Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Chocolate Mint White Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my non-writing life, I’m a preschool teacher for Discovery Montessori School in Topeka. One aspect of my job that I enjoy is spending time in our outdoor classroom where we have an herb garden. The kids love picking and smelling the leaves, and many have taken to tasting each type of mint. If you’ve ever grown mint, you know it is quite prolific. We have mint everywhere!

One variety we grow is chocolate mint, which smells like a York Peppermint Pattie. I picked some to use in a cookie recipe I got many years ago when I wrote an article on growing a kitchen herb garden for the Concord Monitor newspaper in New Hampshire. The piece featured the Canterbury Shaker Village, a museum which teaches about the Shaker religious community that lived there for more than 200 years. The Shaker sisters used a lot of herbs in their recipes.

The original recipe is for spearmint white chocolate chip cookies, and I remember the surprise and delight I felt the first time the refreshing mint flavor burst in my mouth. It blended beautifully with the white chocolate chips and the almond flavoring.

I enjoyed the same experience with these cookies made with chocolate mint. They are wonderful with a glass full of ice cold milk and will make a delicious summertime treat.

Next time, I may experiment by using dark chocolate chips mixed with the white chocolate ones.   

Spearmint White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 6 dozen cookies

4 ounces almonds, coarsely chopped and toasted
1/2 cup loosely packed spearmint leaves, stems removed (I used chocolate mint.)
10 ounces white chocolate chips
4 ounces unsalted butter (1 stick)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons brown sugar, firmly packed
1 egg
1/2 tablespoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon boiling water
3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons flour

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Chop the mint leaves very fine and set aside.

Using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed until it whitens and holds soft peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar, beating until well blended.  In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and almond extract together and beat them into the butter mixture, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water. Beat half of the flour into the butter mixture, beat in the baking soda, and then add the remaining flour, beating until just combined.  Beat in the almonds, chopped mint, and white chocolate chips just until combined. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill until firm, about 2 hours.

Work with the dough in small batches, keeping the rest of the dough refrigerated.  Form the dough into 1 inch small balls and flatten with the heel of your hand on a well greased cookie sheet.  Bake 10 to12 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown.