I'm due for a vegetable or main course or something that balances all the cookies you might already be eating this holiday season. BUT! Last weekend, I had the most incredible "foodie" weekend that I've had in months and that weekend included these cookies.
I just had to share. We'll get to those.
The husband and I went on a bit of a "restaurant freeze" when we got back from France in late September. I really don't recommend it. So when he offered to take me to dinner on Friday night at Cafe Juanita to celebrate my new job and moving to our new area, I more than jumped at an opportunity to put on a cute dress and have an evening out. Nevermind the beans soaking on the countertop for dinner. Those could wait.
We promised ourselves that we'd each just get a glass of wine and an entree and call it good. Those thoughts flew out the window when our server brought us a glass of complimentary Prosecco to welcome us. Good times were already flowing. The night was young and the table was ours.
Then! My cookbook club met over the weekend. The group is brilliant and diverse and fabulous. Here's how it works: After choosing a cookbook to cook from, we each prepare a dish from the book and bring it to share. We try to focus on choosing seasonal recipes and using local ingredients as much as possible. Foodies cooking and coming together to eat and talk about food? I cannot think of a better way to spend my time. This month, our choice was "In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite" by Melissa Clark. She writes a food column called "A Good Appetite" in The New York Times.
Everything everyone made was fabulous. I made her Rich and Nutty Brown Butter Cornbread in my cast iron skillet using local corn that was frozen and saved for the winter. I love the stories the author tells before each recipe and how she often uses yogurt for baking, as I like to do. Balances the brown butter quite nicely, don't ya think?
And then! I went to a holiday cookie exchange party. I didn't have time to come up with something fancy with all that's been going on with the move, so on the day of the party, I simply decided to whip up a batch of my mom's chocolate chip cookies.
(Wrote down this coveted recipe in my best handwriting in 1996 when I was almost 12 years old.)
But, I pretended to be super creative with the cookies I brought by throwing a chopped up Theo Peppermint Stick chocolate bar into the mix. Genius, I tell you. I love a good gingerbread or frosted Christmas tree, but I think these are my favorite Christmas cookies to date. You just can't go wrong with chocolate chip cookies. Especially pepperminty ones.
I wanted to keep these cookies pretty classic. They do have some whole-wheat pastry flour, but I didn't go over the top with trying to "healthify" them. Sometimes I put quinoa in my cookies and sometimes I bake with browned butter. Either way, when it comes to desserts, I like to focus on using really good quality ingredients and truly savoring each delectable bite. Good quality, to me, means ingredients that have been grown and harvested in pure, responsible, and sustainable ways. Here, I strived to use ingredients that are organic, local if possible/fair trade if not, and haven't been messed with too much. Ingredients that haven't been messed with too much always taste the best.
If you aren't able to find Theo chocolate where you live, you can certainly toss in some other peppermint chocolate here. Or try another holiday flavor. I have plans to make these with some spiced gingerbread chocolate or toasted coconut.
What foodie experiences have you stumbled upon lately?
theo peppermint stick chocolate chunk cookies // makes about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup pure cane sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 3-oz Theo Organic + Fair Trade Peppermint Stick chocolate bar, chopped into small chunks
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine whole-wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine softened butter, pure cane sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat with a mixer until creamy. Add eggs and beat again. With mixer running, slowly add flour mixture. Once incorporated, add chocolate and stir to combine. Drop batter by the spoonful onto prepared trays. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until nicely browned around the edges. Cool on a wire rack.