In the Cookie Jar

Chocolate Peppermint Nuggets and Lots of Other Insanity

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Okay.

I had a good chunk of this post completed and then I lost it.

Not good.

Not a good morning, actually, despite the lovely snow that fell.  Oh, and it's changing over to rain, so later this morning it's going to be a yucky, cold, slushy gross mess.  Winter wonderland, my…assssssssssssssthma.  Yeah, that's it.  Asthma.  Which…I don't really have.

Anyway. 

Grrr.

So here's these cookies, the ones you see in the picture above.

By all accounts, they're yummy.

I wouldn't know.  I haven't had one.  I'm giving up processed white stuff.  You know, things like flour and sugar.  Things I bake with all the time.  Yeah, I'm not eating it.  As of yesterday.  Actually, no, as of Sunday afternoon.

We're going skiing in February, and I, despite having lived somewhere or other in New England my whole entire crabby little life, I never learned to ski.  I can ice skate (or I could, once upon a time), but not ski.

Bill skiis.  The kids ski now.  So.  I'm.  Going.  To.  Take.  A.  Couple.  Of.  Lessons.  When.  We.  Go.  On.  Our.  Trip.

And it occurred to me the other day (that would be Sunday) that I don't want to be a clutzy, flabby ball of incompetence.  (Incompetence, not incontinence.  Just clarifying, in case you read that really fast.)

I know I'll be clutzy and incompetent.  I just would prefer not to be a flabby ball as I'm falling and crashing into the trees.  You know?  It would just help, mentally.  It would be like, "yeah, I'm falling and crashing into a tree, but hey, at least I'm being cool and athletic about it!"  Much better than "oh great, here I go, falling and rolling down the hill, accumulating snow all over my flabby ball of a self.  They're going to let the kids stick a carrot in my face and big sticks in my shoulders and call me Frosty after I bounce off this next tree."

So I started getting up early to exercise and I decided to just scrap the white stuff and alcohol, figuring that would be quickest and easiest to manage for the next couple months.

Yeah.

So that's why I haven't had one of those cookies.

And right about now, I could use one.  Or seventy.  Because I'm having a bit of a frantic morning in another part of my life, and it would be SO nice to just reheat my coffee and pour the container of these little chocolatey and pepperminty nuggets down my throat.  I just know it would make everything all better.

But I'm fighting that urge, people.  Fighting it.  Because I don't want to be a clutzy, flabby blob on the mountain.  Or the bunny slope.  Or just walking on the snow.  That's my motivation.

I really miss bread.

MY bread.  Bread I make.  Bread that is yummy.  Bread that is good.  Bread that is made from lovely, soft, all-purpose flour.  Pretty and fragrant and comforting all white bread.

As I typed that, I thought "comforting…comfort and joy" and isn't it just a huge laugh that I'm undertaking this complete and utter lifestyle and eatstyle change RIGHT NOW?  In DECEMBER?  THE OFFICIAL MONTH OF STARCH AND SUGAR CONSUMPTION?

I'm so good with the timing.

Anyway.  The cookies.

OH – and another thing.  (I am typing with superfast jittery fingers)  I thought I'd made these Chocolate Candy Canes last year, and I was frantically (FRANTICALLY!  DID I SPELL THAT CORRECTLY?????) looking through my poorly organized archives trying to find the post for those.  And then I took a look at the post where I took a picture of ALLLLLLLLLL the cookies I made last year, in all their containers on my dining room table.  And at the list that corresponds to all the little numbers I had attached to all the containers so I could itemize what I'd made.

And guess what.

I didn't make chocolate candy canes last year. 

Idiot.

Turns out I made them TWO years ago. 

And here's the post.  I finally found it.

Okay.

Well, I guess that's my idiot story of the morning.

So what I did this year, since I didn't want to make candy canes (the cookies are kind of fragile and tend to break at the crook of the cane) (maybe that's why I skipped them last year), is, I made the little nuggets. 

Here's the ingredient list:

4 cups of flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 sticks (1 lb) of unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1/2 tsp peppermint extract

8-10 little candy canes, crushed to smithereens

And here's what I did:

Sift together the flour and salt.  Set them aside.

In the bowl of your mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat the heck out of them til they're light and fluffy.

Add in the flour mixture and blend gently until just combined.

Divide the dough into halves, and put them in separate bowls.

With one half of the dough, add in the vanilla and the cocoa powder.

With the other half of the dough, add in the peppermint extract and the crushed candy canes.

Shape each mass of dough into a ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

~~~ (dum de dum…an hour goes by…) ~~~

Take out the dough.

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Don't preheat your oven – the dough will need to chill again before baking.

Now, here's where it gets wacky.  (I know, you thought I'd already reached wacky and gone a mile or two past it.)

When I was first playing around with ideas, I thought it would be nice to roll out a bit of each dough into snake-like strands about a pencil-width thick. 

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Then I'd press two strands, one of each flavor, together gently

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And slice them into roughly 2 1/2" to 3" sections and gently twist them together

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and pinch the ends together to hold them in place, and don't worry if the dough cracks or breaks while you're rolling it out or twisting the strands together 
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because that happens to everyone, and so just press the dough back together and move on.

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I did three cookie sheets' worth like that.

They looked so cool like that.  I put them in the oven to chill down again.  And then I baked a batch.

And they spread out and looked….well…ugly.

I tried adjusting the oven temp.

Still ugly.

My kids and husband liked them – and at the time I was still eating my beloved flour and sugar, and I thought they tasted just right, too.  They just looked…ugly.

So I left the dough in the fridge for a few more days while I avoided baking anything considered alternative cookie designs and finally just decided to cut off quarter inch sections from each batch of dough, press them together, then press down on them to flatten them in such a way that the resulting strip of dough was half chocolate, half peppermint, with the seam running the length of the strip.

I have to explain it all very well because I didn't take pictures.  I was not optimistic.

Anyway, I pressed these down to about a quarter of an inch or so, hacked sliced them into oh, chunks anywhere from 3/4" to a little over an inch wide, stuck them back on the cookie sheets (parchment-lined cookie sheets) and put them  back in the fridge.  For probably 3-4 hours.

And then I baked them.

And they came out great.  They didn't spread; they just puffed up a bit.  YAY!

And I quickly put them in a container, slapped the lid on, and threw them on a pile of other cookie-containing containers. 

And I try to ignore their call.

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It's not easy, either.

But so far, I am succeeding.

7 thoughts on “Chocolate Peppermint Nuggets and Lots of Other Insanity

  1. You are a good brave girl… :))

    (I have lost a stone since beg October, with another 3 to go, so I feel your pain… I shall have a resolutely sugarless Xmas too…)

  2. Hooray for you – for your commitment and dedication. We are vacationing at the beach in February – a MAJOR vacation for us, and I am wishing the pounds off. So far wishing is not working. so I am using you as my mentor. hang in there, and I will cut back on sugar. By putting that bag of cookies in the freezer. Right now. Thank you for the motivation.

  3. p.s. we in Iowa are blizzarded in. Wind. Snow. Don’t leave your house warnings. Stay at home and bake cookies day. Fill the bird feeders. Enjoy the “day off” from work.

  4. Yay Jayne! You can do it! Woot!

    I seriously recommend using a calorie counter of some sort, it turned out my instincts on the calorie content of foods were way off. I use an iPod app to keep track, but there are several on-line calorie trackers too.
    The thing I really like about calorie counting is that I do get to fit in some carbs in the form of limited amounts of breads and cookies.

  5. You can do this. You have something to motivate you. Everyone at work is doing the Medi-fast diet. It’s all based on portion control and 6 very small meals today. It’s working for them.

  6. This might sound a little weird, but I could just give you a big hug. When I started the gluten-free craziness the only thing I wanted in the entire world was a big hug (okay, and a piece of toast) but the hugs always helped.

    You can do it. You have to tell yourself that you’re not “giving up” or “depriving yourself” of the things. The key is to start exploring other foods that don’t contain white sugars or flours. Plain white popcorn is good with some spices (not salt) added to it (no butter or olive oil though…) or hot sauce. I know it sounds kind of gross, but if you like spicy food it’s good and some hot sauces are either very low in calories or don’t have any calories at all (but watch the sodium).

    I just *really* started my training for football season coming up in the spring – I realized I’ve gained about 10-15 lbs since the end of last season in June… I’m not thrilled. So I’m joining all of you with the dieting and exercise. I have a trip to Florida planned in April to visit my family… so I’m hoping to at least look good in the bathing suit I have.

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