Chocolate Mint Magic Bars

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsSo far this season, I’ve posted Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies, Peppermint Mocha Buttercreams, Pecan Florentines, an Eggnog Puff Pancake, Maple Spice Stars, gluten-free Mexican Hot Chocolate Crinkles, and my mom’s recipe for Wassail. If none of those strike your holiday fancy, there are at least twenty more Christmas-appropriate recipes in the archives.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsWhat can I say? I love holiday baking ❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚❤️💚

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsToday’s recipe–the last one before Christmas–is everything you could want this close to the 25th. Chocolate Mint Magic Bars come together quickly and easily, don’t require a mixer or any unfamiliar techniques, and are so. freaking. good. If you love chocolate and mint, this is your lucky day 😊

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsI mean, who can resist chewy, chocolaty Andes mint-studded filling and a buttery chocolate cookie crust?!

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsChocolate Mint Magic BarsTo make the bars, start by blitzing two sleeves of chocolate sandwich cookies into crumbs. Add some butter and then press the mixture into a foil-lined pan. Bake the crust for five minutes, just to set.

Chop up some Andes Creme de Menthe candies…

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars…and whisk together a can of sweetened condensed milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, peppermint extract, and a tablespoon of melted butter.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsChocolate Mint Magic BarsPour that mixture over the crust and top it with the chopped candy. I like to add some chocolate chips, too. Bake the bars for half an hour, until they’re still a little jiggly–they’ll set as they cool. Once they reach room temperature, slice ‘em up.

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsLook at those streaks of candy in the filling 😍😍😍

Chocolate Mint Magic BarsThese bars, y’all. They’re so delicious. The filling is chocolaty and minty without being too rich, and has a fudgy brownie-like quality that I absolutely love! And then there’s that crumbly, buttery chocolate cookie layer. Seriously, what’s not to love?!

Merry Christmas, y’all!Chocolate Mint Magic Bars

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars
makes 1 9-inch square pan, about 16 bars

24 chocolate sandwich cookies (like Oreos)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (not fat free)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract (not mint extract)
1/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
30 Andes Creme de Menthe candies (1 9.5 ounce package), chopped
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, leaving overhang on two sides. Generously butter foil. Set aside.

Place chocolate sandwich cookies the bowl of a food processor and process until pulverized. Add 5 tablespoons of melted butter. Pulse until combined. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Press into an even layer. Bake for five minutes, until set. Set crust aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, vanilla and peppermint extracts. Whisk in cocoa powder.

Drizzle sweetened condensed milk mixture over the crust. Scatter chopped Andes Creme de Menthe candies and chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 30-32 minutes, tenting pan with foil at the 10 minute mark. Bars are done when the center jiggles just slightly when the pan is jostled.

Let bars cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use foil overhang to remove bars from the pan to a cutting board. Peel off foil. Slice with a lightly-greased knife and serve.

Chocolate Mint Magic Bars

Wassail

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My family didn’t do any holiday baking when I was growing up and we’ve never been much for big holiday traditions, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without my mom’s Wassail.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Yes, Wassail. Like hot mulled cider.

Like “Here We Come A-wassailing.”

Does that song make anyone else automatically think of A Claymation Christmas Celebration, where they go a-waffling? No? Just me?

Whatever happened to the California Raisins?!

Anyway…

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}Wassail, y’all. It’s delicious and you should all make some this holiday season. My mom makes a big pot of the stuff in the days leading up to Christmas and then reheats it as necessary. And, oh, is it necessary.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}You’re going to drop by to deliver a gift or have a chat? Great! Would you like some Wassail?

You want to play a raucous multi-hour game of Dominoes? I’ll get the Wassail.

You’re going to go for a walk to see your neighbors’ insane Christmas light displays? I’ll make you a to-go cup.

Texas missed the memo that it’s Christmas and it’s blazing hot outside? Let me pour this Wassail over ice and top it with a little splash of seltzer.

We’re going a-wassailing? I don’t exactly know what that is, but I’ll bring the Wassail.

Bottom line: Wassail is appropriate for any and all holiday occasions.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}My mom’s recipe comes together in just half an hour and couldn’t be easier. You literally simmer a half-gallon of apple cider with a couple cinnamon sticks and then jazz it up with some pineapple juice, the juice and zest of a lemon, some honey and nutmeg. Serve it up with a slice of lemon or another cinnamon stick and prepare for a mug of sweet, tangy holiday bliss 😍Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}I love that this Wassail is non-alcoholic. It’s appropriate and appealing for kids and grown ups alike, and it’s a rare non-seltzer/coffee/soda option for those of us who don’t drink 🙋

This seasonal beverage has been a part of my Christmas memories for as long as I can remember, and I can’t imagine a holiday season without it. Make a batch in the next few days and it might become your tradition, too.Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Wassail
from my mom’s recipe box
makes about 3 quarts

1 medium lemon
1 half-gallon (8 cups) apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
24 ounces (3 cups) unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For Garnish:
1 medium lemon, thinly sliced, optional
cinnamon sticks, optional

Use a vegetable peeler to remove lemon zest in thick strips. Slice lemon in half and squeeze into a small bowl. Set aside zest and 3 tablespoons of the juice.

Combine apple cider and cinnamon sticks in a stock pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five minutes. Stir in lemon zest strips and juice, pineapple juice, honey, and nutmeg. Bring back to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer for five more minutes.

Strain out lemon zest and cinnamon sticks, if desired (I don’t mind them). Serve Wassail in mugs. Garnish with lemon slices or cinnamon sticks, if desired.

Wassail will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days and may be reheated on the stove or in the microwave.

Wassail {Non-Alcoholic}

Maple Spice Stars

Maple Spice StarsY’all…are these Maple Spice Stars beautiful or what?! I love all the colors, textures, and dimensions of the finished cookies, not to mention the flavors. With their sweet, spicy crunch and maple glaze, these little stars are as delicious as they are dazzling.

Maple Spice StarsThis dough is a maple spin on my classic gingerbread recipe. The biggest changes I made are that I intensified the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, cut the white granulated sugar and, of course, that I swapped the traditional molasses for 2/3 cup of pure maple syrup 🍁🍁🍁 These changes produce a cookie with a “cleaner” spice flavor; unlike molasses, the maple syrup accentuates the spices instead of competing with them.

Maple Spice StarsOnce the maple spice dough is made, divide it into quarters and give it a chill. This helps with spreading, allows the flavors to meld, and keeps the dough from being too sticky to roll. That last part is super important. We want this dough to roll and cut like a dream!

Maple Spice StarsRoll the dough out until it’s 1/4-inch thick and cut the stars. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this could be a startling number of cookies–I ended up with eleven dozen 3-inch stars (that’s 132 cookies 😮). It’s a lot, but that means this recipe is perfect for cookie trays and food gifting. I highly recommend pairing a couple dozen of these sparkly stars with a box of tea; I like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange and Yogi Egyptian Licorice.

But back to the cookie dough…

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsBake the stars for 8 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden at the edges. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsNext up, whisk together a simple maple glaze and give each cookie a quick dip. Lay them on cooling racks set over wax paper to contain any excess–you just want a thin layer.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsAs a final touch, top the glaze with a mixture of minced candies ginger and coarse sugar. This gives the finished cookies an extra hit of ginger flavor, not to mention how beautiful it makes them look. I love how these stars sparkle ✨✨✨

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice Stars are some of my favorite holiday cookies ever to appear on this blog, and I have made a lot (*A LOT*) of holiday cookies over the last couple of years. They’re simple, elegant, and they give a nod to a classic without being totally traditional.

Maple Spice StarsOh, and they’re stupidly delicious. And when it comes to cookies, that’s what really counts, isn’t it?!

Maple Spice StarsLooking for more cut-out cookies? Try my Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}, Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, and Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies.

Maple Spice Stars
makes about 11 dozen 3-inch cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber/robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
2/3 cup minced crystallized candied ginger
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (I like turbinado)

Glaze:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4-5 tablespoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown sugar, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface. Dough may crack on the initial roll, but should become more pliable. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 3-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, until they are no longer wet-looking. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining dough, making sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together minced crystallized candied ginger and coarse sugar. Set aside.

Make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the teaspoon, until the glaze is a drizzling consistency.

On a surface (or a few baking sheets), set cooling racks over sheets of wax paper. Dip each cookie in the glaze until it’s 1/3-1/2 dipped. Let any excess drip off and set cookie on a rack. Top with candied ginger garnish. Repeat with all remaining cookies. Allow to set at room temperature for at least two hours or until dry to the touch.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Maple Spice Stars

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}I don’t think I’ll ever grow bored of puff pancakes. When I rediscovered my childhood favorite breakfast a few years ago, I was shocked to learn how easy they are to make, and so I have made many. (Many many many.)

I already have the classic recipe and a Caramel Apple version in the archives. Two variations over two years may not sound like much, but just know that this could easily be an all-puff-pancake-all-the-time blog 😉

Today, I’m giving you a version of my favorite weekend breakfast worthy of any Christmas morning spread. Feast your eyes on this rumpled beauty: the Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Like all puff pancakes, this holiday version is ridiculously easy and far more than the sum of its parts. It comes together quickly and bakes in the oven (no pancake flipping!), culminating in a soft-centered, shareable pancake flavored with everyone’s favorite seasonal beverage.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Making an Eggnog Puff Pancake is as easy as putting eggnog, a few eggs, a touch of sugar, a bit of spice, and some flour in a food processor and blitzing it into a thin batter. The hardest part is waiting five minutes for some air bubbles to dissipate.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Pour the batter into a searing hot pan and bake it for fifteen minutes, until puffed and golden. Within 90 seconds of its removal from the oven, your Eggnog Puff Pancake will collapse on itself, leaving behind a rustic, fragrant holiday breakfast masterpiece.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Let your pancake cool for a minute or two before slicing it up.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}As far as toppings go, I recommend maple syrup…

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}…and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar that you’ve spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg…

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}…and a dollop of whipped cream.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}It may seem like overkill, but the combination of toppings and the custard-like, nutmeg-scented center of the pancake will have everyone at the table asking you to make this again before the New Year. And you will because it’s just that easy, and just that delicious.Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Looking for more eggnog treats? Try these sandwich cookies and this cake!

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}
makes 4-6 servings

1 cup eggnog
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar 
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg 
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For serving:
maple syrup
confectioners sugar (with pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg)
whipped cream

Place a large ovenproof cast iron or stainless steel pan in a cold oven. Preheat oven to 400F.

In the bowl of a food processor* or high-powered blender, combine eggnog, eggs, vanilla, flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Process 15-30 seconds, or until no lumps remain. Let batter rest five minutes.

Once oven has reached 400F, remove the hot pan and add butter. Place pan back in the oven for 60-90 seconds, until butter has melted. Remove pan from the oven, and swirl the butter so it coats the pan. Pour in batter. Bake 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Do NOT open the oven door during baking.

Let pancake cool 2-5 minutes before slicing. Serve immediately with maple syrup, confectioners sugar, and whipped cream, if desired.

Note:

If you don’t have a food processor or blender, you may mix the batter and then push it through a fine mesh sieve to remove lumps and bubbles.

Eggnog Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Pecan Florentines

Pecan FlorentinesIf you’ve never seen or heard of Florentine cookies, you’re probably not alone. I rarely see these ultra-crispy, nutty, chocolaty cookies in bakeries, but on the occasion that I do, I just have to have one.

Pecan FlorentinesMy love of Florentines began when I tried an almond version at Blue Bonnet Bakery in my hometown (they must have been out of Gingerbread Men that day 😉). I was intrigued by the non-traditional appearance of the cookie (let’s be real–I was mostly in it for the chocolate). After one bite, I knew I’d found a favorite.

Pecan FlorentinesFlash forward fifteen years and I’ve finally tried my hand at making them. And you know what? I wish I had made them sooner. I’m always so intimidated by lace cookies, but they’re actually some of the simplest to make. Exhibit A: Apple Cider Snaps.

Pecan FlorentinesHere’s what you need to know about Florentines: if you start now, you can have dough ready for the oven in ten minutes. That dough will bake in all of five minutes. And the finished cookies get filled and topped with dark chocolate. So…what are you waiting for?!

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesMeasure out a cup of pecans and then pulse them in the food processor until they become a rubble. You could use almonds or walnuts if you prefer, but given a choice, I will always go for pecans. It’s a Texan thing, I suppose. I would like more things to taste like pecan pie, Florentines included. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Anyway…mix the pecan rubble with 1/2 cup of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesNext up, bring some butter, dark brown sugar, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup to a boil. Golden syrup is an invert sugar with a slight caramel flavor; I usually find it on the baking or international aisles (it’ll be with the British foods). If you can’t find golden syrup at your grocery store, light corn syrup works just fine.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesBack to the recipe…combine the wet and dry ingredients and voilà! Cookie dough. It will be thin and a little, uh, gloppy, but it will be cookie dough.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesDrop teaspoons of dough onto lined baking sheets and flatten them into circles. Bake them for 5 1/2-6 minutes, until lacy and turning golden at the edges. Keep an eye on ‘em and make sure to rotate the pans halfway through–since these cookies are mostly sugar, butter, and nuts, they can go from perfection to charcoal in seconds. I made six batches last week and you can see that I still had a few close calls. Rotate, rotate, rotate. It’s crucial to your Pecan Florentine success.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesOnce all the cookies are baked and cooled, sandwich them together with dark chocolate. The melted chocolate may seep through some of the holes in the cookies. To mitigate this, I like to spread the chocolate onto one cookie, top it with a second cookie, and flip it over. That seems to contain any overflow.

Pecan FlorentinesAs a finishing touch, I like to drizzle a little more chocolate onto each Pecan Florentine. It’s entirely optional, but I think it’s pretty. After that, just let the chocolate set at room temperature (or if you’re impatient, throw them into the freezer for a few minutes).

(I’m impatient.)Pecan Florentines

Pecan Florentines
makes about 20 sandwich cookies

1 cup raw pecan halves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Place racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Place pecan halves in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they become a rubble. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter, golden syrup (or corn syrup), and dark brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the pecan mixture. Fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop teaspoons of dough at least 3 inches apart on the prepared pans. Flatten the dough into circles. Bake 3 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes (I do 2 1/2 minutes), until golden at the edges. Let cool on the pan five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Discard and replace parchment between batches.

Once all the cookies have been baked, chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Let cool five minutes.

Line a surface (or two baking sheets) with parchment. Place half the cookies underside-up on the parchment. Top each with about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate. Spread it into a thin layer and top with another cookie. Carefully turn sandwich cookies over. Use a fork to drizzle remaining chocolate over the tops. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pecan Florentines