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Cookies Day 7: Mini Black and White Cookies

Today was a long day. First day of internship after not a lot of sleep, work til 6, walk back 3 miles, run 6.5 miles, dinner, shower, cookies. In other words, I’m tired.

These cookies did not make me happy. I was expecting flat, miniature versions of the traditional cookie. Instead, I got puffy mounds. Even after icing the flat end, I still wasn’t that happy with them, even though they do taste pretty awesome. Light, with just a hint of lemon in the icing, paired with chocolate … but they’re too puffy. At least they’re tasty, but I found myself going over the recipe countless times to try and figure out where I missed up to make my cookies rise so much. Maybe it was the way I spooned them out onto the cookie sheet, even though I did exactly what the recipe said.

Oh well, can’t win em all, including my fantasy football team where I was a HUGE loser and forgot to check my players’ status on Saturday night and one was injured but it was too late to take him out by the time I noticed it ….. kiss kiss bye bye first place, it was fun.

The icing, at least, is fabulous. And makes a. lot.

Mini Black-and-White Cookies
(original recipe Gourmet December 2005)

Ingredients
For cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg

For icings
2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
4 to 6 tablespoons water
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Special equipment: a small offset spatula

Preparation
Make cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 large baking sheets.

Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together buttermilk and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture, and mixing just until smooth.

Drop rounded teaspoons of batter 1 inch apart onto baking sheets. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until tops are puffed, edges are pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 6 to 8 minutes total. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Make icings while cookies cool:
Stir together confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl until smooth. If icing is not easily spreadable, add more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as vanilla icing. Cover surface with a dampened paper towel, then cover bowl with plastic wrap.

Ice cookies:
With offset spatula, spread white icing over half of flat side of each cookie. Starting with cookies you iced first, spread chocolate icing over other half.

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Cookies Day 6: Pecan Sables

Nothing like a raging hangover to completely sap your energy. This post almost didn’t happen. After making a showing in public and going to Jay’s Christmas concert (Washington Men’s Camerata … there’s one more Christmas concert Sunday December 13 in Maryland, and you should go), eating an entire 2 Amys pizza, and zoning out in front of the TV, I wasn’t sure whether I would have it in me to bake more cookies.  Once again, I based my recipe decision on the number of ingredients we already had.

This recipe is pretty simple. Two important things: (1) don’t overbeat the dough after adding the flour/toasted pecan mixture and (2) don’t roll the dough out too thin. If I were to bake these cookies again, I think I would roll them out a little thicker. Another thing: because the cookies are so simple, the ingredients really matter. I just used regular salt, but next time I think I will use some sea salt to give it more of a bite.

I really love these cookies because they only have a hint of sweetness, and I honestly wish the salt taste was more perceptible. This recipe has another bonus of not making a ton of cookies, a definite plus when you’re starting to have storage issues or you don’t want a lot of extra goodies hanging around.

Pecan Sables
(original recipe Gourmet November 2002)

Ingredients
3/4 cup pecans (3 oz), toasted and cooled, plus about 32 pecan halves (3 oz)
2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg, separated

Special equipment: a 2-inch round cookie cutter

Preparation
Preheat oven to 325°F.

Pulse toasted pecans with 2 tablespoons confectioners sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl.

Beat together butter, remaining 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolk and beat well. Add flour and ground-pecan mixture and mix at low speed until just combined, 30 seconds to 1 minute. (Dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed.)

Halve dough and roll out 1 half between 2 sheets of wax paper until 1/4 inch thick (about a 9-inch round). Cut out as many rounds as possible with cookie cutter and arrange about 2 inches apart on buttered large baking sheets, reserving scraps. Roll out and cut remaining dough in same manner. Gather scraps, then reroll and cut in same manner.

Beat egg white until frothy, then brush tops of rounds lightly with egg white. Put a pecan half on top of each round, then brush pecan lightly with egg white.

Bake cookies in middle of oven until tops are pale golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 2 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

Cookies Day 5: Chocolate Peanut Toffee

Every time I plan on going for a 10 mile run, something seems to come up. Rain, cold, hangovers. Today it was snow. Wet, heavy, mushy, yucky snow. It’s also cold, but that doesn’t bother me as much as being wet AND cold.

So I didn’t really feel obligated to get myself going early this morning, or do anything at all, really. As I type this, I’m mentally preparing myself to go to the gym, but it’s been a pretty lazy Saturday up to this point.

Flipping through recipes in my now daily quest to find a cookie to bake, I came upon this chocolate peanut toffee recipe. Other than cutting some things up and boiling some other things, there’s not much to this recipe. It also doesn’t require any baking, which means I got to keep my oven turned off for at least a day.

One of the best things about this toffee is the simplicity of the ingredients, allowing for a pure, sharp contrast between the deepness of the chocolate and the bite of the salt. It’s reminiscent of the now ubiquitous salted caramel, but with chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Toffee
(original recipe Gourmet December 2007)

Ingredients
4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups whole cocktail peanuts plus 1 cup chopped (1 pound 10 ounces)
7 to 8 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Equipment: a 15- by 10- by 1-inch baking pan; a candy thermometer; a metal offset spatula

Preparation
Butter baking pan and put on a heatproof surface.

Bring butter, sugar, and salt to a boil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat, whisking until smooth, then boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden and registers 300°F (hard-crack stage; see Kitchen Notebook, page 240) on thermometer, 15 to 20 minutes.

Immediately stir in whole peanuts, then carefully pour hot toffee into center of baking pan. Spread with spatula, smoothing top, and let stand 1 minute, then immediately sprinkle chocolate on top. Let stand until chocolate is melted, 4 to 5 minutes, then spread over toffee with cleaned spatula. Sprinkle evenly with chopped peanuts, then freeze until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes. Break into pieces.

Dinner at Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Restaurant
2340 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007

A few months ago I wrote a blog post on the then-impending announcement that Barton Seaver, head chef of Blue Ridge Restaurant in Glover Park, would be named chef of the year by Esquire magazine. When the news hit the DC blogs, it brought a rash of both praise and criticism. The point of the article was this: based on early reviews of Blue Ridge, it seemed very unlikely that someone like Mr. Seaver would be named chef of the year. Sure, he’s got the notable sustainability movement going for him, but based on the food alone, there was a question floating around on whether or not he really deserved the award.

Even though Blue Ridge is in my neighborhood and only a few minutes walk down Wisconsin from my apartment, I was pretty apprehensive about visiting for the first time. The reviews were pretty damning (a pot pie was described as having a glue-like texture), and the prices didn’t justify a risky gamble. Would our dishes be worth the money, or would we be sorely disappointed, with the additional sting of being out of wasted money? I’ll admit it, I was scared, and I didn’t think the food would deliver. I wasn’t ready to give it a chance.

The night I found out that I would finally be working again (albeit in an unpaid position), I wanted to celebrate with a dinner out. Nothing fancy, and I didn’t need a full 3 course dinner, I just wanted to go out and have someone else cook me a meal, somewhere where I could sit down and have a beer or a glass of wine with dinner. Jay agreed after a little arm-twisting, on the condition that we stayed local. In other words, our neighborhood, no driving. This was a severe limitation on my choices, but still provided me with a decent selection. Just as I was turning over my options in my head, Jay suggested, “Why not Blue Ridge?”

Blue Ridge?

You mean the same place with the bad reviews? The place with the pricey and over-reaching menu? The place with the consistently bad service? The place whose chef’s achievements I had just questioned?

I was skeptical, I was nervous, but I really wanted to go out to dinner. Then Jay looked at the menu online, read off some of the selections, and then told me the average prices. Not only were the menu offerings appealing, but the prices were also much more reasonable than I remembered. Ok, let’s give it a shot.

The interior of Blue Ridge is decidedly simple, with quilts lining the walls under a blue ceiling and rustic, somewhat homemade-looking chandeliers serving as the light source. I can appreciate the easy casualness the restaurant is attempting to attain, but there’s something a little lacking. Although the tables and settings are fine, something about the interior decoration suggests an indifferent, amature effort. It almost works, but for me it doesn’t quite mesh.

Regardless of the wall coverings, our table was cozy and intimate. Soon after we sat down we were presented with a paper bag full of popcorn,  intensely salty with a hint of sweetness that we couldn’t quite identify. It’s also wildly addictive, with each bite spurning on more eating frenzy.

If you like plaid shirts and dark fingernail polish, you’ll love the waitresses’ outfits. The service was pleasant albeit slightly aloof, and I might have waited for my first beer for a while, but this is just me nit-picking. Our waitress warmed up a little as the night went on, and really there wasn’t anything major to complain about. One observation: I never saw a male server. I think the bartender may have been male, but the only staff I saw was female. Not sure if this is some sort of standard or just a fluke of the night.

For a first course, Jay and I split the fresh Rhappahannock oysters on the half shell. The only complaint I have with these oysters is that I had to do the work of separating them from their shells, an unpleasant surprise when I tried to eat my first oyster and only the house-made sauce slid into my mouth, leaving the oyster securely teathered to the shell.  On the good side, the oysters themselves were extraordinarily fresh, like bursts of clean water in my mouth. I personally prefer salt-water oysters because of their briney-ness, but these were clean, simple, and without a hint of unpleasantness. I could probably eat a whole bucket-full of them (and will definitely be visiting Blue Ridge’s oyster happy hour sometime).

Second course for me was the grass-fed burger with garlic fries. I was a little disappointed that grass-fed steak that appeared on the online menu wasn’t listed on our menu, but I wasn’t going to let my red-meat craving go unsatisfied. Cooked to order (medium rare please), with juice dripping down my hands and covering my face, the burger was surprisingly light and clean tasting, with that wondeful flavor that comes with grass-fed beef. And don’t even get me started on the fries. They’re so garlicy, salty, not at all greasy … the flavor is so intense that ketchup almost detracts from it.

Jay ordered the rustic pork meatloaf with smokey tomato sauce and garlic-yogurt potatoes. The menu sure didn’t lie when it labeled the tomato sauce as smokey, and it infused the already flavorful meatloaf with its deepness.

Even though we intended to escape Blue Ridge without ordereing dessert–we had cookies waiting for us at home and more on the way–we just couldn’t go without at least looking at the dessert menu … a fatal mistake that always leads to ordering. The rootbeer floats and cream soda floats were very enticing, reminding me of hot summer days by the pool at my parents house when I was a child, and the honeycrisp apple tart caught my eye, but the new jersey blueberry cobler was what I couldn’t go without. It’s more of a crisp than a cobler considering there’s not any cobler dough, but the deep, intense, clove-rich flavor is enough to make you forget or care about any difference. I recommend topping it with a scoop of lush vanilla and spreading the ice cream over the top to help cool down the cobler.

All in all, I was very impressed with Blue Ridge. Surprisingly so. I had set the bar so low and had expected such a disappointment that I couldn’t help but like the clean, focused presentations. After dinner I went through some of the bad reviews from the early days of the restaurant and noticed that Jay and I didn’t order any of the “bad” dishes. I don’t know whether we were just lucky or if the food was just honestly good, but I’m leaning toward the latter. Cooked to order, fresh, local ingredients prepared with a focus that likely develops out of learning from your mistakes, the food at Blue Ridge was a far cry from the expectations of over-worked, over-imagined, and ill-conceived dishes I had been prepared for. Jay and I both loved our meals, and we’re adding Blue Ridge to one of those solid go-to spots on our list of restaurants. I’m happy that Blue Ridge is within walkign distance from my apartment and that a local restaurant is receiving good press nowadays. Although I hold by my original skepticism, well-founded in early reviews, I have a feeling there has been a change in Blue Ridge since its opening, one for the better.

Cookies Day 4: Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies

It’s hard to follow up such an exciting day as yesterday. Today I woke up with an unhappy stomach, likely from too much sugar, and didn’t even want a cookie until after I spent around 3 hours in the gym. Then I had 2 Mexican cookies, eventually had a peppermint patty, and some beers. Someday I’ll find a middle ground.

Anyway, there’s not much of an intro to these cookies, other than I saw them and wanted to make them. I did learn the lesson of overcooking from these cookies, however. I probably should have learned it after day 1 when my molasses cookies came out a little hard, but the differences between 12 minutes and 15-18 minutes of cooking became apparant with these cookies. There’s no way to sugar coat it, my oven is shit. It’s never on the temperature I set it to, which means I have to turn the temp up about 50 degrees over the intended temp and stare at a foggy oven thermometer with my fingers crossed, hoping that the resulting temp will be somewhat close to what I want. With this in mind, and remembering how flat the molasses crinkles cooked, I was expecting these cookies to flatten out as well, so I kept them in the oven for a little longer to see if they would change. Regardless of the extra time, the cookies retained the shape of little round pillows. The result: the first batch was a little harder than I would like. The center is chewy like it is supposed to be, but less chewy than I would like, with a little too much crunch around the edges. The second batch, which I cooked for 12 minutes, came out much better, with a larger chewy center. I’m learning that I think I would rather have an undercooked cookie than an overcooked cookie. Even though hard cookies are fun to dunk in milk, there’s just something about a chewy cookie that hits me where I like.

These cookies requires a little more steps than your very basic recipe but were still easy to make. As happens with every recipe I’ve made recently, I misread something and did something wrong, freezing the dough instead of chilling it for a few hours, but this mistake was negligible in the end, I think. The hazelnut flavor of the cookies is subtle, with most of the flavor coming from the chocolate, but it’s not completely overpowered. The contrast between the dark chocolate and the powdered sugar is nice, and the small size of the cookies makes them easy to eat, which could be a bad thing. I highly recommend these, and hopefully you have a digital temperature guage on your oven, unlike mine.

Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies
(original recipe Gourmet December 2006)

Ingredients
2/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners sugar

Special equipment: parchment paper

Preparation
Make dough:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan in oven until skins split and nuts are pale golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven (turn oven off), then wrap hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove any loose skins. Cool nuts completely. Pulse nuts with granulated sugar in a food processor until finely chopped.

Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in melted chocolate until combined. Add milk and vanilla, beating to incorporate. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in nut mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough until firm, 2 to 3 hours.

Form and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl. Halve dough and chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll remaining half into 1-inch balls, placing them on a sheet of wax paper as rolled. Roll balls, 3 or 4 at a time, in confectioners sugar to coat generously and arrange 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.

Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges feel dry (but centers are still slightly soft), 12 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies (still on parchment) to racks to cool completely.

While first batch is baking, roll remaining dough into balls. Line cooled cookie sheets with fresh parchment, then coat balls with confectioners sugar and bake in same manner.

Cookies Day 3: Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes

Today was a big day today. Today, I got a job.

A job.

The only thing that would make it more perfect: if I was getting paid.

So yes, I have an unpaid internship, but it is a job. It gets me out of the apartment, gets my mind working again, AND it’s doing something I love. I get to rewrite books published for professionals and students, draft online magazine articles, possibly publish under my own name, and all in the tax field. Specifically, partnership tax, nonprofit and tax exempt organizations, and estate planning for wealthy individuals.

And guess where I get to work? The Watergate Complex. Personally, I think that’s pretty cool.

If you are just happening across this blog, you don’t know the immense struggle I have been facing since earlier this spring in trying to find a job. Tax attorneys seem to be a luxury item in a time of severe economic downturn, and I have been fighting to find a job since even before graduating with my tax masters from Georgetown. There have been some dark, deep, scary days where making it out of the apartment was reason enough to be happy, where laughing once in a while was a huge step. Now, even though I won’t be receiving a paycheck for my work, at least I will be living a normal-ish life, waking up in the morning instead of past noon, making myself go somewhere else to get a job done, and using my legal mind. Regardless of payment, the self-fulfillment is sustenance enough for now.

Ever ready to put myself into a celebretory mood these days, today I gave myself over to just that: celebrating. This generally means eating whatever I want, drinking however much I want, and working out as little as possible. I did a lot of eating, a good amount of drinking, and absolutely no working out (unless you count the walk back from the Watergate, which took about 45 minutes), so it was a pretty full day.

All this celebration and eating did not cause me to stop baking cookies, however. Oh no. Only something much greater and much more epic than an abnormally full tummy will be able to deter me from my cookie-baking quest. In fact, the reason for the celebration gave me inspiration to look for a cookie that was a little more special than the rest, one that stood out above the crowd. Sure, this is only day 3, but you can only change the cookie so much before you start to see common themes, and this becomes apparant just by looking through the recipes. One cookie that stood out and pronounced “celebration” more than the others, both in finished product and in name, was this one, the Mexican wedding cake.

So far, this has been my favorite cookie to make. Easy to prepare, short cooking time, and you get to use your hands to mould the cookies. Plus, it tastes really freakin awesome. The dough of the cookies never actually came together until I pressed it between my palm and fingers, creating a football shaped pillow out of loosely held-together crumbs. This gave the cookies a heavenly light texture that absolutely dissolves once it hits your tongue, a sensation further enhanced by the thick coating of powdered sugar. The lightness of the cookies is further bolstered by the salty pistachios and the chewy tart cherries, which work together to create a contrasting symphony of textures and flavors.

Paired with a bottle of bubbly I picked up on a celebretory whim today, these cookies were definitely worth celebrating with.

Pistachio and Cherry Mexican Wedding Cakes
(original recipe Bon Appetit December 2006)

Ingredients
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar plus more for coating
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shelled unsalted natural pistachios (about 4 ounces), chopped
1 cup dried tart cherries or dried cranberries
3 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 2/3 cups sifted all purpose flour

Preparation
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 3 heavy large baking sheets. Using electric mixer, beat 2 cups butter and 1 cup powdered sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and salt, then pistachios and cherries. Using spatula, stir in all flour (do not overmix dough).

Shape dough by generous tablespoonfuls into football-shaped ovals. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until bottoms just begin to color, about 16 minutes. Cool cookies on sheets 10 minutes before coating.

Pour generous amount of powdered sugar into medium bowl. Working with 5 or 6 warm cookies at a time, add cookies to bowl of sugar; gently turn to coat thickly. Transfer cookies to sheet of waxed paper. Repeat to coat cookies with sugar again; cool completely. do ahead Can be made 4 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Cookie Day 2: Peppermint Patties

For the second day of my Twenty-ish Days of Christmas Cookies, I went off the beaten path and chose a recipe that was not listed on epicurious.com’s 25 Days of Christmas Cookies. Digging through the old food magazines, I found an apparantly simple recipe for peppermint patties. Another appealing factor: the only additional ingredients I needed to purchase were peppermint extract and 10 oz. of bittersweet chocolate. Not too many ingredients, this should be easy and quick like the last cookie recipe, right?

The preparation started off simple enough, and maybe that simplicity led me into a false confidence. When I started to knead the filling of the cookies, I couldn’t help but notice that it was extremely brittle, barely sticking together and crumbling at the slightest pressure. I started to wonder, did I beat this too long? Did I make it too hard? Given that this was my first attempt of the recipe, I had no standard for comparison, so I pressed on, trying to quiet the doubts lingering at the back of my mind.

The brittleness of the filling only became more apparant when I started cutting it into small rounds. Although the thicker parts of the filling emerged from the cutting unharmed, the thinner-rolled parts cracked under the pressure of the cutter. I tried to meld the broken pieces back together and hoped that they would hold, but the broken pieces failed to hold together when dipped in the chocolate.

The chocolate. Oh, the chocolate. Although I had glanced at the recipe preparation before baking and knew that I would have to temper the chocolate, I didn’t anticipate how much time the tempering would actually take. After initially melting the chocolate, I waited, and waited, and waited for the temperature to reach 80 degrees, but it just felt like it would never get there. In impatient frustration, I threw the bowl of chocolate into the fridge for 5 minutes, something I knew I shouldn’t do but that I couldn’t help. The temp got down to exactly 80, but it now had a thin film, and I still had to re-boil the water. You can see where this is going. By the time the water was boiling, the temp of the chocolate was below 80, and I had to re-melt the film that had formed on the top of the chocolate.  After all that effort, I didn’t even have enough chocolate for all of the peppermint fillings. I had a couple of ounces left of one bar, so I just melted it quickly without tempering it and covered the rest of the fillings. In the end, everything was put together, but it was not without some frustration and missteps.

So how to the cookies taste? Amazing. Incredible. Melt in your mouth candy sweetness. Jay commented that the finished product was more like candy than a cookie, and it doesn’t take long for you to reach your limit. They taste exactly like the regular peppermint patties, but better, with the subtle added quality of good, fresh ingredients. Maybe the added taste comes from the love and effort required to pull off the finished product.

These cookies really do taste wonderful, but part of me wonders whether or not they are worth the effort. Before abandoning the recipe forever and swearing them off as not worth it, I think I will give this recipe another go, tweak my preparation style a little bit, and learn to be a little more patient.

Peppermint Patties
(original recipe Gourmet December 2007)
NOTE that the recipe calls them candies, not cookies!

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups confectioners sugar (less than 1 pound), divided
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 tablespoon vegetable shortening (preferably trans-fat-free)
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Equipment: a 1-inch round cookie cutter; a digital instant-read thermometer

Preparation
Make filling:
Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (less than 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.

Temper chocolate and coat filling:
Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet (to make decorative ridges on patty, immediately set bottom of fork briefly on top of patty, then lift fork straight up). Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.


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