Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

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Time is fleeting during these December days. The calendar continually grows fuller, as events and errands are penciled in for the evenings and weekends. With shopping to do and friends to meet, the holiday season is passing by too quickly. After realizing earlier this week that there are only two weekends before Christmas, I panicked. How would I be able to fit in everything without being overwhelmed? I stepped back for a minute, took a deep breath, and scheduled in time for myself.

Time is one of the most precious gifts we have to share—with ourselves and others. As an introvert, I enjoy keeping my free time to myself, but I often remind myself the value of sharing time with the people I care about the most. Phone calls and coffee dates often carry more meaning than we anticipate. I'm holding onto those important moments this season.

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One of my personal holiday traditions is baking and decorating holiday cookies. Each year I look forward to putting on a cheesy holiday movie marathon and spending time in the kitchen doing something I love. Though decorating may grow old after several long hours, the joy of being able to share the results is enough to keep me going. Even though I blocked out time for myself next weekend, I started the holiday baking early with these Peppermint Chocolate Cookies.

Buried in a pile of recipe drafts, I found a loved, but forgotten recipe for double chocolate chip cookies. I dressed up the cookies with a chocolate glaze and crushed candy canes. To suit your tastes, feel free to leave the chocolate chips out of the batter for less intense chocolate flavor, or add a hint of peppermint extract to the batter to boost the candy cane flavor. Either way, it's difficult to go wrong with this recipe.

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Peppermint Chocolate Cookies are a seasonal delight. Double chocolate cookies are half-dipped into a rich chocolate glaze. Before the cookies set, they are sprinkled with crushed candy canes and crunchy chocolate sprinkles. For extra peppermint flavor, add 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract to the cookie batter. These cookies are perfect for cookie exchanges, holiday gatherings, or dipped into a tall glass of cold milk.

One Year Ago: Poached Pear Gingerbread Loaf & Cinnamon Star Bread
Two Years Ago: Swedish Tea Ring 
Three Years Ago: Almond Espresso Cookies 
Four Years Ago:  Cranberry Upside Down Cake & Peppermint Marshmallows
Five Years Ago: Persimmon Cake, Lemon Cranberry Scones, Chocolate Pomegranate Tart, & Almond Cardamom Rolls
Six Years Ago: Pumpkin Granola Bars, Banana Cocoa Smoothie, Honey Cookies, & Peppermint Pinwheels
Seven Years Ago: Blueberry Brownies, White Chocolate Truffles, Pear Chips, & Candy-Striped Meringues

Peppermint Chocolate Cookies

Yields 2 dozen cookies

Chocolate Cookies
1/2 cup (113 grams) butter, room temperature
2/3 cup (130 grams) brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup (66 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cup (170 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (40 grams) cocoa powder
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet chocolate chips, optional

Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup ( mL) heavy cream
Candy canes, crushed
Chocolate crunch sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla extract and continue beating until smooth. Gradually add the baking soda, salt, flour, and cocoa powder, mixing until uniform. Stir in the chocolate chips, if desired.

Drop dough by the tablespoon onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until set. Allow the cookies to rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the chocolate glaze, bring the heavy cream to a near boil in a small saucepan. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Set aside. 

To decorate cookies, dip half of the cookies into the chocolate glaze. Sprinkle crushed candy canes and chocolate crunch sprinkles over the chocolate. Allow cookies to rest until set before eating.

1 Comment

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding

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The holiday season is right around the corner. For the past few years I have struggled to find the holiday spirit, but this year I seem to have it in an abundance. The feeling brings a comfort and ease, allowing the stresses of everyday life to fade into the background. Perhaps it is the excitement of having a new home to fill with lights and cheer, but I am grateful to have holiday baking and decorating ranking high on my priority list. 

As with most holiday family gatherings, bringing the dessert falls on my shoulders (and I am only happy to oblige). While classic pies—pumpkin, apple, and chocolate cream—are a Thanksgiving tradition, I also enjoy introducing a new dessert alongside the standard selection. In past years, the flavor combinations of chocolate and ginger and pumpkin and espresso have made appearances. For this Thanksgiving, I am planning for the flavors of pumpkin and caramel to join together with rum and raisin in this bread pudding recipe.

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I first made a batch of pumpkin bread pudding seven years ago while I was living in Montreal for graduate school. A large group of us gathered in the living room of a small, one-bedroom apartment, far-flung from our families and homes, to celebrate Thanksgiving together. The meal may have been cobbled together (and each other's faces new and unfamiliar), but we enjoyed each other's company and left with full stomachs. 

The recipe I used back then was quite fussy. While it was delicious, it had too many steps and special techniques to make it approachable for a busy holiday season. For this version of pumpkin caramel bread pudding, I took the same ideas—pumpkin, caramel, and rum raisins—but simplified the recipe to a few steps without losing any of the classic flavors. 

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This Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding is a decadent, seasonal dish to share. Brioche bread cubes are layered with rum-soaked raisins, and set into a rich, pumpkin based custard. Caramel sauce is drizzled over the top just before serving. The preparation of this bread pudding allows for some flexibility—prepare it the night before and bake the next morning, or bake it the evening before and reheat before serving. Whether for brunch or dessert, the bread pudding will be a crowd pleaser.

One Year Ago: Chocolate Gingersnap Tart
Two Years Ago: Rosemary Olive Bread & Pear Spiced Sangria
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Pie (Dairy-Free) & Glaze Chocolate Cake Doughnuts
Four Years Ago:  Gingerbread Pear Bundt Cake & Pumpkin Streusel Muffins
Five Years Ago: Pumpkin Espresso Bars, Maple Roasted Chickpeas, & Gingerbread Muffins
Six Years Ago: Banana Chocolate Muffins, Cranberry Orange Brioche, Cranberry Sauce, & Cranberry White Chocolate Tarts
Seven Years Ago: S'mores Cupcakes, Chocolate Espresso Pots de Creme, & Sugar-Coated Daydreams

Pumpkin Caramel Bread Pudding

Yields 10 to 12 servings

1/4 cup (60 mL) dark rum
1 cup (120 grams) raisins
2 cups (475 mL) half and half
1 cup (237 mL)  whole milk
15 oz. (1 1/2 cups or grams) pumpkin puree
6 large eggs
1/3 cup (105 grams) maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 loaf of brioche or challah bread (about 1 pound), cut into 1-inch cubes
Caramel sauce, for drizzling

In a small saucepan, place the rum and raisins over medium-low heat. Remove from the heat when warm. Cover and let the raisins soak for 20 minutes. Set aside.

In a blender, blend together the half and half, whole milk, pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, spices, vanilla, and salt until uniform. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, spread half of the cubed bread over the bottom. Sprinkle half of the rum raisins evenly over the top. Repeat with remaining bread and raisins. Pour the pumpkin custard mixture (and remaining rum from the raisins) evenly over the brioche. Allow it to sit until the brioche has completely absorbed the custard, about 30 minutes or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

Bake the bread pudding, uncovered, for 40 to 50 minutes, or until it is puffed and set. If the bread browns quickly, cover the pan with tinfoil to prevent further browning while it finishes baking. Let cool slightly and drizzle with caramel sauce. Serve warm.

To prepare ahead of time, cover and refrigerate the baked bread pudding overnight. Then, cover with aluminum foil and rewarm in a 325 degrees F (160 degrees C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes before serving.

3 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

At the beginning of summer, my boyfriend and I moved into our first home. We spent the early months dwelling in near empty rooms, gaining familiarity with the space before taking paint to the walls and opening our wallets for furnishings. While the task of making a house into a home felt initially overwhelming, the choice to step back and pause for breath has made the project enjoyable.

Our house came with its own personality, including a unique blend of blonde wood trim, bronzed hardware, and ornate light fixtures. While the personality may not match our own preference for modern, we are finding a way to blend our disparate styles together. We have made design mistakes along the way—the two coats of "bunglehouse blue" paint in the office was quickly repainted with the original color in a short 24 hours, so grave was the error in judgement—but these failures have only led to a better understanding of the space where we live.   

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Observing the changing of the seasons through our living room window has become my favorite part of living in our new home. Summer brought bright, hot sunlight and bold green hues. Autumn came in shades of yellow, the intense leaves fading in color and falling until only bare branches remain. While I hope winter is still weeks away, we have caught glimpses of what it may hold, with diffuse light reflecting off the snow and filling the room with a quality of light reminiscent of cloudy mornings in the rocky mountains. 

On one such morning, with soft light filling the home, I set out to create this marbled pumpkin chocolate cake. Back when I was working in a bakery, one of my favorite snacks was to pipe chocolate frosting onto the pumpkin scraps leftover from leveling the cake, sealing my love for this flavor combination. The bundt cake features pumpkin and chocolate cake marbled together, with a thick chocolate glaze as the icing on top. 

While my baked goods are typically sent to work and enjoyed by coworkers, we kept "forgetting" to bring this one with us. This cake carries the seasonal flavors beautifully.  While it is perfect for sharing with friends and family, I would understand if you want to keep this cake close to home, too. 

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This Marble Pumpkin Chocolate Cake blends together fall flavors and chocolate in this bundt. Alternate spoonfuls of pumpkin and chocolate cake batter are place in a cake pan and swirled with a knife to achieve a marbled look. Once baked and cooled, the cake is covered in a rich chocolate glaze. Due to the moisture in the pumpkin, the cake stays fresh for several days. Serve alongside a cup of hot coffee or a mug of warm cocoa.

Two Years Ago: Caramel Apple Crumble Pie
Three Years Ago: Maple Syrup Cake
Four Years Ago:  Pumpkin Spiced Doughnuts & Stove-Top Popcorn
Five Years Ago: Molasses Cookies, Marbled Butternut Squash Bread, Chai Pear Scones, & Bourbon Apple Cider
Six Years Ago: Grandma's Applesauce, Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal, Honey Roasted Chickpeas, & Caramel Apple Tart
Seven Years Ago: Baked Apple Chips, Homemade Apple Cider, Fresh Ginger Pear Cake, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, Fig & Balsamic Jam, Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal, & Raspberry Vanilla Creme Brulee

Marbled Pumpkin Chocolate Cake

Yields 8-10 servings

Pumpkin Batter
1 1/2 cups (370 grams) pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
3/4 cup (177 mL) vegetable oil
1 cup (200 grams) brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Batter
1/3 cup (28 grams) cocoa powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons strong coffee (or milk)
1 1/2 cups pumpkin batter (above)

Chocolate Glaze
6 ounces (170 grams) semisweet or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream (or full-fat coconut milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Heavily grease a 10-cup Bundt pan. Set aside.

For the pumpkin batter, beat together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Stir in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt until smooth and uniform in appearance. Set aside.

For the chocolate batter, whisk together the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and strong coffee in a medium mixing bowl. Add in 1 1/2 cups of pumpkin batter and stir until uniform. Set aside.

In the prepared baking pan, alternate spoonfuls of pumpkin and chocolate batter. Using a knife, swirl the batter by making an "S" shape once around the pan to create a marbled texture.

Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes before un-molding transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the glaze, heat the heavy cream in a small saucepan until steaming. Immediately remove from heat and pour over chopped chocolate, allowing the chocolate to melt for 5 minutes before stirring until smooth and uniform. Allow glaze to cool until it reaches a thicker consistency.

When cake has completely cool, pour glaze evenly over the top. Serve after the glaze has fully set. 

6 Comments

Kristin Rosenau

Photographer, writer, and baker of all things sweet.

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