The third recipe in my healthier holiday cookie series are these Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies! Incredibly delicious, fudgy, chewy, and deeply chocolatey cookies topped with crushed candy canes make the perfect holiday cookies that are fun and festive, but still made better-for-you. They are super easy to make and require no chilling, so you can go from empty mixing bowl to festive cookie-filled-cooling rack in just under 30 minutes!
What Do These Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies Taste Like?
I don’t mean to be overdramatic, but, there may not actually be words to describe how insanely delicious the texture of these cookies are in real life. But I will do my absolute best to try to appropriately describe them. Imagine a thick and dense cookie, with a perfectly crispy exterior, the interior is soft, chewy, deeply chocolatey and studded with ooey gooey chocolate chips. Similar to a rich fudgy brownie in cookie form. And topped with candy candy pieces for the perfectly festive combination of chocolate and peppermint that is always a hit during the holiday season. They are rich without feeling overindulgent, they are luxurious without feeling pretentious, and they decadent while in actuality made healthier! They are just perfect. Hopefully I have done a decent job describing these cookies and therefore making your mouth water. And if not, this bite shot should do it.
These healthier Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies are oh-so-craveable while still being better-for-you! The cookie dough contains no refined sugars, flours, or oils. They are also paleo-ish meaning they are made without gluten, grain, or dairy. I categorize these as being “paleo-ish” because they are topped with candy cane or peppermint candy pieces which are typically made with refined sugar, so they are not strictly paleo. I found some candy canes from Whole Foods that are made with organic cane sugar which is a less refined version of conventional sugar and also happened to be dye free!
Here’s a look at the ingredients and some potential variations:
- Coconut Sugar – The best refined sugar free granular sweetener. Coconut sugar gives them the perfect amount of sweetness without being overbearing.
- Tahini – I love using tahini as the base fat in my cookies. It gives cookies the perfect dense and chewy texture while keeping the cookies nut free. Feel free to sub for any other nut/seed butter you prefer. Ideally use one that is thin and drippy and contains only one ingredient. Some good subs are cashew butter, almond butter, or sunflower seed butter.
- Avocado Oil – The avocado oil gives the cookies added moisture without making the dough too sticky. It also helps crisp the exteriors of the cookies. Sub for olive oil or melted and cooled coconut oil.
- Egg – Helps puff the cookies! As there is only 1 egg used in this recipe along with another leavener, I feel safe in saying that this cookie can likely (I have not tested this) be made vegan by substituting the egg with a vegan egg replacer.
- Cocoa Powder – A hefty dose of cocoa powder in the dough makes these cookies wonderfully chocolatey. Use an unsweetened, high quality, cocoa powder. Do not use cacao powder or cocoa powder mix, these are totally different things and will affect the outcome of the cookies greatly. Some good brands are Equal Exchange’s Baking Cocoa, Guittard’s Cocoa Powder, or Whole Food’s 365 Brand (what I used).
- Cassava Flour – A gluten, grain free, and nut free flour that is similar in texture and density to conventional white flour but is not processed or bleached! I find the best pricing to be on Amazon.
- Tapioca Flour – Thickens the dough without making it too floury.
- Baking Soda – The leavener in this cookie dough.
- Salt – To balance the sweetness.
- Chocolate Chips – Use your favorite chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate bar! I usually go for Enjoy Life’s baking chips but have recently become obsessed with Guittard’s Bittersweet Chocolate Chips which are also dairy free and made with cane sugar. However I find the quality of the Guittard chocolate to be superior.
- Candy Canes – Ideally use, mini candy canes crushed into small shards. You want to keep the pieces small but not crushed to a dust. You can use regular sized candy canes if that’s what you have on-hand and they will still taste the same as the mini candy cane pieces, however aesthetically, you are more likely to see the red and white striping when you use the mini candies. You can also use regular peppermint candies.
What Is The Best Way To Crush Candy Canes?
I find the easiest way to crush the candy is to place them in a plastic bag, cover the bag with a kitchen towel, and use a rolling pin or meat tenderize to smash them up. It only takes a few hits to break up the mini candy canes. You want to get small shards or chunks and not all dust.
These are super easy and festive cookies perfect for the holiday season. The dough whips up quick, is made with only 12 total ingredients, and can be done in under 30 minutes! Here’s a look at the steps.
- Crush the candy canes. See above for the easiest method.
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
- Mix the wet ingredients together.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Scoop the dough. I use my trusty 50 mm scoop (about 3 tablespoons) for ease and making equally sized cookies.
- Press the top of each cookie dough ball into the candy cane pieces. This is the easier method, but I give a second option below for adding the candy cane pieces after the cookies are baked.
- Bake for just about 10 minutes.
- Let cool slightly.
Make Ahead: The dough or cookie dough balls can be made a day or two in advance and stored, covered, in the fridge. Press the candy cane pieces into the tops of the cookie dough just before baking. Add another minute or two onto the baking time if the dough has chilled for more than 2 hours.
You can add the candy cane pieces to the tops of the cookies in two ways. One before baking and one after baking the cookies. Either way will yield delicious peppermint and chocolate cookies, one is easier while the other requires a few more steps but is more aesthetically pleasing, in my opinion.
- Easier Way – The first way, that I give in the recipe below, is the easier way. The candy cane pieces are pressed into the tops of each cookie dough ball and baked together. The above cookies are made using this method.
- Prettier Way – The second way, is to bake the cookies, then drizzle some melted chocolate over the slightly cooled cookies, and sprinkle the candy cane pieces over the melted chocolate. When the drizzled chocolate sets it adheres the candy pieces onto the cookies. The below cookies are made using this method. I found that baking the candy canes with the cookies dulled the red striping color from the candy canes which took a little fun from the appearance of the cookie. This may also be because I used naturally dyed candy canes.
These cookies are the perfect simple but delicious dessert to enjoy a festive holiday season. They are a fun way to treat yourself or as a yummy healthier dessert to gift your favorite dessert loving people. These are so good they are sure to be enjoyed but all and disappear in a flash! Basically, these are the perfect healthier holiday cookie and I can’t wait for you to try them.
paleo-ish (gluten/grain/dairy free), naturally sweetened, nut free
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Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
Incredibly delicious, fudgy, chewy, and deeply chocolatey cookies topped with crushed candy canes for the perfect holiday cookie that are fun, festive, but still made better-for-you!
paleo-ish (gluten free, grain free, dairy free) & nut-free
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (31 grams) not cacao powder or cocoa mix
- 1/4 cup cassava flour (36 grams)
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour (30 grams)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 cup coconut sugar (114 grams)
- 1/4 cup tahini (65 grams) sub other thin & drippy nut/seed butter
- 1/4 cup avocado oil (61 grams) sub coconut oil, melted and cooled
- 1 egg large
- 1 tsp vanilla (4 grams)
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips (126 grams)
- 1/4 cup crushed mini candy canes or peppermint candies
Heat oven to 360 degrees (yes, 360) and prepare baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
In a medium bowl whisk together all the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, whisk together the wet ingredients until thick and well incorporated.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add in the dry ingredients and stir until just mixed, scraping down the sides of the bowl once more during mixing to ensure ingredients are well distributed without overmixing.
Stir the chocolate chips into the dough.
Place the crushed candy canes in a small bowl. Using a cookie scoop, ideally a 50 mm (about 3 tbsp), scoop balls of dough and press the top of each ball into the bowl adhering candy pieces into dough. (See notes below on candy addition options.)
Place candy cane topped cookie dough balls at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.
Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes or until cookies are set in the middle and edges are starting to turn a darker brown.
Let cookies cool on baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
Store at room temperature in an airtight container for 2-3 day. Then move to freezer for longer storage.
Candy Cane Addition Options:
Easier Way - Do as listed above.
Prettier Way - Bake the cookies without the candy cane pieces. Melt some chocolate while cookies cool slightly. Drizzle melted chocolate over the cookies, then sprinkle with candy cane pieces. When the drizzled chocolate sets it adheres the candy pieces onto the cookies.
Make Ahead: The dough or cookie dough balls can be made a day or two in advance and stored, covered in the fridge. Press the candy cane pieces into the tops of the cookie dough just before baking. Add another minute or two onto the baking time if the dough has chilled for more than 2 hours.
Storage: Store cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for a day or so. Afterwards move to the freezer for longer storage.
Tahini - The tahini should be thin and drippy. Sub tahini for any other single ingredient nut/seed butter that is thin and drippy, like a natural almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butter that has a good amount of oil at the top. For best results, be sure to mix the nut/seed butter in the jar well before measuring. Do not use the compacted paste at the bottom of the jar. My favorite tahini for baking is the 365 brand from Whole Foods.
Candy Canes - I find the easiest way to crush the candy is to place them a bag, cover the bag with a towel, and use a rolling pin to smash them up. It only takes a few hits to break up the mini candy canes. You want to get small shards or chunks and not all dust. I used Organic Candy Canes from Whole Foods which were vegan and naturally dyed! Use 2-3 regular sized candy canes or several peppermint candies instead of mini candy canes.
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