Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

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Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies are soft and tender chocolate sugar cookies filled with a smooth and creamy peppermint ganache.  The small batch of holiday cookies are delightfully decorated for Christmas with crushed candy canes!

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Chocolate and peppermint go together like peanut butter and jelly.  At least, for Christmas they do!  And these Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies are a delicious – an handy! – way to get all of that holiday goodness in one bite! 

This small batch cookie recipe yields 9 cookies that evoke all of the flavor of the holidays – and much more:

  • Soft and Tender – These chocolate cookies are like a soft cocoa sugar cookie.  The edges are caramelized by the sugar and the cookie itself has a soft and tender bite.
  • Rich Cocoa Flavor –  I like to use Dutch process cocoa to evoke the warm and rich cocoa flavor.
  • Creamy Ganache Center – Chocolate can always use a little more chocolate, and the creamy chocolate ganache filling is the icing on the cake – or cookie!
  • Crisp and Cool Peppermint Flavor – Peppermint in the filling, plus the festive candy cane decorations add a cooling sensation and flavor to the cookies.  
  • Christmas Cookie Must-Have – Every cookie box and cookie table needs a decadent chocolate cookie!
Close up of chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookie with a bite

What You Need To Make Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients

  • All-Purpose Flour – I have not tested the recipe with gluten free flour.  But you can certainly try a 1:1 gluten free flour!
  • Cocoa Powder – My preference is Dutch Process cocoa powder.  It has a great chocolate flavor, it is not as acidic as natural cocoa powder, and it makes the cookies the pretty dark cocoa color!
  • Corn Starch – The cornstarch makes the cookies soft and tender.  Otherwise, the cookies can turn out too hard.
  • Baking Powder
  • Salt – Salt balances all of the flavors in the cookies.
  • Unsalted Butter
  • Dark Brown Sugar – I think dark brown sugar is a great complement to the cocoa powder.  Plus, the molasses in the brown sugar adds a rich flavor to the cookies.
  • Granulated Sugar – We use a little granulated sugar in the cookie to make sure they are sweet enough for Christmas.  And we use a little more to roll the cookies before baking.
  • Egg Yolk – The egg yolk adds to the soft and tender texture of the cookies.  If you are looking for recipes on how to use the extra egg white, try the Flourless Chocolate Cookies, or the Gluten Free Small Batch Sugar Cookies.
  • Vanilla Extract – The vanilla in the cookies rounds out the warm and buttery flavors.  
  • Peppermint Extract – A little peppermint in the chocolate ganache filling goes a long way!
  • Candy Canes – I used small candy canes simply because that is what was readily available at the grocery!
  • Chocolate – You can use semi-sweet chocolate chips, or a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar chopped into pieces.  The chocolate baking bar will definitely melt smoother, but chocolate chips work just fine too.
  • Heavy Cream – The heavy cream makes the ganache smooth and creamy.

Baking Equipment

  • Baking  Sheet with Parchment Paper
  • Mixing Bowls
  • Sturdy Wooden Spoon
  • Hand Held Mixer – Optional instead of mixing by hand.  Though, it is worth noting that this is a thick and somewhat sticky dough and mixing by hand may be easier.  

Tips For Making Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Cookie Ingredient Tips

  • Don’t skip the corn starch – I have recently discovered that adding a little corn starch to cookie dough makes the cookies tender and not bake into hard little rocks.  A tender cookie is ideal for these Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies because we want the end result to be softer and the texture is a great pairing with the chocolate ganache filling.
  • Dark brown sugar adds more flavor – There is molasses in brown sugar, and dark brown sugar has more.  The flavor makes the cocoa even more rich and bold.
  • Dutch process cocoa isn’t as acidic – My preference for cocoa powder is Dutch Process. I (personally) find it to have a bolder chocolate flavor, and it isn’t as acidic as natural cocoa powder.
    • I have not tested the cookies using natural cocoa, but you can certainly try it.  Natural cocoa needs something to balance the acidity (like baking soda), but because these are cookies and we aren’t expecting them to rise like a cake, you may not need to add any.  However, if your cookies don’t rise at all, you can try adding 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda.
  • Add the dry ingredients in increments – This simply makes mixing the dough by hand easier – and less messy.

Cookie Dough Tips

  • Mix by hand -This is a thick dough and mixing by hand is easier.  You can try a hand held mixer, but as the dough starts to form, it may seize up the beaters.
  • Use a cookie scoop to portion the cookies – Cookie scoops are a cookie baker’s best friend.  They make portioning the dough so much easier.  I have provided a (affiliate) link in the recipe for the scoop I use.
  • Chill the dough – This cookie dough needs to be chilled.  Because we use melted butter, and because they are cookies and we don’t want them to spread into puddles when baked, we chill the dough. 
  • Shape the cookies first, then chill – And because this is a thick dough, I recommend shaping the dough into cookie balls, making the wells, rolling in peppermint sugar, then chill.  Trying to shape after chilled may be too tough and the dough may crack too much along the edges.
  • Use the back of a teaspoon to make the wells for the filling – You can use your thumb, but the teaspoon is easier and less mess!

The number of cookies you yield from this recipe will depend on how large or small you make your cookies!

Peppermint Ganache Tips

  • Good chocolate makes for a smoother and richer ganache – I like to use a semi-sweet Baker’s Bar (found in most groceries), but chocolate chips will work too. 
  • Heat the cream to just before boiling – The cream doesn’t need to be heated so much that it boils.  We just want warmed cream that will melt the chocolate.
  • Let the ganache sit for a few minutes after adding the cream – This gives the warm cream time to start to melt the chocolate.  Mixing right away after adding the cream and you may not end up with a smooth ganache.
  • Taste test the ganache when adding the peppermint – A little peppermint extract goes a long way.  Too much, and you may end up with ganache that tastes like toothpaste!
A plate of chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies

Common Questions For Making Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Can this recipe be doubled?

I have not tested it, but you can give it a try and let me know! If you do double the batch, I recommend using 2 egg yolks vs. 1 whole egg.

Why do you add corn starch to the dough?

The corn starch makes the cookies tender.

I don’t have Dutch Process cocoa powder. Can I use natural cocoa instead?

You can try natural cocoa. I have listed reasons above in the Tips section why I use Dutch cocoa. If you do use natural cocoa powder, it needs something to balance the acidity and still make the baked good rise – like baking soda. If you try it, and your cookies don’t rise, try adding 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda to the next batch.

What can I make with the leftover egg white?

The Flourless Chocolate Cookies and Gluten Free Sugar Cookies are great recipes to use up the extra egg white!

Is it necessary to chill the dough?

Yes. I almost always chill my cookie dough so the cookies don’t over-spread when baked. Chilling also gives the dough time to hydrate and the flavors develop.

Why do I have to shape the cookies before chilling them?

This is a thick dough and shaping them first it just easier.

What is the best way to make the ‘well’ for the cookies?

Use the back of a teaspoon to keep your thumb clean!

The cookies split along the edges while shaping and/or baking. What did I do wrong?

Nothing! The cookies may or may not crack along the edges, and if they do, they will still taste good!

Can I freeze the cookie dough?

You can. I recommend shaping the dough first, then freezing. Place the shaped dough in a Ziploc bag and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the refrigerator.

Can I freeze baked and filled cookies?

Yes. The shaped and filled cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost at room temperature. Which may take 1 to 3 hours.

Peppermint chocolate thumbprint Christmas cookies on a cooling rack

More Small Batch Christmas Cookie Recipes

Chocolate thumbprints stacked on a table
Chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies on a wire rack
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5 from 1 review

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

Yield: 9 Cookies
Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies are soft and tender chocolate sugar cookies filled with a smooth and creamy peppermint ganache.  The small batch cookies are decorated for Christmas with crushed candy canes!
Prep10 mins
Cook13 mins
Chill30 mins
Total53 mins
High Altitude Adjustment: May not require full bake time. Start checking for doneness at minimum bake time if noted.

Ingredients

Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies

  • 1/2 cup +1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch process
  • 1/2 teaspoon corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar - plus more for rolling cookies
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 Small Candy Canes

Peppermint Ganache Filling

  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate - chips or baking bar will work
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract - more or less to taste

Instructions

  • Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper.
  • Add the candy canes to a plastic bag and crush into small pieces using the back of a measuring spoon. Transfer them to a shallow bowl filled with 1 to 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, corn starch, baking powder, and salt.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the melted butter and sugars. Stir until combined and creamy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue to mix until incorporated and smooth.
  • Sprinkle half of the dry ingredients over the wet ingredients and using a sturdy wooden spoon, mix until the dry ingredients are just incorporated. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until no dry streaks remain. Note – You can also mix in the dry ingredients using a hand held mixer – it is worth noting though that this is a tough and sticky dough and mixing by hand may actually be easier.
  • Using a cookie scoop (I use a smaller 1.5 tablespoon #50 cookie scoop), scoop 9 equal cookies. Roll the cookies between your hands to make dough balls. Roll the cookies through the peppermint sugar and place them at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Using the back of a teaspoon, or your thumb, make wells in the middle of each cookie.
  • Cover the baking sheet lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate the cookies on the baking sheet for at least 30 minutes. Note – You can also chill the dough first, then scoop, roll through peppermint sugar, and make wells after refrigeration. However, the cookie dough may be too firm to make wells without the cookies cracking too much.
  • With 15 minutes left of chill time, preheat the oven to 350F degrees and adjust the oven rack to the middle position.
  • Bake the cookies for 11 to 13 minutes, or until the edges are set. While baking the wells you made may fill back in slightly. Once the cookies come out of the oven, use the back of a teaspoon, or your thumb, to make indentations again. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet set on a wire cooling rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the cooling rack to cool completely. Note – Even with forming the dough and chilling first, the cookies may crack a little around the edges when baked. This is ok! You can try to press the cracks back together as soon as they come out of the oven, or just leave them. The taste won't be compromised!

Peppermint Ganache Filling

  • Once the cookies have cooled, make the peppermint filling.
  • In a small mixing bowl, add the chocolate chips. Next, warm the heavy cream in the microwave or on the stove-top. Heat until warm, but not boiling.
  • Pour the warm cream over the chocolate and let the mix sit for about 3 minutes – to allow the cream to start to melt the chocolate. Stir the ganache until fully mixed and smooth. Add the peppermint extract and taste – add a little more if you prefer a stronger peppermint flavor. A little goes a long way so use caution to not add to much!
  • Pour the ganache into the wells of the cookies, sprinkle with a little more crushed candy canes, and Enjoy!
Liked the recipe?Please leave a review and star rating for the recipe! This greatly helps me continue to provide FREE recipes!

Notes

  • Freezing the Cookie Dough – The cookie dough can be frozen – for up to 3 months.  I recommend making the cookie dough balls and shaping before freezing.  Place formed cookies in a Ziploc bag to freeze.  Defrost in the refrigerator.
  • Freezing Baked Cookies – Baked and filled cookies can be frozen for up to 3 months.  Either in a Tupperware, or gently placed in a Ziploc bag.  Defrost at room temperature – which may take 1 to 3 hours.
Check out the blog post for more Tips and FAQ’s!
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Author: Erin Cernich

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