Monday, December 15, 2008

Peppermint Pigs

Ok. So this might be the most discombobulated post here yet. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There were these cookies, in my childhood, you see. Called Peppermint Pigs by those in the know, although I am not sure who in my family this includes. I may or may not have ever even eaten one of these Pigs. My brain wants to say that they showed up at my Uncle Mikey’s farm for a celebration, but I would have been too little for the remembering of eating things out there, although wouldn’t it be just like me to have a first memory about a cookie? Yes. Either through lore or the eating of one of these cookies I believe them to be a chocolate sandwich cookie filled with minty icing. I have bothered my mother about this recipe in the past, to no avail. Since I don’t really remember eating one, I think it’s quite possible that I just fell head over heels in love with the idea that a cookie earned the name Peppermint Pig. I have my suspicions that the name was generated by my family to indicate that they were so scrumptious that one would be inclined to make a pig of one’s self.

Ok. Enter in my collection of cookie recipes that either involve a chocolate wafer-like cookie (either roll-out or chilled log style) or a mint icing. It’s huge. On Saturday, when for some reason after years – years, mind you, over a decade even – of thinking about giving one of these recipes a whirl I finally went for it, I counted 17 different recipes, again without counting cookbooks. Jesus. So. I spent a moment thinking about what this cookie should be like. One: the chocolate cookie part should be thin, very chocolaty, and not very sweet. And two: the icing should be extremely minty and not at all gritty. I hate gritty icing. I am the kid who will eat your cake and leave you a neat shell of icing, nine times out of ten (my Gran’s baking aside, mind you, ooh, her Chocolate Raspberry cake will knock your socks off). So I went with a roll-out dough that used very little sugar and a ton of cocoa. And an icing recipe that called for cream cheese, which seems to not only cut down on the grit but, I don’t know, add some heft to the whole affair.

And woo-wee people, I just got lucky. These might have just surpassed the Rugelach as the holiday cookie of the year, at least according to my husband. They are time consuming, like any roll-out cookie, but oh so worth it (plus I just inherited my mother’s vintage cookie cutter collection that I used as a child – how I love those shapes). Creamy, minty filling between two deep, dark, barely sweetened cookies – you will put it in your mouth, exclaim how rich! How scrumptious! How intense! How could I possibly eat another? In about two minutes you will find out just how. And thus, whether even remotely close to the original or not, these are now my Peppermint Pigs.

Note: next time I would double the dough recipe; this really doesn’t make very many cookies. But then again, perhaps that’s for the best.

Peppermint Pigs
From too many recipes to count

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus two tablespoons all-purpose flour
Confectioner’s sugar, for rolling out dough

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy and smooth. Add egg and mix until well combined.

Sift together flour and cocoa.

Add flour-cocoa mixture, mix until combined. Dough will be stiff and hard to work with. Divide into two discs, refrigerate until chilled, at least one hour.

Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Lightly sprinkle a smattering of confectioner’s sugar on a cool surface, and roll one disc of dough out to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes as desired, return scraps to refrigerator for re-chilling.

Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until the fragrance of chocolate is driving everyone in the house mad. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat until dough is all baked.

8 tablespoons (4 ounces) of cream cheese, room temperature
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon mint extract, more to taste (I added more)

In a food processor, combine cream cheese and butter until smooth. Slowly add confectioner’s sugar until smooth, then the mint extract and vanilla. Taste, adjust.

Once cookies are cooled, ice away, into sandwiches or whatever the heck is cheeriest to you. Make a pig of yourself, it’s Christmas.


dig this chick said...

Oh those look divine! Peppermint Pigs. Love the name. Love your enthusiasm and confidence in the kitchen. Your cooking intuition and creativity are inspiring.

ps miss your comments. I'm just sayin'.

Heather said...

Doh! Busted! I am still a faithful reader, in fact, just before getting this comment I was reading, teary eyed through your latest Bug post. So. Stinkin'. Cute. I will mend my lurky ways...!

rachel said...

can we make these, please??? i am dying.

Heather said...

Hell yes!!! Trust me, this batch it LONG gone and I have so much Pig left in me! Can't wait.

queenbeehoney said...

OK, the true story of Peppermint Pigs: Once upon a time, a plucky young woman had a baby named Heather Cinnamon. Her sister Cindy came for the homebirth and stayed for two weeks afterwards (good thing, since Dad hit the road immediately after the birth and didn't show up for another three weeks). While we were hangin with the new baby, trying to figure out why she cried (many theories, all blown away almost immediately), we made the first batch of PP's. (No wonder you like them ~ they're the cookie of your birth!) After that, I made a batch every Christmas for years and years for my sister for Christmas. That's my version, now you must ask Cynthia (she changed her name in the ensuing 32 years) for her recollection. I should send you the original recipe.

judith said...

aw this is so great. thanks ms H. the solstice shild is being home day after tomorrow & i SO plan/hope/wish to do some of your cookies with her. love every crumb of you.

queenbeehoney said...

I love seeing those tiny little cookies on the baking sheet!