When I was a kid, there was no Christmas cookie I didn’t like. Rainbow Cookies and those Peanut Butter Blossoms with the Hershey’s Kiss in the middle were my favorites, and I would ruin the most joyful day of the year for the rest of my family by eating them all. I could do without dry, sprinkled butter cookies, but even those I would scarf down if there was nothing else to be had—such is my dedication to sugar. Now I am old and vegan, though, so I’ve had to reinvent the wheel a bit. The favored Italian bakeries of my youth no longer cater to me, and I am left to toil and ponder whether a life without cannoli is any life at all.
Over the last few years, I’ve hit the cookbooks and come up with my own traditions. Not-too-sweet and super-adaptable shortbreads are my favorite. With just a bit of extract, or the addition of cocoa, or subbing some molasses in for sugar, you can get a wide range of cookies (that can also act as great tart shells) without too much fuss; you can then give them a swirl of buttercream, a dip of ganache, or decorate with royal icing. The shortbread is whatever you want it to be. Today, I want it to be a chocolate cookie dipped in mint-kissed ganache (a flawless base recipe ripped straight from Vegan Pie in the Sky, which you should buy!), then sprinkled with crushed candy cane.
Depending on your cutters and how thick you roll out the dough (and I suggest going a bit on the thicker side), you’ll get between 18 and 24 cookies out of this recipe. The ganache recipe provides more than enough for dipping, so you can choose to frost the cookies or make little sandwiches. You can also chill leftover ganache and roll it into truffles for an extra treat. If you really, really love mint, you can also add a ¼ teaspoon of peppermint extract to the cookies with the vanilla—but I suggest keeping it minimal so no one feels like they’re eating toothpaste. No one likes eating toothpaste. It’s gross.
I also highly recommend using a scale for baking. It makes cleaning up much easier!
Ingredients (for the cookies):
- 7 ounces of coconut butter (directions below)
- 106 grams organic sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 225 grams flour
- 75 grams fair-trade cocoa powder
- Candy canes (for garnish)
Ingredients (for the ganache):
- 8 ounces of chopped fair-trade chocolate (at least 60% cacao)
- 190 grams (¾ cup) coconut milk
- 25 grams (2 tablespoons) refined coconut oil
- 30 grams (2 tablespoons) water
- ¼ teaspoon peppermint extract
- To make the butter, put 8 ounces of refined coconut oil and 2 ounces of coconut milk in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then chill until solid all the way through. You will have some extra leftover, so measure again before adding to the stand mixer.
- In a medium-size bowl, measure out the cocoa powder by pushing it through a sieve or sifter to get out any lumps. Measure the flour into the same bowl as the cocoa powder, then whisk to combine them well.
- Add the chilled butter to the stand mixer bowl, fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream the butter until it’s nice and smooth, then add the sugar and vanilla extract. Blend until all are combined.
- Add the dry cocoa and flour mixture to the stand mixer in three parts, pulsing so that it doesn’t fly into your face. Blend until the dough creates a ball around the paddle.
- Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, formed in a flat disc about a ½ inch thick and put in the fridge. Chill for at least an hour.
While the dough chills, make the ganache.
- Put the coconut milk, oil, and water in a small saucepan. Add the chopped chocolate to a bowl.
- Whisk the wet ingredients over medium heat until it comes to a boil, then immediately pour it over the chocolate. Cover the bowl with a plate for about 5 minutes.
- When 5 minutes have passed, remove the plate and whisk until a thick ganache is formed and all chocolate is blended in. Put this in the fridge to chill.
While the ganache chills, bake the cookies.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place parchment paper on two cookie sheets.
- Put the dough between two sheets of parchment and roll out to your desired thickness, then cut and place on the cookie sheet.
- Bake one sheet at a time in the oven, setting a timer for 6 minutes, rotating the sheet, and then baking for another 6 minutes.
- As the cookies cool, remove the ganache from the refrigerator. When the cookies are cooled, frost or dip them in the ganache then sprinkle with crushed candy cane.