Category Archives: Candy

Easter Egg Hunt Cupcakes

Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesHow cute are these Easter Egg Hunt Cupcakes?! They’re a miniature version of the towering surprise-inside Easter Egg Hunt Cake I made a few years back, and truth be told, I think I love them even more than the original. Layer cakes are great and all, but it’s pretty hard to resist cupcakes topped with Easter candy and filled with sprinkles!Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesEaster Egg Hunt Cupcakes start with the same vanilla sour cream cupcake base I used for my Red Velvet Marble Cupcakes last month. Here it’s baked up plain, but that’s the only thing that’s plain about these little cakes. It goes without saying that this recipe is pretty extra.Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesBefore frosting, each cupcake is filled with sprinkles for a surprise effect. To achieve this, a cone-shaped piece of cake is cut out of the top of each cupcake, leaving behind just enough room for a teaspoon of sprinkles. Then the little conical toppers are trimmed into disks so that they fit right back on top of the cupcakes, concealing the surprise inside. Once the cupcakes are frosted, the cut-outs won’t be visible, making it all the more fun when your family and friends bite in and sprinkles come running out!Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesEaster Egg Hunt CupcakesLike the layer cake that inspired them, these cupcakes are frosted with green-tinted vanilla buttercream and decorated with little Easter scenes made of green coconut “grass,” egg-shaped candies and Peeps bunnies.

Pro-tip: slice off the rounded bottom edges of your Peeps bunnies and slick the exposed marshmallow with frosting so that they sit nicely on your cupcakes. You don’t want to spend all of Easter propping up marshmallow bunnies, you know?!Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesI can’t get over how festive these are! I say this about at least one recipe a year, but these might be the cutest things I’ve ever made. And maybe soon they’ll be the cutest things you’ve ever made.Easter Egg Hunt Cupcakes

Easter Egg Hunt Cupcakes
makes 12-14 cupcakes

Cupcakes:
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Frosting:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
a few drops of green food coloring
3 tablespoons heavy cream

For assembly:
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
a few drops of green food coloring
Peeps bunnies (optional)
rainbow sprinkles (jimmies) or seasonal sprinkles
Easter egg candies (I used M&Ms)

Make the cupcakes. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

Combine milk and sour cream a liquid measuring cup, then use a fork to whisk them together. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Mix in half the dry ingredients, followed by half the milk/sour cream. Add the remaining dry ingredients followed by the remaining milk/sour cream.

Fill liners 2/3-3/4 full. Tap full pan on the counter five times before baking for 18-19 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, combining completely after each addition. Beat in vanilla, food coloring & heavy cream until combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together coconut and food coloring until combined. If using Peeps bunnies, trim off 1/2-inch of their curved bases so that they are flat.

Fill cupcakes. Working with one cupcake at a time, use a small paring knife to carve out a 1-inch deep hole in the top. The removed piece should be conical; slice off the narrow/pointed end so that you have a little disk of cake. Fill the hole in the cupcake with ~1 teaspoon of sprinkles, then place the disk of cake on top to cover them. Repeat process until all cupcakes have been filled.

Frost and decorate cupcakes. Use an offset icing spatula to frost filled cupcakes, leaving the tops relatively flat. Sprinkle on green coconut (or gently dip cupcakes into a bowl of coconut), then decorate with egg candies and Peeps bunnies. I find it easiest to get the Peeps bunnies to stick by dipping their trimmed flat bottom edges in frosting before adhering to the frosted cupcakes.

Serve. Cupcakes will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to five. Peeps bunnies will get stale over time.

Easter Egg Hunt CupcakesEaster Egg Hunt Cupcakes

White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit FoursI’ve made petit fours for a couple of Easters over the last few years, and I think I might finally be getting the hang of them. These tiny, poured fondant-glazed cakes are a childhood favorite of mine, but past attempts to make them have driven me to dark places. When I tested the carrot cake version I had to take a day off of work to recover! It’s taken me two years to give petit fours another go, and while I expected some agony, these White Almond beauties were surprisingly fun and simple to make.

Don’t get me wrong—these are still a labor of love, but they weren’t backbreaking, day-ruining work this time, and I think I know why. I took my time, y’all. I didn’t rush a thing. Every step in this process was done when I had the time and energy. While you can certainly make these over the course of a single day, the batch pictured was assembled over four days with lots of down time. It was leisurely and practically luxurious as far as petit fours go.White Almond Petit FoursLet me lay it out for you. On Monday, I made the cake—a sprinkle-free, rectangular version of this white bundt recipe—and then refrigerated it. Tuesday is my long day every week, so nothing happened petit four-wise.

On Wednesday, I trimmed the cake, painted on an almond simple syrup, and adhered a thin sheet of marzipan to the top. Then I popped the whole thing back into the fridge.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursThe next day (Thursday), I trimmed the edges and cut the cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Since marzipan is moldable, I scored my squares before slicing—it made the whole process super simple.

Next up, I made the poured fondant coating, which is really just melting a whole bunch of things together. Usually coating is my least favorite part of this process, but these weren’t much trouble. I think using cold, dense-crumbed bundt cake was the secret to my success here—it held together so well that I was able to coat these squares by dipping instead of fiddling with squeeze bottles.White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit FoursMy process went something like this. I stuck a fork in the bottom of a petit four and dipped it in the warm fondant, quickly moving the bowl around to cover the sides. Then I used another fork to help ease the petit four onto a rack to set before moving onto the next.* I had a few casualties, but the solution was to slightly reheat the fondant and keep going. Make no mistake, this was still a tedious process, but it’s nothing compared to the squeeze bottle nightmares of petit fours past! Are there a few crumbs on these little cakes? Sure! But perfection is the enemy of joy here. Also, toasted almond flowers are quite handy for hiding flaws. Aren’t they pretty? I’m obsessed.

*Here’s a video from another baker whose process is similar to my own.White Almond Petit FoursAs far as flavor goes, White Almond Petit Fours are sweet almond through and through! If you love marzipan, these are for you. The cake is dense and moist, the marzipan somehow both melts and remains distinct, and the fondant is almost too much…but it’s also not enough. I always need a second petit four.White Almond Petit FoursThe petit fours of my childhood were super-sweet so I love the intensity here, but if you need some sharpness to cut through all the almond, you could soak the cake in a lemon syrup, or torte and fill it with a layer of raspberry jam or lemon curd. For me though, it’s all about that moist sweet almond cake, especially when enjoyed cold from the fridge at midnight on Easter Day. Or any day, really. I’m not picky.White Almond Petit Fours

White Almond Petit Fours
makes about 35 1 1/2-inch petit fours

Cake:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 16 pieces
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
3/4 cup full-fat sour cream, room temperature
1/4 cup whole milk, room temperature

Syrup:
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Marzipan:
12 ounces prepared marzipan (not almond paste)

Poured Fondant:
2/3 cup hot tap water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
12 ounces white chocolate chips
2 pounds (7 1/2 cups) confectioners sugar

Garnish:
sliced almonds
~3 tablespoons poured fondant

This recipe is long and requires many steps and chills. Please read through carefully before beginning.

Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch pan and line with parchment. Grease again. Set aside.

Make the cake. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, butter, egg whites, vanilla, almond extract, sour cream and milk in a large mixing bowl. Use an electric mixer to mix on low for 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. Batter will be thick.

Transfer batter to prepared pan and smooth the top with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan for 30 minutes. Use a thin, flexible knife to release cake, and then remove to a rack. Allow to cool completely. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days.

Remove cake from the refrigerator, unwrap and place on a cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim the top so that it’s even and the crumb is exposed. Discard (eat!) the scraps.

Make the syrup. Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until sugar dissolves, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Paint syrup all over the top of the cake. It will seem like too much, but it’s not.

Roll out the marzipan. Dust a surface and rolling pin with flour or confectioner’s sugar. Use your hands to form marzipan into a rectangle shape and place it on the surface. Use the rolling pin to roll marzipan into an 8×12-inch rectangle, lifting and turning it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to your surface.

Lay marzipan over the top of the cake so that the crumb is no longer exposed. Use rolling pin to roll over it lightly a few times to adhere. Wrap assembled cake tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for another 2 hours or up to a day.

Remove cake from the refrigerator to a large cutting board. Use a serrated knife to trim off crispy cake edges (about 1/4-inch on all sides). Slice cake into 1 1/2-inch squares. Freeze for 30 minutes while you prepare the poured fondant.

On a surface, place a cooling rack over a sheet of parchment.

Make poured fondant. In a liquid measuring cup, stir together hot water, light corn syrup, and vanilla.

Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water. Set a heatproof bowl over the top, ensuring that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Remove bowl and bring water to a simmer.

Place white chocolate chips in the heatproof bowl. When water simmers, place bowl back over the water. Whisk until melted. Alternate adding confectioners sugar and liquid ingredients, whisking constantly until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool a few minutes (it works best around 100F).

Working quickly, stab a fork into the bottom of on petit four. Gently lower it into the fondant and manipulate the bowl so that the sides get some coverage. Use another fork or an offset icing spatula to remove the petit four off the fork and onto the prepared cooling rack. Re-warm fondant as needed by placing it back over the double boiler for a few minutes. Here is a video for clarity.

This process may also be done by filling a squeeze bottle with fondant and using it to cover the the top and sides of each square. Use an offset icing knife to adjust sides as necessary. This may be done with a spoon as well, although a squeeze bottle is simpler.

Let poured fondant set for about an hour. Reserve any excess fondant for decorating.

To decorate, toast almonds in a 350F oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Let cool completely. When petit fours have set, warm excess fondant slightly and load into a piping bag. Snip off a small corner and dot about a dime-size blob on top off one petit four, then immediately arrange five almond slices as a flower. Continue with remaining petit fours. Let set for another 20 minutes before serving.

Petit course may be served at room temperature or cold. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days.

White Almond Petit FoursWhite Almond Petit Fours

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesThese Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies were the maiden voyage of my brand new sheet pans! If the results are any indicator, I think we’re off to an auspicious start.Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesReese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesWe’re talking thick, soft cookies with tons of peanut butter flavor and an extra peanut buttery crunch from the Reese’s Pieces strewn throughout! You could obviously swap in chocolate chips or M&Ms or any other add-in you like, but I am all about that double peanut butter life.This cookie dough is super fun and easy to make. It comes together in just a few minutes and doesn’t require a mixer or a chill—score! Just mix, scoop, roll and bake. If you were to turn on your oven right now, you could have puffy peanut butter cookies in half an hour. Half an hour!Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesPretty sure that’s the height of luxury on the fiftieth weekend of quarantine. Or at least it is around here.Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies
makes 23-24 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (not natural-style)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup Reese’s Pieces candy

Set oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a small-medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until melted. This may also be done in a small pot on the stove over medium-low heat.

Transfer butter/peanut butter to a medium mixing bowl and whisk in brown sugar, followed by egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, stirring until combined. Fold in Reese’s Pieces (or other add-ins).

Scoop dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments, roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Flatten cookies lightly with your palm. Bake 9-11 minutes, until puffed and no longer raw looking. Let cool on the pans for 7-10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Let baking sheets return to room temperature before rolling and baking any remaining dough.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesReese’s Pieces Peanut Butter CookiesReese’s Pieces Peanut Butter Cookies

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideI know what you’re thinking. “Hasn’t Caramel Sauce already been on here?” Well yes, a few times, but it’s never had its own post and don’t you think it deserves that tiny amount of recognition? I do. Also, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideSo, why am I posting Caramel Sauce now, at the holidays, instead of mid-summer like every other ice cream topping and dessert sauce in my archives? Because it is perfect for food gifting. Perfect! It’s easy, you can make it days or weeks ahead (watch the dates on your dairy), and who wouldn’t be absolutely thrilled to receive a little jar of homemade Caramel Sauce from someone they love? A monster, obviously.

(Why am I phrasing everything as a question today?)Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideTruth is, I’ve been meaning to write a little homemade food gift guide for years, but am just now getting around to it. I am a big proponent of homemade gifts, having done everything from making clay ornaments to puffy painting to sewing stuffed animals. I can tell you from experience that food is definitely the quickest, easiest and cheapest in terms of DIY gifting, and as sugar, butter and flour have been my artistic media of choice for the last 7.5 years, I have learned a lot about what makes for quality food gifts.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Want to give something saucy? People love an ice cream topping, even in the dead of winter. I’m obviously out here shilling for Caramel today, but you can do Peanut Butter Caramel, Butterscotch or even homemade Hot Fudge without much hassle. You could also go super easy and just microwave a bunch of Chocolate Shell! Just make a batch of any of the aforementioned sauces and divide it among heatproof jars. The jars pictured today are 4-ounce mason jars that I keep on hand, but 8-ounce jars would be great too.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Looking to give cookies? You’re in luck! There are so many holiday cookie recipes that are beyond perfect for gifting. Not only do they look beautiful all boxed (tinned?) up, but they keep incredibly well, especially crisper offerings. Think Iced Sugar Cookies, Candy Cane Cookies, Stained Glass Cookies, Maple Spice Stars, Brown Butter Shortbread, Orange Cardamom Pistachio Shortbread, Gingersnaps, this week’s Peppermint Bark Cookies, Pinwheels, vegan/gluten-free Oat-Pecan Linzers, Pretzel Shortbread, Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints…the list goes on and on.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideDon’t forget that brownies and blondies are technically cookies, too! Pro tip: you can easily double most of my 9″ square recipes and bake them up in a 9×13″ pan without changing much of anything.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Candy on your mind? I am not the world’s most proficient candy maker, but I have a few tricks up my sleeve. I love a good homemade truffle, especially these vegan Five Ingredient Salted Marzipan beauties. You could also make easy Peppermint Mocha Fudge or Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams. Yum!Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideIf I were to gift candy this year, I’d go for popcorn. People LOVE popcorn. <–that’s me, I’m people. The Super Sprinkle Popcorn I made over the summer could easily be transformed with some holiday sprinkles. And then there’s Salty Maple Caramel Corn. Ohhh my. It’s salty-sweet easy, gluten-free, and makes enough for several tins. You could even get a little wild and make Sriracha Cracker Jack. Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
In the mood to make cakes? Well, you’re the kind of friend I’d like to have. Cake definitely takes a little forethought, but if you were to wrap a Boterkoek {Dutch Butter Cake}, Meyer Lemon Drizzle Cake or Eggnog Bundt in cellophane, or deliver a grain-free Winning Hearts & Minds Cake in a (clean) small pizza box, you might just…win hearts and minds. And make someone feel incredibly special.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide
Don’t want to bother turning on your oven? I’ve got you there, too. Make a homemade mix! You can easily jar individual brownie and hot chocolate mixes! Just make yourself an assembly line and write (or print out) little tags with instructions for how to make your brownies or hot chocolate. This will give your friends a little low-maintenance something to do and enjoy during this weird AF holiday season.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideThis is just the tip of the food gifting iceberg–I could go on forever. I hope this guide inspires you to treat your friends to something sweet this month. It’s going to be strange and solitary holiday for many of us, and I know a little homemade something would do us all some good.Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Caramel Sauce
makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt

Place sugar in a 2-3 quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk sugar until the sugar melts and turns a deep copper color. Whisk in butter until completely incorporated. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in heavy cream. Caramel will bubble violently, but will quickly relax into a smooth sauce. Whisk in vanilla and salt. Transfer sauce to a jar and let cool to room temperature.

Leftover caramel sauce should be kept in the refrigerator. Microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring in between, to reheat.

Caramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift GuideCaramel Sauce & a Food Gift Guide

Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint Bark CookiesHow have I never put peppermint bark on here? It’s chocolate, it’s peppermint, it’s festive, it’s iconic, and yet it’s never graced this blog. That is, unless you count assembling it on top of a giant sheet of chocolate cookie and then breaking it into a zillion jagged pieces, which I very much do.Peppermint Bark CookiesOoooh y’all, these have been a long time coming. Over the years, I have tested putting peppermint bark on a cookie cake, shortbread bars, potato chips and brownies, none of which have made to on the blog, but these Peppermint Bark Cookies? These are where it’s at. If you make one new cookie recipe this holiday season, let this be it. It’s the best of two worlds (peppermint bark and cookies, duh), surprisingly simple, and so, so good.Peppermint Bark CookiesThe dough comes together in a flash. It’s just my chocolate cut-out cookie recipe, but instead of stamping out cookies with graduated cutters, it’s divided in two and rolled into big rectangles. Each one gets a 15 minute freeze, a 17 minute bake and then has to cool completely before the peppermint barking. <—Sounds weird, keeping it anyway.

The way the recipe is written, these big cookies retain a good amount of softness, but aren’t gooey or underdone at all. Once baked and cooled, you can wrap them in plastic and wait a day or two before assembly, or you can get right to it.Peppermint Bark CookiesPeppermint Bark CookiesThis part—the peppermint bark part—is easy, but I still have a few tips for you.

Use good quality pure white chocolate, like Ghirardelli or even Baker’s. Please don’t use white chocolate chips. Just don’t. Melting white chocolate is always a little finicky, but white chocolate chips? Forget it—too many stabilizers. I’ve outlined a microwave method for melting white chocolate in the recipe; it’s easy, but involves a few stops and starts and adding more chopped white chocolate at a certain interval. You may be wondering if any of that matters and if you can’t just chuck it all together and call it a day. And yeah, you can, but your white chocolate will never be as smooth and spreadable as what you see here. Heat and time, y’all. They’re important.

After your white chocolate is melted, add 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract. This will make your white chocolate seize slightly for a few seconds, but just keep whisking and it will smooth out. Could you skip the extract? Sure. But that extra hint of peppermint is wonderful.Peppermint Bark CookiesAnd speaking of peppermint, I like to use starlight peppermints in my Christmas baking. Some bakers prefer candy canes, but peppermints are cheaper ($1!) and look the exact same as candy canes when all bashed up. Oh, and unpopular opinion? They taste better than your average candy cane. Fight me.Peppermint Bark CookiesPeppermint Bark CookiesTo make the peppermint bark, spread the melted white chocolate all over the big chocolate cookies and scatter on the bashed peppermints. Then give your cookies a 20 minute freeze to set the bark. You can also let it set at room temperature, but it will take a couple of hours and that seems like a lot when cookies can be had so much sooner.Peppermint Bark CookiesThe last step in this process is the most fun: breaking the big cookies into shards! Just like with traditional peppermint bark, make the pieces as big or small as you like. Try to let go of the outcome—the charm here is that each piece is different. If you need uniformity with your Peppermint Bark Cookies, you can obviously slice the big rectangles into squares.Peppermint Bark CookiesAfter that, it’s time to treat yourself! These cookies have it all: a soft chocolate base, a layer of smooth, snappy, peppermint-spiked white chocolate, a smattering of candy, and a whole lot of holiday cheer. They’re so delicious that you could easily hoard the whole batch to yourself, but I think they’d be amazing packed up in tins and gifted. And speaking of food gifting, that’s what we’re talking about on Friday. See you then!Peppermint Bark Cookies

Peppermint Bark Cookies
makes lots

Chocolate Cookie Base:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For peppermint bark:
40 starlight peppermints
16 ounces pure white chocolate (not white chocolate chips)
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract (not mint extract)

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
2 12×16-inch sheets parchment
2 quarter sheet pans or jelly roll pans
small hammer/meat tenderizer/heavy object

Place oven racks in central positions. Preheat oven to 350F.

Make chocolate cookie base. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Use your hands to knead dough into a mass, then divide it in two.

Lightly flour your rolling pin. Place one half of the dough on a sheet of parchment. Gently pat it into a rectangle shape before rolling it out to an 8×12-inch rectangle. You may need to slice off edges and patchwork your corners together—this is fine. Transfer dough (on parchment) to one rimmed sheet pan. Freeze 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining half of dough.

Bake frozen dough rectangles 17-18 minutes, until puffed and no longer raw looking. Watch the edges to make sure they don’t burn. Let cool completely on their pans on racks.

Prepare the peppermint bark. Place starlight mints in a ziptop bag and seal. Place bag on a cutting board, or other surface that can take some light bashing. Use a small hammer or other heavy object to smash peppermints into small pieces (follow your preference). Set aside.

Chop 12 ounces of the white chocolate and place in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between, until melted (this takes 60 seconds in my microwave). Chop remaining 4 ounces of white chocolate and add to melted white chocolate. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring between, until melted (this takes about 30 seconds in my microwave).

Add peppermint extract to white chocolate and stir until smooth. White chocolate may appear to seize at first, but just keep stirring and it will smooth out.

Divide white chocolate mixture onto the two rectangles and use the back of a spoon or offset knife to spread it to the edges, leaving a narrow border if desired. Sprinkle crushed peppermints over the top. Freeze cookies for 20 minutes to set white chocolate.

Remove cookies from freezer and let thaw a few minutes before breaking into pieces. Serve.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for a few days. Peppermints may degrade over time.Peppermint Bark CookiesPeppermint Bark Cookies