I may have said this before: I am a fiend for mint-flavored anything this time of year. I’m happy with a peppermint candy cane, but serve me peppermint ice cream and I’ll clean your house.
I grew up in Chicago eating Frango Mints from Marshall Field’s, which sold them beginning in 1929. When I go home to see my family, somebody has a bowl full and I am gleeful. That combination of mint and chocolate truffle is heavenly. (I know they are now sold at Macy’s, but I only eat them at home.)
I even ask at the Jack In The Box drive-thru when they’re going to get their peppermint shakes. Diet Santa is probably watching as I write this and will put lumpy brown granola in my stocking.
So, that brings me to two recipes that almost make me swoon: Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies and No-Bake Oreo Mint Cheesecake Bars. Taken together, you could overdose on the sugar and mint. Separately, each will brighten up a tray of Christmas cookies. Make sure you’ve got green food coloring and mint extract on hand.
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Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (or more to taste)
About 10 drops green food coloring
3 1/4 cups flour, spooned and leveled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces dark chocolate chips, divided
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line one or more baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat silicone mat.
In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl, then beat on medium for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs and yolk, peppermint extract and food coloring.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Add to the wet ingredients and combine until the flour is not quite incorporated.
Add half of the chocolate chips to the dough.* Chop the other half coarsely, with a knife or in a food processor. Add to the dough, and mix until just combined.
Cover the dough and refrigerate for about an hour, though this is not mandatory. (You can bake them right after you mix it; they will still turn out fine. But, you may prefer the texture and flavor after a little chilling.)
Use a 2-inch cookie scoop to form balls of dough and drop them on the cookie sheet. These are very large cookies.
Bake about 8-10 minutes, or until barely starting to brown on the edges. The centers should mostly be not-shiny when you take them out, but a little shine is OK.
Let cool 5 minutes on the pan, then remove to a cooling rack.
Yield: 28 large cookies
*Note: You can reserve about 1/3 cup of the whole chips and push them into the baked cookies immediately after taking them out of the oven, if you like.
No-Bake Oreo Mint Cheesecake Bars
1 3/4 cups finely crushed Cool Mint Oreos (about 25)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature, but not melted
3 3/4 cups confectioner's sugar
12 Andes creme de menthe mints, broken into pieces
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 block of reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup chocolate chips, melted
A few drops of green food coloring (optional)
Combine the cookie crumbs and half of the softened butter in medium bowl. Mix well.
Press firmly on to bottom of and ungreased 9-by-11-inch baking pan and refrigerate until the crust is firm.
Combine the confectioner's sugar, the remaining butter, skim milk, cream cheese and Andes mints in mixing bowl.
Beat at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy ( it should resemble frosting.) Add the food coloring to get the color you like (optional). Spread over the crust.
Drizzle melted chocolate over crust and refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.
Cut into bars and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.