Peppermint-Chocolate Layered Dessert

This uses three ingredients.  Now that’s a quick dessert.  However, it does need to spend some time in the freezer.
So, please, begin this the night before your event, in order to let this freeze solid.

Ingredients
One 14 oz. package chocolate sandwich cookies (Oreo type)
1/2 cube (4 ounces) melted butter
One 1-1/2 quart container of peppermint ice cream

Preparation

Prepare the pan by lightly greasing the bottom only of a 9 x 13 inch pan.  Fold a length of parchment paper in half, creasing well.  Use that crease to center the parchment paper, then smooth out, letting the paper overhang the long edges by about 2-3.”  Set aside.

I’m crushing them more!

Put all the cookies into a zipper plastic bag, OR into a bowl OR into your food processor (easiest).  Crush them thoroughly, or if you have a food processor, pulse until the texture of fine gravel, or chunky sand.  The crumbs should be small, with no obvious big chunks of cookie.

Reserve one cup of the this pulverized mixture for the crumble topping, and if it’s not really fine, do some more crushing.  Set aside.

Place the remainder of the crushed cookies into a mixing bowl, and add 1/4 cup melted butter.  (I like the real thing.)  Mix well.

Pour into the prepared pan, and press firmly with the back of a spoon to even out the crushed cookies.  Place in freezer until solid, about 2 hours.

Set out one carton of ice cream on the counter for about 15 minutes, or until the carton yields slightly when squeezed.  Dump (squirt, sort of ) into a mixing bowl fitted with the paddle beater, let sit for about another 10 minutes.  Turn on mixer slowly, then up to medium, while you beat the ice cream into a creamy mixture.  If you don’t have a mixer with a paddle attachment, use a bowl and a sturdy spoon.  You don’t want the mixture to melt; it should be creamy, not runny.  Work fast if you are doing it by hand.

Spoon it out onto the frozen layer of crushed cookie in glops; spread evenly.

Sprinkle with the reserved cookie crumbs, and refreeze.  It will take at least four to six hours for the ice cream to freeze properly.

Why the overhanging parchment paper?  When you are ready to serve, lift it out onto a board, cut with a knife, then replace remainder back into the pan. Store dessert in the freezer, either with the lid to your 9 x 13, or with foil.  (This is shown just before it received its crumb topping.)

Cranberry Curd Pie

I first saw this on the New York Times website, then saw it again on the Bon Appetit website, then about a bajillion other bot-driven websites (all looking the same, all “authored” by a single-named woman, who promised hearth and home and happiness while inundating the viewer with ads-ads-ads).  What is it with these robot websites??

I read about 90% of the comments on the NYTimes recipe site pertaining to this recipe, and have incorporated my changes below.  This pie is gluten-free because I wanted to make it for a woman at my church who can’t eat gluten, and has not had a dessert at a church dinner in a millenia.  This is my holiday gift to her, and to you.  First, the recipe, then the photos (reverse of the usual).

Cranberry Curd Pie

Almond Crust
2 cups almond meal
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
Place in medium bowl, stir to mix (or use food processor).

Cut in 6 Tablespoons of softened butter, until crumbs are fine, and you can gather the dough together in your hands.  If too dry, add 1-2 Tablespoons water, a bit at a time.  Press dough evenly into a 10-inch tart pan with removeable bottom; use half the dough for the sides and half for the bottom.  Prick all over with a fork.  Tear off a piece of aluminum foil the size of the tart pan, and butter the dull side.  Press onto your tart butter-side down; freeze for at least 30 minutes.  This can be made a couple of days ahead.  Just make sure the aluminum foil seals the tart well. (photos below)

To bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the chilled tart shell with the foil into the oven and bake about 10 minutes. Remove from oven, and carefully take off the foil.  Finish baking for another 5 minutes.  Cool.

Cranberry Curd Filling
12 ounces cranberries, washed and picked over (almost 2 cups)
1 cup sugar
Peel of one orange, removed with a vegetable peeler, in strips (then rip into about 2″ pieces)
Juice of one orange, or 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks
1-1/2 Teaspoons cornstarch
4 ounces (1/2 stick) butter, softened

Put cranberries, sugar, orange juice and peel in a saucepan over medium heat.  Simmer until cranberries have popped and softened, and liquid has diminished, about 10 – 15 minutes.  Remove orange peels.  Using an immersion blender, blend the mixture until berries are not noticeable in the pan.

Set a medium mesh sieve over a bowl, and spoon the cranberry mixture into the sieve, pressing it into the bowl. (See note below about what remains in the sieve.)

Wash the pan (or get another).  Break in the two eggs, then add in the two egg yolks.  Stir to break up yolks.  Stir in 1-1/2 teaspoons (1/2 Tablespoon) cornstarch until blended.  You may see some white bumps; ignore.

Spoon cranberry puree into the yolk mixture.  Set over low heat, and constantly whisking/stirring, bring mixture to a temperature of between 140 and 160.  The commenters noted that when properly cooked, the curd should coat a spoon.  This took me about 15 minutes.  I did keep it constantly stirring, but I wasn’t beating it.  I didn’t want to incorporate any air into the mixture and disrupt the anticipated color.

Remove from heat, and stir in the butter a bit at a time, whisking well in between each addition.  Again, don’t incorporate air in your mixing.  Let cool to room temperature (mine was a little warmer), and pour into the prepared pie shell.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes, in order to set the curd.  Cool on a rack.  Store at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Sugared Cranberries for topping

Boil together 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water until mixture is at a full boil and looks clear.  If you have time, let the syrup cool.
Wash and pick out your best handful of berries (3/4 to 1 cup), and stir into the syrup, making sure they are well coated.  Remove to a fine rack (or into a strainer).

Sprinkle some sugar onto a square of waxed paper, and sprinkle some more over the top.  Then roll the berries in the sugar.  If they are well-drained, you won’t get clumps of sugar, but a nice, even coating.  Let cool and dry, then decorate the top.  I meant to clip some mint sprigs to place at the center berries; you might want to consider this.

Cooks Notes:

After all was said and done, I had about 1/2 cup left of the cranberry mash in my sieve from making the curd.  This went nicely with a slice of Cranberry-Orange Bread that I had in the freezer, as it’s like a jam. Store in the refrigerator.

If using the almond crust, best eaten on the day you make it.
Day One: it was perfection.
Day Two: crust was really soft, but curd was still good.

Alternate crust: Sweet Tart Dough (more like a shortbread cookie)

Curd can made be ahead.  Cover curd with plastic wrap (pressing it against the surface of the curd) and refrigerate up to one week.

Now the photos!

Texas Sheet Cake

Since this is one of those recipes that my mother gave to me, probably about thirty-five years ago, you can imagine my disgust when a famous cowboy-cookbook-authoress put it in one of her cookbooks and claimed it as her own.  I don’t even think she was born when this started making the rounds.

In an article in Texas Monthly, Courteney Bond writes that “Texans clearly have a proprietary interest in the enormous rectangle of thin, flat chocolate cake slathered in deliciously sugary, pecan-studded chocolate icing. But what exactly makes it a “Texas” sheet cake? Some say it’s simply because the cake is huge. Others maintain it’s because it’s flamboyantly rich. Still others point to the addition of Texas-y ingredients like buttermilk and pecans, or to the fact that the recipe is similar to one submitted to the Dallas Morning News in 1957 that subsequently swept the country.”  You can trace the timeline of this treat here, or have a look at the full range of the Food Timeline, tracing more treats.

The proportions may vary slightly.  Some use walnuts instead of pecans (it doesn’t really matter to my way of thinking), but all recipes include buttermilk and cocoa.  Yield: 1 half-sheet-cake pan (about 15″ by 10″), in less time than it takes to drive to the big box store and pick up a cake.

Here you can see the difference between the Dutch-process cocoa and regular cocoa powder. I think the taste difference is dramatic (think more chocolatey and rich).

Grease a half-sheet-cake pan: 15 1/2″ by 10 1/2″ by 1″  This is also known as a “rimmed cookie sheet.” [Note: some say to flour it too, but I never have.]

Sift into bowl:
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon soda
2 cups sugar

Bring to boil:
2 stick butter or margarine
4 Tablespoons cocoa (I like using Dutch-processed cocoa the best)
1 cup water

Pour boiling liquids over dry ingredients and stir.

Add:
2 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

After cake comes out of oven, bring to boil:
1 stick butter
4 Tablespoons cocoa

Mix in: 6 Tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 -1/2 cups chopped nuts, pecan or walnuts

Combine and pour on slightly-cooled cake, spreading to cover evenly.

Cheesecake Diamonds – or – Squares

Mom used to make these long ago, and recently I had cause to resurrect them from the recipe graveyard.  Yes, they are really 1980-ish, but yes, they are really good.  I’ve updated the recipe to our more modern methods.

Cheesecake Diamonds, 9 x 13 pan (quantity can be halved)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor place:
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup walnuts
Process until walnuts are small bits, but still recognizable.  Melt 10 Tablespoons butter, then, with food processor running, pour melted butter into flour mixture, letting it mix about 20 seconds.  Don’t overmix–you want it to remain kind of loose.  Pour this out into a 9 x 13 inch pan.

Scoop out 1 full cup of this topping and reserve.  Press the remainder down firmly and evenly into pan.  Bake for 12-15 minutes in hot oven.  [NOTE: if using a glass pan, set oven temperature to 325.]

In a separate bowl, mix together:
2 softened 8-ounce packages cream cheese (I use Trader Joe’s), and 1 cup granulated sugar until creamy.

Add:
2 eggs
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup milk (4 Tablespoons)
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat well. Spread over baked bottom crust (crust doesn’t need to cool).

To reserved topping, add 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, mix.  Sprinkle over the filling.  Return to the oven and bake 25 minutes more.  Cool, then cut into diamonds or squares. Keep refridgerated.

To cut into diamonds, make parallel cuts the length of the pan.  Then cut across them at a 45 degree angle, forming diamonds.  There will be odd-shaped pieces in the corners: Cook’s taste!

Store in refridgerator.

(You know how to cut into squares.)

Gingerbread Cookies

I was visiting Matthew’s house at Christmastime, when we decided to rustle up a batch of Gingerbread Cookies, for eating and for sharing.  I found this recipe online at the King Arthur Flour website, and they all turned out so well I wanted to put it up here (I own the King Arthur cookbook).  We made a few modifications for ease in preparation, which I’ve incorporated into the recipe below.

Ingredients
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice or cloves
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Instructions
In a large mixing bowl, place the brown sugar, molasses, salt, and spices.  Melt the butter in a microwave, and add to the sugar/molasses mixture.  Beat in the egg.

Whisk the baking powder, soda and flour together, then to the molasses mixture about a quarter at a time.

Place the dough in a gallon-sized quart bag, shape it into a flat disk, zip closed, and refrigerate for 1 hour or longer. The dough may be sticky and hard to roll if not thoroughly chilled, so make sure it’s cold before continuing.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out several baking sheets; line with parchment parchment paper.

Once the dough has chilled, take one-half of the dough out of the refrigerator.  I always use a floured pastry cloth and a stockinette on the rolling pin, but if you don’t have this, work on a well-floured surface, and roll the dough 1/8″ to 1/4″ thick; the thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be.

Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, cutting them as close to one another as possible to minimize waste.  Roll scraps into a ball, and re-roll and cut out again.

Transfer the cookies to prepared cookie sheets. Bake the cookies just until they’re slightly brown around the edges 8 to 10 minutes, or until they feel firm. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for several minutes, or until they’re set. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Cook’s Note: We doubled this with no troubles at all, but worked with only 1/4 of the dough at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated.

Orange-Cranberry-Pistachio Biscotti

I had to make a batch of cookies to take to a holiday event, and decided to revamp my traditional biscotti recipe, adding pistachios, orange zest and dried cranberries (Craisins) to the recipe.  The original, Anise-Almost Biscotti, are great biscotti, but I omitted the almonds and the anise and added the above treats.  They were a hit.

Preparation: Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line1 baking sheet with parchment paper.

Ingredients
1 and 1/4 cups sugar
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
zest from two medium oranges (about 1 Tablespoon)
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries (Craisins)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios (unsalted, unroasted preferred, but it’s okay if you don’t have them that way.  I buy mine at Trader Joe’s).

In mixer, mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, and orange rind. In another bowl, sift (or stir together) flour, baking powder and salt.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir on low speed, scraping when needed until well blended.  Add dried cranberries and pistachios.

 

Glop half of the dough onto the parchment-lined cookie sheet. Dough is kind of gooey–so I used my spatula to shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Mine got a little wide, so the final biscotti were a little flat. Remember that, when you shape them. Space the logs 2-3 inches apart.  (What you see here is a doubled batch.)

Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 35 minutes (a little longer than the usual biscotti). They should be firm to the touch. Don’t turn off the oven! 

(traditional biscotti shown here)

Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 20 minutes.  I dragged mine over onto a baking rack by using the edge of the parchment paper, and tilting the cookie sheet a little bit.

Transfer logs to work surface; discard parchment paper. Using serrated knife, cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Stand them on edge, as shown in the first photo.  If you do it this way, you don’t have to turn them over, and you can get it all on one baking sheet.  Bake 15-20 minutes.  You want to make sure there are no doughy spots, and they are good and crunchy.

Transfer to rack and cool. These can be prepared 1 week ahead of your Big Party. Store in airtight container at room temperature.  These have a melt in your mouth crispness that are typical of homemade biscotti, but unlike store-bought, they won’t break your jaw.

Blueberry Crumble Bars


I first ate these at Quilt Night, an evening where a lot of quilters gather to stitch, trade tales and have a treat.  And what a treat this was: Laurel outdid herself. She called them “Blueberry Oat Bars” but we have since renamed them, since they remind us of eating blueberry crumble. I’ve since made them for my husband and I, a daughter and her family, a couple moving out of the area, a son and his family, and it gets rave reviews from everyone.

To begin, heat oven to 350 F; grease 9 x 13 baking pan.

Topping

1 ¾ cup old-fashioned Quaker oats, uncooked
1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ t. baking soda
½ t. salt
¾ cup butter, melted

Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, nuts, baking soda and salt. Add butter, mixing until crumbly. Reserve ¾ cup mixture; press remaining mixture onto bottom of prepared dish.  Bake this bottom layer for 10 minutes.

Filling

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup granulated sugar
3 T. water, divided
2 T. cornstarch
2 t. lemon juice

While bottom layer bakes, combine blueberries, granulated sugar and 2 T. water in medium saucepan.

Bring to a boil, simmer 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1 T. water, cornstarch, and lemon juice; mix well. Gradually stir into blueberry mixture; cook and stir about 30 seconds or until thickened.

Spread over partially baked base to within ¼ inch of edge; sprinkle with reserved oat mixture.

Press topping down into blueberries slightly.

Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until topping is golden brown.  Cool on wire rack; cut into bars. Store tightly covered, or freeze.

NOTE: I doubled this, and used a rimmed baker’s half-sheet to bake it in.  All times are the same; ingredients are doubled.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Ice Cream

I seem to be haunting Smitten Kitchen a lot these days, as this one is another of her recipes, updated and improved since she had the Strawberry Rhubarb Pie contest and didn’t come out so well.  Read the whole story on her blog–it’s in vintage Deb language, and I love reading it.  I was in the market, thinking about this pie, and luckily it was online, so I picked up the pound-and-a-half of rhubarb and the strawberries, then went home to make it.

Strawberries and Rhubarb

I’m sure hacking the rhubarb out of your own garden would be the Best Thing, but the local grocery store is the best I can manage, and it seems they only carry rhubarb for a very limited time, so I have to jump right on it, when it shows up.

Crust

You’ll also need your favorite recipe for a two-crust pastry pie. Here’s my favorite: Quick and Easy Pie Crust.   AVOID those nasty pre-made pie crusts in the grocery store.  It’s quick and easy to make your own.

3 1/2 cups (about 1 1/2 pounds, untrimmed) rhubarb, in 1/2-inch thick slices
3 1/2 cups (about 1 pound) strawberries, hulled and sliced if big, halved if tiny
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup quick-cooking tapioca
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
OPTIONAL: 1 large egg yolk beaten to blend with 1 teaspoon water (for glaze — see below)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a well-floured counter, roll half of pie dough into a 12-inch circle and carefully transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. (I like to roll it up over my rolling pin — gently — then lift it over to the pie plate and unroll it.  I then ease it into the plate.)

Strawberries and Rhubarb

Stir together rhubarb, strawberries, sugars, lemon, salt and tapioca in a large bowl.

Filled with Butter Dots

Mound filling inside bottom pie crust and dot with bits of unsalted butter. Trim bottom pie crust even with pie plate edge, then moisten the exposed edge by running your finger, dipped in water, over the dough.

Top Crust

Roll second half of pie dough into an 11-inch circle and cut decorative slits in it. (I used a tiny heart cookie cutter for my vent holes.)  Transfer it to center over the pie filling, as above. Trim top of pie dough so that it hangs over the pie plate by 1/2 to 1.”

Prebaked Pie

Tuck rim of dough underneath the bottom crust and crimp it decoratively.  (I sprinkle a little bit of sugar on top of the pie crust.  But others like to use the egg wash mentioned above.  Do one or the other.)

Place in preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 25 to 30 minutes, until the pie is golden and the juices bubble visibly.  Mine weren’t visible, so I lifted the pie to the stovetop, and listened — I could hear it bubbling.

Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. When full cool (several hours later) the juices gel.

Strawberry Rhubard Pie

She notes that pie can be made 2-3 days ahead.  But why?  Make it fresh and eat it all up.

IMG_1885

Something we like to do at our house is to place the cut pieces of pie dough on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon-sugar, then bake at 400 degrees until they are lightly golden, about 6 minutes.  We call them “crusties.”

Apple Galette

10_Finished Apple Galette

This recipe is another from the Smitten Kitchen website, who got it from Alice Waters, who got it from Jacques Pepin.  Smitten Kitchen calls it “Simplest Apple Tart,” but my husband, who lived two years in Belgium and France, calls it a “galette.”  I’m going with his title.

1_Cut Apples

I learned to cut chunks of apple like this from my sister Christine, a stellar cook who taught me a lot of Kitchen Truths.  None of this coring business–just whack if off from around the core. Now on to the recipe.

Dough:
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85 grams) butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3  1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) chilled water

Filling:
2 pounds (910 grams) apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar

Glaze:
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar

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To make the dough:  Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas.

3_Galette Dough

Add a bit of water, toss, then add a little more water, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it mostly holds together. If too dry, that is — it won’t be gathered into a ball — add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk and slip into a ziploc bag and then refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove. Let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick.

5_Greased small Tart Pan

I held up my pan to make sure it was the right size.

4_Dough Into Pan

Place dough in a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan.  (You can go free-form, by simply using a parchment-lined baking sheet if you wish; that’s where my husband gets the name “galette”). Heat oven to 400°F.

6_Filling the Tart

And now the filling: Overlap apples on dough in a ring up to the sides if using the tart pan (or 2 inches from edge if going free-form). Continue inward until you reach the center.

7_Filled Tart Pan

I lay another layer in the center, as the first time I made it, the center collapsed.  I sprinkled some granulated sugar lightly over the apples, about 1 Tablespoon.  Then fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.

8_ Brush with Butter

Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle the remaining sugar over dough edge and apples.

Smitten Kitchen notes that if you can’t get that much sugar onto the apples, that’s fine, as it makes a lightly tart/sweet dish that way.  (I think by putting one Tablespoon on before folding the dough back, I was able to get all of my sugar on.)  And here’s my true confession: I forgot the butter and sprinkled the sugar all over everything, THEN remembered the butter.  So I just slathered on top of the sugar.  My first one of these I did it correctly, but they both turned out in the end to have the same amount of deliciousness.

10_Finished Apple Galette

Bake in center of 400-degree oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes. Yes, do that.2_Apple Peelings to cook

In the meantime, while the galette/tart bakes, make the glaze by putting the reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes.

9_Appley Juice

She notes to strain syrup through cheesecloth. But I just used a pastry brush from the pan, pushing the peels to the side to get at the syrup.

Remove tart from oven, and set onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes. (If you made the free-form galette, slide the parchment paper-with-galette onto the rack.)

Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.

Two-cup Measure

And just asking. . . but why don’t they make two-cup measures like this anymore?  It’s a treasure.

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookie

Chocolate-dipped Valentine Cookies

I had planned to make biscotti for the church ladies this week, then remembered that they all sort of nibbled around the corners of that cookie, not wanting to make it sound crunchy, even though outside of their happy mouths no one can hear the crunching, so thought I’d try and find a Valentine Cookie that was quieter.  I found this while searching and proceeded to make them up as directed.  Except I tripled them–Kids, Don’t Try This At Home!  Just make them in a single batch and you and your mixer will be much happier.

I also noticed in the comments that many substituted out the peppermint extract for almond extract.  I think that would be a better choice, as I found the peppermint in full strength to impart an almost bitter taste to the cookie.

I also have an ancient sugar cookie recipe that mixes the ingredients a little differently: cut the butter/cream cheese into the flour, add the eggs/liquids, and go from there.  I am thinking that would have been a lot easier than the mess I made in the kitchen today.

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, softened
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
3 cups all-purpose flour

Glaze
1 (12-ounce) package (2 cups) real semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons shortening

Directions

Combine all cookie ingredients except flour in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add flour; beat at low speed until well mixed. Divide dough in half; wrap each half in plastic food wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight until chilled.

Heat oven to 375°F. Roll out dough, one-half at a time (keeping remaining dough refrigerated), on lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut out cookies with 2 1/2-inch heart-shaped cutter. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 7-10 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove from cookie sheets to wire cooling rack; cool completely.

Melt chocolate and shortening in 1-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, 4-6 minutes or until melted. Dip half of each heart into chocolate. Place onto waxed paper-lined cookie sheets; refrigerate until chocolate is firm. Store refrigerated.