At last, the storm has passed, and the dust has begun to settle once again. Having been on a practical lock-down at Christmas, hoping to weather the storm with as little damage as possible, there’s a disgraceful number of treats and crafts that weren’t shared in time. And really, who gives a flying fork about holiday goodies after the fact? Done and over with, be it a time to remember or desperately try to forget, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all washed our hands clean of jolliness and moved on.
So do me a favor, would you? Disregard the fact that I made these in a frenzy of holiday spirit, whipping up a quadruple (unless it was quintuple- I don’t quite recall) batch, bathing in the powerful aroma of chocolate and peppermint for hours. Squeezing that cookie gun for what felt like hours at a time, crossing the line from average holiday baker to crazed foodie once the blisters surfaced on my palms, it was an experience of both joy and extreme frustration. Thrilled to be sharing something sweet with so many friends and family members, wincing in pain at my hands, both looking redder and angrier by the moment, all of my energy went into just getting them done. Cool the cookies, fill them, wrap ‘em up, out the door, done, done, done.
Seeing them begin to arrive at their destinations, the misery was more than worth it, and all the complimentary comments were little nudges saying “Hey, you should share this on the blog!” I had the pictures, the recipe, everything ready to go, but I was sick of those adorable and delicious little morsels. Overdosing on the leftovers to cap off the whole experience, I had literally and figuratively taken one bite too many.
Slowly digesting that episode throughout the ensuing weeks, it may have taken over a month now, but I’m finally ready to think about those deceptively simple sandwich cookies again. Honestly, you won’t incur the same distress if you stick to one batch at a time, and there’s hardly any reason for the mentally sound person to go above that limit- It’s a big batch by any standards, even when you figure that every two cookies only makes one sandwich. The classic combo of chocolate and peppermint is an easy crowd pleaser, the crisp but still soft cocoa cookies yielding to a creamy, lightly minted filling, riddled with crunchy pieces of smashed candy canes.
It’s the sort of staple that you just can’t go wrong with, whether you give them as holiday presents, or whip up a batch later in the year to serve in the middle of summer. They do, by the way, taste fantastic straight out of the freezer, cold and refreshing, so don’t think you can safely “hide” them in there for too long.
Chocolate Spritz Cookies
2 Cups Vegetable Shortening
1 1/2 Cups Granulated Sugar
1 6-Ounce Container Vanilla Soy or Coconut Yogurt
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
3 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder
Candy Cane Filling:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheet with silpats or parchment paper. Set aside.
In your stand mixer, thoroughly cream together the shortening and sugar, so that the mixture is homogeneous. Add in the soy or coconut yogurt and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and cream that in as well.
In a different large bowl, whisk together all of the remaining dry goods for the cookies so that all of the ingredients are well-distributed throughout the mixture, and slowly add them to the stand mixer, incorporating them in 2 or 3 separate additions. The resulting batter with be very thick, and it may seem like it’s not going to come together, but just be patient; Do not, under and circumstances, add any extra liquid!
Once you achieve a cohesive dough, place a few mounds of it into your spritz cookie gun, which should already have the design you desired installed. Squeeze out cookies as directed by the manufacturer of the gun, reload when you run out of dough, and repeat. Once you use all of the batter and have your cookie sheets filled, place them in the oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes, until no long “wet” looking on top and the cookies look solid. It’s hard to tell when they’re done since the cookies are so dark to begin with, but make sure you never bake them longer than 10 minutes or else they’ll taste burnt.
Let the cookies cool on the sheets for at least 10 minutes, and then completely on a wire rack before filling.
To make the filling, simply whip together the margarine and shortening in your stand mixer until smooth. Add in the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and crushed mints, start the machine on a slow speed so as not to send sugar flying out, and gradually mix to incorporate. Once there’s no longer a risk of sending ingredients out onto the walls, turn up the speed to high and beat for about 5 minutes, until smooth, creamy, and fluffy. Apply to cookies as desired, sandwiching two together to finish.
Makes about 80 Chocolate Cookies; 40 Sandwich Cookies