Archive | November, 2011

Oh, how I’ve missed you! {Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies}

28 Nov

So, hi … it’s been awhile.  I know it’s not surprising this time of year, but things have been a little crazy lately … which has meant very little time for baking and crafting!  Some of the distractions were lots of fun {two November weddings this year!}, and some distractions were less than fun {coordinating our fiscal year-end audit at work}.  Thanks to the help of everyone in my department though, the audit went very smoothly; and I thought some kind of treat to celebrate and to offer a small thanks to my co-workers would be in order.  And what better way to unwind after the audit than trying out a new cookie recipe?!?

I love fresh mint!

So I went where I always go when I want a reliable, delicious recipe using mostly pantry ingredients – Simply Scratch!  This time it was her recipe for Dark Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies that had me dreaming of the coming holiday season.  Long story short, these cookies made for a deliciously unexpected flavor combination, and I would definitely recommend trying them out if you’re a fan of fresh mint.

The fresh mint gives these cookies an earthy flavor that tends almost toward the savory; rather than the super-sweetness we have come to expect from the likes of Thin Mints, Grasshoppers, and other chocolate mint cookies {which I also love, for the record!}.  My only word of warning is that you may want to have a glass of milk handy when you eat these, as they have a dense, cakey texture.  I took home an empty container, so I think there were a few fans around the office as well!  As always, the recipe was easy to follow and the only change I made to her original recipe was to use regular cocoa powder rather than special dark {we were just getting back from a wedding and it’s what I had on-hand}.

Here’s the original recipe as it reads on Simply Scratch.  Enjoy!  {p.s.  stay tuned for some fun holiday crafts coming up soon :) }

{Dark Chocolate Mint Crackle Cookies}

Makes 30-36 cookies

  • 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dark chocolate cocoa powder {again, I just used regular unsweetened cocoa powder}
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves, {10 grams}
  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 3 whole eggs, lightly beaten
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar, for rolling the cookie dough
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling the cookie dough
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in the middle of your oven. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place mint and sugar into a food processor and blend until it resembles coarse, wet sand.

Melted chocolate & fresh mint ... smells amazing at this point!

In a sauce pan over the lowest setting melt the chocolate and butter. Stir often to avoid scorching and remove when only a few lumps remain. Stir until completely melted then pour into a large bowl. Add the mint sugar to the chocolate and stir. When the chocolate has cooled a tad, gradually add eggs and vanilla and stir. 
Add a third of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, mix by hand. Repeat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour. 

Cookie Rolling Station!

Using a tablespoon or small ice cream scoop, measure and roll into uniform balls. Roll the cookie balls in granulated sugar and then powdered sugar, then place the cookie balls an inch apart on a lined or greased, rimmed baking sheet. Slide into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes depending on your oven. Remove and let cool on the pan for 5 minutes then remove to cooling rack to finish.

All ready for the oven!

Just out of the oven!

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Pretty Packages {DIY Favor Boxes}

1 Nov

With the holidays just around the corner, many of us will be scrambling to pull together little gifts for neighbors, mailmen, teachers, and party hosts.  An easy way to make sure your little treasure doesn’t get lost in a blur of red and green cellophane is to make your own custom boxes.  With the right tools, it’s super easy, and the recipients will surely appreciate the extra time and thought that went into their gifts!  Here’s an example of some favor boxes that I made for a bachelorette happy hour a few weeks back.

These little guys are 4″ x 4″ x 2″ and I simply divided a store-bought sampler of chocolates among them to make a little treat for each of the ladies that came out.  Here’s what you need to make these boxes:

  • Cardstock paper of your choice {2 sheets of 8″ square cardstock will make one box of this size}
  • Scoring board & bone folder {or a ruler and something to make crisp folds}
  • Scissors
  • Double-sided tape {or this handy tape runner}
  • Embellishments of your choice

I personally LOVE my scoring board and use it all the time, and the Martha Stewart version comes with an easy guide for making boxes and envelopes; but you can certainly measure and fold without having one.  Here’s a quick step-by-step guide to making your very own box.

1. Pick your paper {and cut down to 8″ x 8″ if necessary}.  I was in the holiday spirit and chose kraft paper brown for the base and forest green for the top.  The red pictured below is for decorating the top later!

2. Score your base sheet at the 2″ mark and the 6″ mark, turn 90 degrees and repeat.  Fold at each scored line and, using a bone folder or other flat edge, smooth each fold to make it very crisp.  Your paper should now look like this:

3. Score your lid sheet at the 1 15/16″ mark and the 6 1/16″ mark to provide clearance over the base.  Turn 90 degrees and repeat.  Again, make sure each fold is crisp.

4. Using scissors, cut along any one scored line from the edge of the paper just to the intersection of the perpendicular scored line.  Do the same for the scored line on the same side of the paper.  Rotate 180 degrees and repeat on the opposite side.  Your paper should now look like this {both the base and the lid}:

5. Fold in the tabs you’ve just created and complete the box using double-sided tape like so:

6. Embellish as desired! NOTE:  If you plan to embellish with rubber stamps or any other method where you will be applying pressure to the top of the box, you should do this before you complete Step 5.  If you’re just gluing or taping, it’s fine to wait until the end!

Hopefully this all makes sense, but if not, here’s a great step-by-step video that walks you through making a box using the scoring board.  If you really want to increase your options, you can start with 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper which will yield a variety of handy box sizes and comes in limitless designs.  Here’s an example of a box I made using scrapbook paper and filled with pumpkin bites for a friend’s birthday!

I would love to see some of your ideas for the upcoming holiday season!  Happy November!