Melted Candy Cane-Filled Cocoa Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen small sandwich cookies
Inspired by tiny chocolate sparkle cookies but with a festive holiday twist!
For the cookies:
1 1/4 cups (156 grams) flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (35 grams) unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (100 grams) brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
scant 1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
For the buttercream frosting:
4 tablespoons (56 grams) unsalted butter, very soft
2 cups (200 grams) powdered sugar
2 medium (36 grams) candy canes*
4 tablespoons (60 ml) half and half
pure peppermint extract, to taste
Make the cookies: Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside. In a medium bowl beat the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add the egg and extracts and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be quite stiff.
Wrap the dough in plastic and gently press it into a disk. Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to several days. If you are pressed for time (or are perhaps like me and can not wait) you should be able to get away with chilling the dough in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 and line a baking sheet with parchment. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough, dusting with more flour if needed, to about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick. Use a fluted 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter to stamp out as many cookies as possible and reroll the scraps as necessary. Bake for 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Make the frosting: In a large bowl beat together the softened butter with about 1 cup (100 grams) powdered sugar until the butter is mostly combined into the sugar and no large pieces remain. It will look crumbly but don’t fret. Set aside while you make the candy cane cream.
Use a rolling pin (or other heavy kitchen item) to finely crush the candy canes in a heavy-duty plastic bag. You should get about 1/4 cup of crushed candy and you want the pieces to be very small so they melt quickly and evenly. Combine the crushed candy cane and half and half in a small saucepan. Slowly heat the mixture over low heat – whisking constantly – until all the candy cane bits have melted. Be careful not the let the mixture boil. The half and half should just be warm enough so that it melts the candy and when the they have melted completely, turn off the heat.
With the beaters running slowly pour the candy cane cream into the butter and powdered sugar mixture and whip until combined. Add the remaining cup of powdered sugar and beat for several minutes, scraping the bowl as needed, until the frosting is smooth and spreadable. Taste the frosting and add a few drops of peppermint extract if you feel it needs more mint zing! (I added about 1/8 teaspoon of extract.)
Assemble the sandwich cookies: Transfer the frosting to a pastry bag fitted with wide tip (I couldn’t find mine and used just the coupler) and pipe a small amount of frosting on the bottom side of half of the cookies. Place the remaining cookies on top and gently squeeze each sandwich together to spread the filling to the edges.
Filled cookies can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.