During the holidays, I yearn for any treats with chocolate and peppermint. Peppermint mocha? Count me in. Chocolate peppermint ice cream? Yes, please. As a holiday cookie fanatic, I knew I had to create a version of chocolate peppermint cookies that satisfy my cravings.
These Chocolate Peppermint Shortbreads are tender cookies decorated with a glossy coat of chocolate topped with crunchy peppermint candies. They come together quickly with little fuss—just make the dough, chill, slice, bake, and decorate. These cookies are quick enough to crank out on a weeknight or as a fun weekend family project.
How to Make Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
Make the shortbread dough, consisting of flour, butter, powdered sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and peppermint extract. Roll it into a log shape, chill, slice, and bake. Once cooled completely, dip the shortbread in melted chocolate and crushed peppermint candies. That’s it!
Tips for the Best Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
Shortbread can sometimes be finicky, but with the right ingredients and techniques, you can bake up a delicious cookie.
- Use Dutch-processed cocoa powder for a darker color and smoother chocolate flavor.
- Soften the butter to room temperature for tender, slightly crumbly shortbread. Some recipes call for cold butter, which gives the cookies a flakier, crumbly texture. I prefer a softer, tender texture, as it pairs better with the taste of rich cocoa.
- Use powdered sugar, instead of granulated sugar to eliminate any graininess in the texture of the cookie.
- Allow the chocolate dipped cookies to set completely before serving. Otherwise, the melted chocolate will be a sticky mess.
Baking Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
Plain shortbread is easy to tell when fully baked because their bottoms will turn a pale golden brown. Unfortunately, chocolate shortbread is naturally darker in color and can be difficult to assess for doneness. Use the following cues to determine if your cookies are ready:
- As your cookies bake, they will turn from glossy and wet to a matte finish when ready.
- After the ten-minute timer goes off and the tops of the cookies look dry, take them out of the oven. Carefully use your pointer finger or the back of the small spoon to gently tap the top of a cookie. It should make a very slight indent when fully baked.
- If the cookies appear wet or your finger creates a significant indent, place them back into the oven for another two minutes.
- These cookies yield a soft texture, but if you prefer a crunchier, denser shortbread, you can bake them at 325°F for 15 minutes.
Swaps, Substitutions, and Add-ins
Not a fan of semi-sweet chocolate? Need a way to use up those leftover candy canes? We’ve got a few easy swaps for you!
- Instead of the round peppermint candy I use for this recipe, candy canes would achieve the same result. You could also purchase peppermint sprinkles online.
- The recipe calls for unsalted butter, but salted butter works too. Make sure to omit the added kosher salt if using salted butter.
- Use dark or white chocolate: The slightly bitter notes of the Dutch-process cocoa pair well with semi-sweet chocolate, but you could coat the cookies with dark chocolate or white chocolate chips.
How to Crush the Peppermint Candy
The most enjoyable part of this recipe is crushing the peppermint candies, which adds a wonderfully crunchy texture and minty flavor. The fastest way to crush peppermint candies is to grind them in a spice grinder or in a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, place them in sealed zip top bags (double bag them so that the bags don’t tear) and use a mallet or a rolling pin to crush them into small pieces.
How to Store the Cookies
There are several ways to store the shortbread before and after baking.
- For the dough: Keep the dough in log form, chilled in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Alternatively, refrigerate the log for two hours until firm, then place it in an airtight bag in the freezer for up to one month. To bake the cookies, let the log thaw in the refrigerator for a few hours until sliceable. You can also pre-slice the log before freezing for easier baking.
- For the baked cookies: Once the cookies bake, let them cool completely, then decorate and store them in an airtight container at room temperature for three to four days. You could also freeze the decorated cookies in an airtight container for up to one month.
Fan of All Things Sweet and Minty?
Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread
1/4 cup (29g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
2 sticks (230g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more as needed
1 cup (120g) powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup peppermint candies
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Sift the dry ingredients:
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a small bowl using a sifter or a fine-mesh sieve. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar:
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or handheld electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar on low speed until the sugar is fully combined. Then, increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and creamy, about 3 minutes.
Add the extract and salt:
On low speed, add the peppermint extract and salt and mix just until combined.
Add the dry ingredients:
With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture until just combined, about 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. If the dough feels dry and crumbly, you can add softened butter 1 teaspoon at a time until it comes together.
Roll dough into a log:
Divide the dough in half. Place one portion in the center of a large piece of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter.
Fold the plastic over to cover the dough. Using your hands, form the dough into a tight log shape, rolling it on the counter to smooth it out.
It doesn’t have to be perfect! The log should be about 2 inches in diameter and 4 to 5 inches long. Repeat with the other portion.
Chill the dough:
Refrigerate the cookie logs for about 1 hour or until firm.
Place the racks and preheat the oven:
Just before the cookies finish chilling, arrange two racks in the middle and bottom third of the oven and preheat it to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Slice the cookies:
Use a chef’s knife to slice the log into 1/4-inch thick circles. Evenly arrange them onto both baking sheets leaving at least 1 inch between the cookies to account for spreading.
Bake the cookies:
Bake for 10 minutes or until the cookies are set, turning and rotating the pans between racks halfway through.
The cookies will turn from glossy and wet to matte. They will feel slightly soft out of the oven but should barely make an indent when gently tapped them with your fingers. If they look shiny or feel too soft, continue baking until firmed up, about 2 minutes.
Cool the cookies:
Let cookies cool on the baking sheets for 2 minutes. Then, transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Set the parchment paper-lined baking sheets aside. You will use them again when decorating the cookies.
Crush the peppermint candies:
Crush the peppermint candies into small pieces using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Alternatively, place the peppermint candies in a double-bagged zip top bag and seal. With a mallet or rolling pin, crush them until fine in texture. You’re looking for pieces that are 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch for a nice visual look and textural contrast. Transfer the crushed candy to a small plate.
Melt the chocolate chips:
In a small microwave-safe bowl, add the chocolate chips. Microwave for 30 seconds on full power, then stir. Repeat, heating and stirring in 15-second intervals until the chocolate melts into a smooth, homogenous texture.
Decorate the cookies:
Dip each cooled cookie halfway into the melted chocolate. Sprinkle the crushed peppermint candy over the chocolate on the top side of the cookie. Shake off any excess candy back onto the peppermint plate to reuse.
Place the decorated cookies on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Allow the chocolate to fully set before serving.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 10g||13%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||31%|
|Total Carbohydrate 18g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||3%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|