White Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies. A tender, buttery cookie with a hint of peppermint, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy cane pieces.
I am extremely behind in my cookie baking this year. I am not one to bake holiday recipes in summer. I like to bake during the fall and winter. It usually works out just fine for me unless something happens like a leak under our downstairs bathroom floor and we have to rip the whole thing apart which took a few days. Not the best thing to happen at the beginning of December.
In between rounds of bathroom demolition I have been able to sneak away to the kitchen to make a few batches of cookie dough. The dough gets chilled to bake later. This makes it easier to get cookies baked when the dough is already ready to go.
One dough that is great for making ahead of time is a shortcrust pastry dough or shortbread dough. Just a few ingredients and it comes together quickly, you don't even need to use a mixer.
One dough many cookies:
For all my Christmas cookies this year I am using a few Austrian and German baking books and recipes inherited from my grandmother. Two of the books have a basic recipe that can be used for shortcrust pastry for many different tart or cookie recipes. This dough is called Mürbteig. And most of my cookies this month are using this as the base dough recipe.
Murbteig dough is very versatile and couldn't be easier to make. It's the recipe where shortbread recipes came from. The kind of dough that uses a 1:2:3 ratio of sugar to butter to flour. A pretty much foolproof recipe and one you can easily adapt for many shortbread cookie recipes. Linzer cookie dough is very similar and it substitutes some of the flour with a ground nut flour such as almond or hazelnut.
While sugar, butter and flour ( most often just all purpose or plain flour) is used, there are often other ingredients to this dough. Some recipes call for granulated some for confectioners sugar.
I use either and with a long chilling time both work great and the cookies don't spread while baked. There is no leavening in these cookies in the way of baking soda or baking powder. It is not needed.
You can make the cookies with just those three and it will be a fantastic buttery cookie, but I personally find the Mürbteig that uses egg yolks, salt and a little flavoring to be more to my liking in far as ease of use with rolling out and taste. This kind of dough is also known as a pâte sucrée or brisée.
I will go into this kind of dough in more depth another time, so for now lets just get into these cookies. I strongly recommend using a food scale to weigh out your ingredients. When using a scoop for measuring flour more often than not the recipe ends up with too much flour and that doesn't make for the best cookie.
I chose a scalloped edge circle cutter and used a smaller circle butter for the inside. You can use any shape cutter you like, I wanted to make wreath shaped cookies.
One of my tricks for cookie dough that gets rolled and rerolled is to roll out between pieces of wax paper. This way the dough isn't soaking up excess flour and becoming tough.
The trick is to work quickly and keep the dough as cold as you can while rolling out and cutting. The cut outs are chilled before baking. This helps keep their shape when baked.
For these peppermint shortbread cookies, I added just a hint of peppermint extract in the dough ( make sure its peppermint or candy cane flavoring and not just mint or wintergreen, you don't want toothpaste tasting cookies).
I melted white chocolate - you can melt it any way you like, I prefer melting in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.
I only melt it and don't bother with tempering since I am not looking for a nice tempered chocolate shiny look as they are also covered in candy cane bits. For the candy cane pieces you can either smash candy canes in a bag with a rolling pin or buy a bag of candy cane bits from a well stocked grocery store that has holiday baking displays.
What ingredients are in peppermint shortbread cookies?
- Flour - all purpose.
- Butter - unsalted.
- Sugar - I use granulated, could also use confectioners or powdered.
- Egg yolks - save those whites for meringue cookies.
- Lemon zest - just a tiny bit to brighten up the dough flavor.
- Salt- sweets always need a little salt for balance.
- Peppermint extract - candy cane flavor not toothpaste mint.
- White chocolate - I like to use a high quality such as Lindt.
- Peppermint bits/crushed candy cane.
How do you make peppermint shortbread cookies?:
- Make the dough. Please weigh out your dough ingredients using a food scale. They will be much more accurate.
- Chill the dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate or freeze until ready to make. At least 4 hours.
- Roll out and cut the cookies.
- Chill the cut out cookies.
- Bake the cookies.
- Cool the cookies.
- Decorate the cookies
- Eat the cookies.
Weighing ingredients Vs using cups:
I use my food scale and weigh out ingredients in grams because this is the most accurate way to get the best quality baked goods. Cups aren't accurate because not only are all cups not the same the sizes vary from brand to brand as well as from different countries. I have done tests with different brands of measuring cups and they all came out with different weights after I did the spoon and level as well as scoop method and then weighed in grams.
Baking is a science and science needs accuracy. Weighing is accurate and precise. Not to mention a lot easier. Another issue with cups is that I have no control over how people use measuring cups to measure dry ingredients especially flour. You could pack in way too much which would result in a sub-par baked good. Too much flour could throw everything off. Same with not enough. Not to mention also some ingredients are difficult to measure in cups such as nuts, dried fruit, chocolate etc. This is why weighing in grams is the most accurate.
I also use grams for most liquid measure since 100 grams equals 100 ml of water. Smaller amounts of items measured in teaspoons I usually leave as teaspoons, tablespoons are sometimes listed in grams as well but for the most part the different tablespoons I have used have all resulted in the same amount. Aside from cute, decorative ceramic tablespoons and teaspoons are never accurate. Those are better as decoration than for being used for baking.
Other shortbread style Christmas cookie recipes you might enjoy besides these white chocolate peppermint shortbread cookies:
Linzer Kipferl Cookies - buttery Austrian Christmas cookies sandwiched with apricot jam and dipped in chocolate.
Five Spice Pineapple Jam Thumbprint Cookies - buttery cookies baked with a homemade five spice pineapple jam.
Jam Sandwich Cookies - similar to linzer cookies but the jam is sandwiched between the cookies before baking.
Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Sandwich Cookies - These are a little more involved than a basic shortbread, but they are so worth it because that espresso buttercream filling is incredible.
Coconut Shortbread Cookies - Another shortbread sandwich cookie with a buttercream filling and half dipped in chocolate. Everyone will be raving about these when you make them.
White Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies
- For the Mürbteig dough German shortcrust pastry dough:
- 3 cups all purpose flour 360g
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar 100g
- 3 packets vanilla sugar 24 g
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 260g cold but soft, cut into cubes
- 2 egg yolks cold
- ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
- 8 ounces white chocolate
- 1 cup candy cane pieces 120g
- The dough gets made up to a day ahead of baking so don’t preheat your oven first. I highly suggest weighing out your ingredients using grams with a kitchen scale. It will be much more accurate and taste better.
- In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla sugar. Add in the butter and egg yolks and mix until you get a cohesive dough. You can use a wooden spoon or spatula.
- Next, make sure hands stay cool as you knead the dough together until smooth. This can be done in the bowl or on a clean, flat surface.
- Split the dough into two portions and shape each into a disc, wrap each disc in plastic wrap, then chill 4 hours up to overnight. Overnight is best. You can also freeze the dough - just thaw overnight in refrigerator before baking.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 350 Deg F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Bring dough to cool room temperature, takes about 20 minutes for refrigerated dough.
- Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll out between pieces of wax paper to between ⅛ and ¼ inch thick (3-6mm thick). Err on the side of thicker. Dip your cookie cutter lightly in flour then cut out and place on prepared baking sheets using a spatula.. Chill the dough for 10 minutes ( either refrigerator or freezer).
- Bake for 10 minutes or until dry on top and firm but not turning golden. These are pale when fully baked.
- Let cool for 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely.
- When ready to decorate melt the white chocolate ( I prefer double boiler method best) and you can either dip the cookie tops in chocolate or spread on thinly with a small spatula. Sprinkle with the candy cane pieces and let dry completely.
- I will place the decorated cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and set in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up the chocolate. Once all decorated and the chocolate is set, store cookies in an airtight container at either cool room temperature or in the refrigerator or freezer. Serve at room temperature.
- If you use the spoon and level measuring cup method of measuring flour, this will result in a little more flour than if weighed out. The dough may be a little crumbly so a tablespoon or so of water or milk will be needed during kneading the dough to be able to form it together and make the discs before chilling.