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December 8, 2008 / Tony

Chocolate Mint Surprises

These are my favorite Christmas cookies.  It’s a cross between shortbread and a Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie.  I think the combination is dynamite.  The cookie part is buttery and has that crunchy shortbread feel while the chocolate inside offers some decadence and that impeccable holiday flavor-mint.

Chocolate Mint Surprises, from the Joy of Cooking

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled but not firm and cut into small pieces

2 1/4 cup (11.25 ounces) all purpose flour

2 large egg yolks

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

About 20 wafer thin chocolate mints (After Eights are perfect)

Place the butter and flour in large bowl.  Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla with a fork until well blended.  Stir the egg yolk mixture into the flour mixture.  Then knead to form a stiff dough.

Divide the dough in half.  Place each half between two large sheets of parchment or wax paper.  Roll out to a generous 1/8 inch thick, checking the underside of the dough and smoothing any creases.  Keeping the paper in place, layer the rolled dough on a baking sheet and freeze until cold and slightly firm, about 20 minutes.

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.  Working with one portion of dough at a time, gently peel away and replace one sheet of the paper (or just turn it over).   This will make it easier to peel the cookies off later.  Peel away and discard the second sheet of paper.  Cut out the cookies, using a fluted or plain round 2 1/4 cutter or the rim of a small glass.  With a spatula, transfer the cookies to the cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart.  Roll out any dough scraps between paper and reuse.

Bake one sheet at a time, just until the cookies are lightly colored on top and slightly darker around the edges, 9-14 minutes.  Rotate the sheet halfway through baking for evening browning.  Remove the sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies stand just until firm enough to lift but still hot.  Turn half of the cookies over on the cookie sheet.  Immediately cover the turned cookies with one thin chocolate mint wafer.  Cover with the cookie tops, top side up.  Press down lightly.  Let the sandwiches stand on the cookie sheets until the mints melt.  Transfer the sandwiches to racks until the cookies are cool and the fillings are set.  During the cooling process, correct any sandwiches that slip askew.

A few notes:  1)  The Joy of Cooking is adamant that only very thin chocolate mint wafers are used.  Otherwise, the cookies will not stay together because the filling will be too large to melt completely between the cookies.  It’s good advice.  The only things that I have found work are Nestle’s After Eights.  They’re a perfect size and taste great.  2)  To make these cookies a bit more festive, sprinkle some colored sugar on top of half of the cookies.  3)  Katelyn says that she enjoys these cookies as well.  Enjoy!

Chocolate Mint Surprises

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