Monday, December 5, 2011

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies / Vivaldi's "Winter"

The holidays bring all kinds of sweet temptations to our neighborhood Trader Joe's. One of my favorites is their Peppermint Bark. While grocery shopping last week, I wondered what the creamy, minty stuff would do when added to my favorite chocolate cookie recipe.

My husband's response to these cookies - and I humbly quote - was this:


{Pre-baked balls of amazement, indeed}
These cookies are truly dangerous fresh out of the oven. I made 18 last night, and by my last count, I believe only 5 are left.

Chocolate Peppermint Bark Cookies

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) room-temperature unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 pouch Trader Joe's peppermint bark, bashed into large and crumbly chunks (should yield 1 cup)
Maldon sea salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. (If you have a convection oven, these turn out beautifully: preheat to 325 degrees instead.)

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugars. Mix in the egg until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract, salt, and baking soda. Slowly add in the cocoa powder on low speed until fully incorporated. Do the same for the flour. When all traces of flour are gone, add in the peppermint bark. 

Spoon the dough onto a prepared cookie sheet. Press a few more chunks of peppermint bark into the tops of the cookies. Sprinkle with Maldon salt if desired (YES). 

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Allow to cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks for further cooling. 

Note: due to the obscene proportion of peppermint bark to cookie, these will need to cool for several minutes before you can eat them all in one piece. But best not to wait too long: they are absurdly good when the chunks are still somewhat melted.

{Warm and gooey with a cold glass of milk, even Poochini can't resist}

For a musical pairing, enjoy a part of "Winter" from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." The poem that accompanies this movement reads:

Before the fire to pass peaceful
Contented days while the rain outside pours down. 

Most violinists agree that the orchestra plucking their strings represents raindrops falling, and the solo violin represents the individual staying cozy indoors. I love Giardino Armonico's interpretation because the orchestra sounds so gently percussive and rain-like, while the solo line sounds so sweet and warm. 

Here in Los Angeles this past weekend, we were subjected to not rain but rather severely strong winds that left many friends and family members without power or hot water for several days. Amazingly, my neighborhood was unaffected. Hoping that you all are able to enjoy the comforts and flavors of home despite any inclement weather!


  1. these look so delicious and I love how your dog is peeking through one of the photos!

  2. and your hubby is so right. these look freaking amaze balls!

  3. Maia, I grew up listening to The Four Seasons (my Mom still has the record album, I believe) and I loved the anticipation that "Winter" evoked. In Minnesota, I likened the pizzicato part to "fast snowflakes." :) Yesterday, in Oklahoma, it was rainy and drippy (even snowed for an hour!) and this was the perfect piece to listen to -- if only I had one of your cookies to go with my coffee! Loved the Poochini pic, too.

  4. Oh yum! They looked so tasty even pre-baked. I love peppermint bark but never imagined them in cookies. divine!

  5. OH. those look dangerous.


  6. Great ideas and good taste.

  7. Chocolate pepermint cookies...omg..I just DROOOLEd all over my keyboard! AMAZZZZZING! And look at your lil' puppy watching you drooling with me!
    They look BEYOND DELISH!
    xoThe Beckerman Girls

  8. These look so good, I love all of the pictures!

  9. This looks so delicious, I am seriously off to make these. Will report back! xx

  10. Oh my gosh, those look so amazing! I think I may have to try making them for my family this Christmas. I love the idea of tying up a stack with a little ribbon!

  11. Cara Maia, with my plectrum orchestra, we use to play Vivaldi very often and l'Inverno from Quattro Stagioni is one of the best performed. Anyway, all the works by Vivaldi are amazing performed by a mandolin ochestra and I really enjoy to play my part in the Winter (I play the mandoloncello). These cookies are amazingly beautiful in their rustic aspect. I can imagine how difficult shold be to resist them (the face of your little dog is telling everything). Un grande bacio, Pat

  12. Ah, my lovely, music and food, two excellent companions in winter. How is the lady? I suspect quite busy with concerts and so forth.
    Warmly hope you are enjoying the festive season. Love, B

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  14. For some reason, I really only crave the chocolate/mint combo around that weird? BTW what kind of dog do you have??

  15. Oh my goodness!! Those look amazing!!! I am going to have to try these soon.

    <3Chelsea Elizabeth