The Lowdown:These dense, fudgy chocolate peppermint cookies are coated in sugar and topped with peppermint pretzel bark to make for a sweet and salty treat. Perfectly pepperminty, chocolaty, and irresistible, these cookies are great for gifting, party taking, or personal enjoyment!
So I went into Williams-Sonoma the other day…
And might I say that it is not a good idea to go into Williams-Sonoma at Christmastime and with an empty pocketbook when one wants buy the whole store? That place knows their business and how to execute warm, festive feelings. They also know how to do things right in the sugar and peppermint department.
Anyway, so while there I SAW A PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL PLAYER!! (8^0
OK, so that’s not what I wanted to tell you – even though it’s true and I can finally cross that off my list of “would like’s”. (I’ve always wanted to see an MLBer in public… #dontask #crazyfan)
No, I actually wanted to tell you that I saw these Peppermint Bark Pretzels and knew at once they had to come home with me; I knew that they needed to be a topper to something chocolaty and delicious. Cookies perhaps?
I was a little undecided but they just seemed to keep calling, waiting to be set on top of some warm chocolate cookies to melt and make someone happy. So I caved and they came home.
And that’s how these cookies came to be. The end.
Oh, I suppose I should actually tell you a little about them, huh? Well, these cookies have been a staple in my family for yearss. They’re little chocolate delights; dense, fudgy, rolled in sugar and best eaten warm when the topping (in this case the peppermint bark pretzels) is all melty and heavenly. Sosososo good and perfect for this time of year. And you can top them however you like; a simple glaze, peppermint or chocolate kisses, chocolate ganache, truffle halves – it’s up to you!
Also, to compliment the bark on top, I added a hint of peppermint extract to the cookie dough. This adds a nice little something extra without being too much.
These chocolate peppermint cookies make for good gifts and are a total party cookie. The recipe yields 20ish (about two inches in diameter) cookies, so if you plan on gifting or making for a party you might want to 3 or 4x the recipe – they can be addicting, I warn you…
Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake:Why choose between three desserts when you can have all three? This Chocolate Peppermint Cheesecake Brownie Cake features three decadent layers of brownie, peppermint cheesecake, and chocolate cake. With a light peppermint whipped cream frosting sandwiched between, and topped with a chocolate ganache glaze, this cake is a stunner.
You’ll never believe this, but I’m writing this post in the mall. Truth. As I sit here waiting for my brother, the rush of people are, well, rushing by – although some might just be sauntering. A bench is serving as my office in the mall that was a Christmastime tradition, more than a dozen years ago. Even now, the Scrooge puppet show that we watched as kids has just finished, I heard it not too far off.
You might be wondering what could be so special about a mall. Especially a mall at Christmas during the utter chaos of the season. I’d be wondering too. But memories are filled with· my mom and aunt taking all of us cousins to see the big train display, marvel at the outrageous toys at FAO Shwarz and pick up some treats in the adjoining candy store. It may seem weird, but this mall was a fun place to visit during the festive season.
How things change, but at least we have memories to hold on to! Unfortunately, many things have changed about this mall since I was a youngster. The arrival of new shops and the loss of some dearly loved shops; the big train display, the puppet shows, and the lack of penguins which used to appear around this time (yes, penguins). Even so, through all the changes, it is still a family tradition – which is partly why I’m here today. :)
Do you have any special Christmastime memories/traditions?
Now about this cake… Oh, this cake. It’s not a memory or a tradition, but it should become one. If you’re an indecisive person, the person where the ice cream shop with 50 flavors is more nightmare than pleasure, you will love this dessert. Even if you’re not indecisive. It consists of three layers.. andthree different desserts. Why choose between options when you can have them all?
Am I right or what?
OK, so more on these layers, these THREE luscious layers. They consist of:
And sandwiched between said layers is a peppermint whipped cream frosting. On top? Ganache. Pure ganache.
I chose the whipped cream frosting because I’m not a big fan of the usual frosting fare paired with something other than pure cake. The idea didn’t just seem to work and the thought of cheesecake paired with a buttercream frosting wasn’t thrilling me. But whipped cream? That’s different. And it’s really what this cake needs as it’s heavy enough already.
And that’s also partly why I chose a ganache glaze for toppers – well, that and the fact it’s ganache. Ganache! Ganache goes with everything and is awesome with everything. Ganache and cake? Yes. Ganache and cheesecake? Heck, yeah. Ganache and brownies? One of the best toppings for a brownie! Ganache and burgers? Ok, not that, but you get my point.
Now, let’s break down the layers individually. First, there’s the cake. This cake is my new favorite chocolate cake recipe and I don’t I’ll ever make another. It’s moist (which is pretty much all I look for in a cake) and full of chocolate goodness (um, it has coffee!). It also makes a wonderful accompaniment to the cheesecake.
Then there’s the peppermint cheesecake. It’s peppermint cheesecake and I shouldn’t have to tell you anything more… but I will. The highlight is the peppermint candies inside which melt into the batter and make for wonderful flavors. This not only goes well with the chocolate cake but is lovely with the brownie – think of a brownie base cheesecake.
Finally, the brownie. I chose one of my go-to recipes; it’s a good amount of fudgy and good in the way only a brownie can be. It’s also no muss, no fuss to make, which is what you need for this cake.
Put these layers together and voila, chocolate peppermint heaven.
Before making, here are a few things to note:
Make sure all your pans are exactly the same size. If you look, you can see the cake is a little off and that’s because one of my 3 identical cake pans went missing (how does that happen?) and so I used one that was a little deeper than the others. Not good.
The brownie layer is definitely thinner than the other layers. If this bothers you, you can either, trim a little more off the cake (it’s pretty thick), double the brownie recipe, or use your personal favorite brownie recipe.
Cold brownie can be a little hard to cut through, so be sure to use a sharp knife for cutting.
If you want to decorate the top with some whipped cream, then I recommend doubling the whipped cream frosting recipe – it’s better than using store-bought whipped cream
And I think that’s about it!
P.S. Please pardon the million steps (I wish I could break them up more!) and please don’t be intimidated by them – the time involved is really the hardest thing about this recipe. It’s worth the effort and you can do it! I have faith.
⅓ C. + 2 tbsp. peppermint crunch baking chips (I use Andes)
Chocolate Cake Layer:
1 C. + 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 C. granulated sugar
6 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
1/2 C. buttermilk, shaken(I recommend full-fat buttermilk!)
1/4 C. vegetable oil
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 C. freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 C. granulated sugar
3/4 C. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 C. cup all-purpose flour
Whipped Cream Frosting:
1 C. heavy whipping cream, well chilled
½ C. powdered sugar
¼ tsp. Peppermint extract
1 ½ C. (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 C. heavy cream (or heavy whipping cream)
Crushed peppermint candies
Whipped cream frosting, optional
For the cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper.
In a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth.
Add in sugar and beat until thoroughly combined.
Add eggs, beating after each addition.
Beat in half and half, then extracts. Beat until well combined, scraping the bowl as needed.
Stir in peppermint baking chips.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-27 minutes, or until set in center and edges are puffed.
When done baking, remove from oven and place on a cooling rack. Cool slightly, then run knife around edges of cheesecake. Cool completely.
Once cool, invert cheesecake onto a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap then place in freezer while making other layers, at least 1 hour.
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray (or grease with butter and flour).
Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl.
In a small/medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla until combined.
Add coffee and whisk until just combined.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs attached when inserted.
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.
For the brownies (if you have double ovens, the brownies can bake separately while the cake bakes to save time):
Preheat oven to 325° F.
Line the bottom of an 8 in. round cake pan with parchment paper and spray with baking spray (or grease with butter and flour).
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, cocoa, and salt.
Add butter, pouring in a steady stream, and whisking constantly until blended.
Add in vanilla and whisk to combine.
Add eggs one at a time, whisking vigorously to blend after each addition.
Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour and stir until just combined, scraping sides of bowl as needed.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few crumbs attached when inserted.
Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Once cake and brownies are cool enough to handle, invert onto cooling rack to cool completely.
Once ready to assemble, make frosting.
For the frosting:
Place the bowl of a stand mixer (or a metal bowl and beaters of an electric mixer) along with whisk attachment in freezer for about 10 minutes to chill.
In the chilled bowl using the chilled whisk attachment, whisk the cream until frothy and slightly thick.
Gradually add powdered sugar then peppermint extract and beat until thick. You will want it thick enough for spreading as a frosting.
If you have doubled the frosting recipe to use for garnish, reserve about ½ C. and place in fridge.
Remove cheesecake from freezer.
Trim top off of cake.
Place the brownie, top side down on a cake plate/pedestal.
Place ½ of the frosting on the brownie and spread evenly over the top.
Unwrap cheesecake and place top side up on top of brownie layer.
Spread remaining frosting evenly over the top of cheesecake.
Place cake top side down on top of cheesecake layer and place in fridge.
Make the ganache:
Place chocolate chips in a medium-sized bowl.
In a microwave safe bowl/container/measuring cup, microwave on high setting for 1 ½ - 2 minutes, or until just beginning to simmer. (This can also be done on the stove top in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, if you prefer.)
Pour cream over chocolate and let stand for about 5 minutes.
Then, whisk together until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted.
Remove cake from fridge and pour ganache over the top, spreading with a spatula so it goes over the sides.
Using the spatula, spread ganache around the sides of cake until thoroughly coated.
Decorate the top with crushed peppermint candies and place in fridge to allow ganache to set.
If decorating with whipped cream frosting: once ganache is set and you are ready to serve, pipe some of the reserved frosting around the top of cake and sprinkle with peppermint dust (or very finely ground peppermints), if desired.
Store any leftover cake in the fridge and make sure it does not sit out for too long at room temperature.
Spicy Slow Cooker Chili:This chili is loaded with meat and packed full of flavor and spice. Coming together in about 20 minutes and cooked in the slow cooker, this a meal that will taste like you spent all day to put together! Perfect for life’s busy moments, the holiday rush, game days, and just because! If you love chili, meat, and spice, this just might become your new favorite chili. :)
Hi there! First of all, I hope all is going well with your Christmas preparations and the stress levels are being kept at bay. Second, please pardon the rare break from sweets, but with it being that time of year where we could all stand a little ease and slow cookers in our lives, and with this chili being one of the best you’ll ever have (in my humble opinion), I just couldn’t keep this recipe to myself.
I knew you’d understand.
If you’ve read my blog bio, you’ll see where, in my list of random facts about me (that I just know the whole world wants to see… not), I state my love for Mexican food. If you would have asked me a few years ago what my favorite cuisine was, I’m not sure that would have been on the list.
It was only in the last year or two, that I noticed my gravitation towards foods which included lime, cilantro, all the good spices, – cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper – jalapeno (yeah, baby!), avocado, etc. and thus decided that Mexican food had to be my favorite cuisine. Which, come to think of it, only makes sense as there is some Spanish blood flowing through my veins. :)
Maybe it was because years ago I never ate at the right restaurants (uh, Chuy’s, Torchy’s? Where were you??) and didn’t eat a lot of it at home – who knows. But there it is!
OK, now about spice. The short and sweet of it is I love it. I’m the person who does not remove the insides of a jalapeno when using it. I’m also the person who was devastated at Pei Wei removing the “Blazing Noodles” from their menu – even though it was so spicy I could hardly eat it. However, while my spice tolerance is above most people’s (I’m surprised at what people consider spicy – I mean, Rotel is not spicy, in the least), I still like to enjoy my food and therefore try to keep things from being burning bites of fire.
Sometimes I fail, though. Like on Halloween. When making chili for a group I try to keep it from being spicy, especially when my nieces are involved. But the Halloween batch was still a bit too spicy and I felt so bad when my nieces were pushing it away for that purpose! They’ll probably refuse to eat it next time… ;P
So, if you are the person who thinks that Rotel is spicy, this recipe is not for you. (But don’t turn away because I have a way you can make this NOT spicy!) This recipe is for those who can tolerate the spice from a jalapeno and like for their sinuses to be cleared.
Now that we’ve covered spice levels, I can tell you how wonderful this chili is. It’s the bomb. You might not think it looking at the ingredients involved – though, bacon! – but the flavors are stellar. And piled on top of the cornbread waffles? Oh. my. Myohmyohmy.
What I love most about this chili is how you can throw it in the slow cooker and have the results making you feel like you’re having a non-weeknight meal on a weeknight. Like, a really good chili shouldn’t be this easy! And if you choose to skip the cornbread waffles, that makes things even easier.
Also, if you’re into the game day thing, this is perfect for that as well. Not only do you have the slow cooker aspect, but it’s deliciously meaty and perfect for the guys in your life – I should know, I have three… #lifewithbrothers.
Now that we’ve covered the chili, I have to tell you about this cornbread, which has been more appropriately dubbed around here as corn-cake. I’ve got to be honest, that’s what it tastes like (see? I couldn’t let you go without some measure of sugar)! It’s the best cornbread I’ve ever had and the only one I’ll make. It’s moist and can be eaten and thoroughly enjoyed on its own.
It can also be made three ways: in a pan, as muffins, annd as waffles!!
My family loves to do the chili + cornbread waffle thing and it’s seriously one of the best ways to eat chili. The waffle comes out crisp but under the chili becomes soft and the perfect remedy to soothe the taste buds from the spice.
Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl: This ice cream starts with a rich chocolate peppermint base and features a peppermint crunch marshmallow swirl throughout. Creamy in texture, perfectly decadent, and full of chocolate and peppermint flavor, this ice cream is the perfect cold Christmastime treat!
Hi there! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of food, laughter, good times, and more food. :)
As I mentioned in my last post, we celebrated the holiday in Texas this year. However, for me, the fun began on Friday. For a few weeks prior, my mom and I discussed the idea of taking a day trip the day after Thanksgiving for some hiking and relaxation, and to get away from the madness that is called Black Friday. I was happy that the sibs were in favor of the idea (you know, they really can be wet blankets sometimes… just kidding! kind of.), even though there was grumbling about the early departure time involved. The two state parks we originally discussed visiting were a little too far for a day trip so Caddo Lake was settled on.
I had heard and seen pictures of Caddo Lake and from what I could tell it looked lovely. Also, the general feedback was very positive; people seemed to love it. Anyway, so on Friday morning (after a two hour delay in leaving…) we headed off. After spending way too long in a Texas-sized-are-you-kidding-me-this-place-is-huge rest/truck stop, three hours of sore bums, and arriving three hours later than planned, we arrived at the park. Let me tell you, drive included, I saw a side of Texas I had no clue existed. If it weren’t for the fact that the people around gave it away – Texans will be Texans – I’m not sure I would have known we were still in the state! It’s a beautiful area and the lake itself is truly magical with the bald cypress trees adorning it. And guys, there were trees all around! Even on the drive there – I mean, I. never. knew. (The area I live in, Dallas/Fort Worth, is not aesthetically pleasing with its many buildings and roads.)
(↑ This photo was taken by my mom :)
The east side of Texas, however, is obviously different (the state park is right on the Louisiana border and the lake actually goes into Louisiana). Trees lined the highway and when hiking around the park, I actually felt like I was on the east coast.
We spent the first bit of our time canoeing and kayaking around the lake (I must say I was disappointed and somewhat relieved at the same time at not seeing any alligators) and the other bit taking a short hike in the park and taking in the beautiful scenery until sunset. I’m so glad we went and am already longing to go back and explore more of the lake (it has over 50 miles of paddling trails!).
OK, so now that you have probably been thoroughly bored by the wordy details of my family’s trip, let’s talk about this Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl (< good grief, what a mouthful). This recipe is another in my growing list of no-churn ice cream recipes and it’s the perfect cold Christmastime treat.
I can never say enough about this no-churn ice cream base – the texture is amazing and the flavor possibilities endless. This particular combination is super yummy, perfectly Christmasy, and the flavors are out of this world amazing. The peppermint crunch candy gives it just the right amount of crunch without being overly crunchy. I also loove the way the chocolate flavor shines through, making it rich and decadent. So if you plan on making any ice cream this winter, consider making this one – I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
Chocolate Peppermint Ice Cream with Peppermint Crunch Marshmallow Swirl