Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I recently saw a recipe on a friend's Facebook page for Dark Chocolate Peppermint M&M Cookies and I could not wait to try them out. I planned to make them while hunkered down during a snowstorm, but then I realized I did not have some very key ingredients at home (such as the M&Ms!), so I convinced my husband to take me out to get the stuff I needed before the snow got too bad. The trade-off was that he got to choose the store and instead of going to the large and very popular grocery store in town he chose a smaller specialty shop. Of course they didn't have the ingredients I needed either, so since I liked the concept of a chocolate mint cookie I grabbed some mint chocolate chips and called it a day. 

I made a lot of adjustments based on what I did have on hand, including omitting the M&Ms and the dark chocolate powder. Of course that means the name had to change, but for the sake of this post I am using the original recipe as guidance and just deleting/substituting what I did have. I am also keeping the original directions but changing it where necessary. Thanks to My Baking Addiction for a great base for me to start from! Be sure to check out her site for the original recipe 

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

YIELD: 3 dozen
PREP TIME: 15 minutes


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup Hershey's Cocoa Powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 oz milk chocolate chips
8 oz (2 sticks, 1 cup) unsalted butter, divided
2 cups granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup Nestlé Toll House Winter Mint and Chocolate Morsels
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
Crushed candy canes (optional)


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and kosher salt. Use a whisk to stir, evenly distributing the dry ingredients and aerating the flour at the same time. Set aside.
3. In a large measuring cup, melt together 4 oz (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter and chocolate in the microwave, heating 30 seconds at a time. After 30 seconds, stir the butter and chocolate together, then heat again. Stir after each increment until butter and chocolate combine easily. Do not overcook. Set aside to slightly cool.
4. In the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl, mix the remaining 4 oz of butter together with granulated sugar, scraping the bowl often. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing on medium speed after each addition. Continue to scrape the sides of the bowl often.
5. Add vanilla to the mixture and mix on medium speed again until the wet ingredients are well combined. Leave the mixer on low speed and slowly add in the chocolate-butter mixture. Add it slowly so as not to accidentally 'cook' the eggs with the warm chocolate.
6. When chocolate has been completely incorporated, begin to add the dry ingredients in increments, mixing on low speed after each addition.
7. When a cohesive chocolate dough has formed, be sure to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to get any remaining flour and mix again, then remove from the stand mixer if using one.
8. Add both the mint and white chocolate chips to the dough, mixing them through by hand.
9. Use a medium sized cookie scoop to distribute 6-8 dough balls per baking sheet.
10. Bake each tray for 12-14 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle tops with crushed candy canes (this is optional. I used a fine candy cane dust that i got by running the candy through the Magic Bullet). Press each cookie with the flat back of a spatula to flatten, then allow to cool.
11. Cool the cookies on the baking tray for a moment, then move them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here are the Winter morsels. Very tasty!

And the finished cookies:

I think this will be added to my "Tried and True" collection for next year!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas is WHEN?

Tonight as I tucked him in, my five year old asked how many more days until Christmas. I thought about it and realized it was only nine more "sleeps".  NINE MORE SLEEPS until we wake up on Christmas morning. How did that happen?

This year went by incredibly fast, but the weeks since Thanksgiving seemed to have passed in a mere blink of an eye. Perhaps it's because I was very busy all year with my crafting business (I have been very lucky to have some wonderful return customers) and it has barely slowed down, especially during the holiday season. Or perhaps it is because I am a little less organized this year and I didn't make my usual lists to keep track of lists. But all I know is that in the next nine days I need to finish my final custom order, create and order our yearly personalized calendars for my family, wrap gifts, bake two kinds of cookies, make two kinds of truffles, and try out a cinnamon sugar almond recipe that just may make it into my coworkers and neighbor's gift baskets (all 21 of them). I also need to brave the mall to get said baskets for those treats. Oh, then there is also my son's school's cookie decorating extravaganza and holiday program.  Lets add on some snow to top it all off, which means I won't make it to the grocery store after work tomorrow for the last minute ingredients I need. But that's what a husband's day off is for, right? Who wants to tell him????

Not that any of these things are stressing me out. I am looking at it all like a big Christmas challenge. Which is why I am writing this blog instead of wrapping the Yankee swap gift for tomorrow's work luncheon, which is resting by my feet. As hard as I will it with my mind, I suppose that emergency auto kit just isn't going to jump in a bag all on its own.

But wouldn't that just be a Christmas miracle if it did???

Nine more sleeps and I will regain my sanity, I promise!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Redesigned website

I have had my website, for years now but it was a regular site that wasn't really conducive as an e-commerce solution. I learned a little basic HTML to make it look nice and I added PayPal buttons for some of my items but it got cumbersome to keep up with, especially with hundreds of products in my inventory. Then I discovered Etsy and opened my store there. It was a great solution because so many people are familiar with it already.  They would search for what they wanted and if I had something similar in stock then they would find me.  Perfect!  Unfortunately the fees started adding up after a while. And then their rules seemed to change often.  It went from a handmade site to one that also hosts mass produced and vintage items.  I don't feel like I belong there anymore (or worse yet, as if I am not wanted).

So needless to say I've been wanting to redesign my site for a while now, but time and money were the biggest obstacles. Isn't that always the case no matter what you're talking about? But since I was finally frustrated enough (and my old website hosting was about to expire) I finally made the change.  And I found a wonderful hosting partner with Merchant Moms.

The site is very easy to use once you get started and the customer service is amazing. They are with you every step of the way and anytime you hit a bump in the road they immediately make things smooth again. Needless to say I have been spending hours upon hours getting my site up and running. What better time to do this then Christmas? That was sarcasm, by the way. Only I would choose to roll out a brand-new website at my busiest time of the year.

Now driving traffic to an e-commerce site is the number one thing and unless I get my name out there nobody is going to know who I am. (IF anyone has any advice on how to use meta-tags please, please, please share)!

Overall I am thrilled with my new site and it is what I always wanted to have. So PLEASE f you are reading this I would love it if you checked out I have so many things on there that would be great for stocking stuffers or gifts for teachers and caregivers.

Spread the word if you like what you see. Use the Pinterest buttons, or share on Facebook. You tell two friends and they tell two friends and so on and so forth. It's definitely still a work in process but it's better than what I had before!!

Oh, and if anyone would like to come decorate my Christmas tree in exchange for a key fob, I'm sure we could work something out!