Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]

Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

When I first made these cookies, I intended only to bake the mint chocolate version I grew up eating every Christmas. Maybe you’ve seen similar recipes before. Basically, you make a simple chocolate dough and then melt an Andes mint on top. They’re a family favorite (except with family members who dislike mint in their desserts). I happen to love mint in most desserts, and these cookies are no exception.

I shared the classic Mint Chocolate Cookies below. But as is typical when I cook, I didn’t have enough ingredients on hand to finish the whole batch. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? What I lacked in mint chocolate I had in dark chocolate, so I popped a few pieces of dark chocolate on top of a dozen of the cookies, and then sprinkled on a pinch of flaky sea salt.

You guys. This sea salt version may be my favorite cookie ever (or at least in the top three). The key is the salt. Not all salt is created equal, and it’s worth finding really good flaky sea salt for this recipe. I originally tried it with fleur de sel I had on hand, but what I had was finer than I wanted (however, it will work if that’s what you have easy access to. The fleur de sel I have is from Trader Joe’s). Thanks to a pantry filled with random items including several different kinds of salt, I had a bag of Alaska Pure Sea Salt. You want big, flaky pieces of sea salt here. Sea salt dissolves easily in your mouth and complements the dark chocolate so well. Plus, the large pieces look amazing against the deep chocolate color of the cookies—like little flecks of snow.

If you don’t love the combination of salt and sweet, though, have no fear. Stick with the mint version, or create your own! The main cookie is a basic chocolate cookie, so you can use whatever you want on top—like peanut butter chips or white chocolate! You can also do like I did, and make a dozen or two of one version, and the rest a different version.

(Scroll to the bottom of this post for the recipe.)

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!] | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Andes Chocolate Mint Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser
Double Chocolate + Sea Salt Christmas Cookies | Sarah J. Hauser

Double Chocolate Christmas Cookies [two ways!]
Makes about 3-4 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough
¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
2 Tablespoons water
1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Mint Chocolate or Chocolate + Sea Salt Topping
2 (4.67 oz) packages Andes mint candy, each candy unwrapped
OR
About 8-9 ounces of dark chocolate, broken into chunks (you need 1 chunk for each cookie)
Flaky sea salt such as Alaska Pure Sea Salt

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the butter, water, and sugar. Cook, stirring frequently, until the butter and sugar melt. Add the chocolate chips and stir until everything is melted and mixed together. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Let it cool for 10-20 minutes.

Turn the mixer on high speed and add the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer to low speed. Add flour, baking soda, and salt, mixing just until blended. (Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula if needed.) Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the chilled dough into 1 to 1 ½-inch balls and place about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake for 9-11 minutes. Immediately after taking the cookies out of the oven, place an Andes mint or a dark chocolate chunk on each cookie. Let the chocolate melt a bit, then spread the melted chocolate over the cookie with a spoon. If you’re making the Chocolate + Sea Salt version, sprinkle a pinch of sea salt onto the melted dark chocolate.

Cool completely until the chocolate on top hardens. Store in the fridge or freezer, or serve. Enjoy!

Did you try these? Post a picture on Instagram and make sure to tag me (@sarah.j.hauser)! I’d love to see what’s happening in your kitchen!

Note: Want to know the difference between various salts? Check out this article from Real Simple.


Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

I called my mom one afternoon to check in. It was the middle of winter. I attended college in the Midwest, and there had been a huge snowfall in northern New Jersey where my parents lived.

She picked up the phone, sounding slightly out of breath.

“Everything okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. We were just playing in the snow.”

“Oh fun! Were the kids over?” I said, referring to my nieces and nephews who lived in the area.

“No, just your dad and me.”

“Wait, what?” Just you guys?”

“Yeah. We built a snowman and made snow angels.”

My parents were empty nesters after having six children spread over 17 years. They had quite a few grandkids by that point, but I hardly pictured my nearly retired parents playing in the snow by themselves. They were supposed to be the responsible ones, the ones who went to work and kept the house clean and volunteered at church. Playing in the snow looked so...frivolous.

Keep reading and get the recipe at Coffee + Crumbs!

Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Salted Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate
Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate-5.jpg

Read more and get the recipe over at Coffee + Crumbs!


Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

I love going out for a big dinner, but there’s something extra comforting and cozy about setting the table, lighting a few candles, and enjoying a meal in your own home. My husband and I try to have a "date-night-in" periodically. They can be a little easier to pull off when the budget or babysitting logistics add an extra challenge to going out. Or, let's be honest...sometimes I just want to eat dinner in my sweatpants (romantic, right?). 

There are challenges to staying in, though. For our annual Christmas date-night-in, my daughter decided it was a good night to stay awake in her crib crying, so she ended up joining us for dinner. Not quite what we had in mind, but fortunately that doesn't happen most of the time (and she was quite happy when she realized she won the bedtime battle, so it was kind of cute having her sitting with us.)

Sometimes we order out from a favorite restaurant, other days we cook a special meal outside our normal dinner rotation, or we combine a bit of both - like takeout for dinner and then a homemade dessert.

This recipe for Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt is the perfect addition to any date-night-in menu. It’s warm, sweet, and irresistibly decadent. Add toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch and finish the dish with a hint of smoked salt. It’s a combination of flavors worthy of any special occasion. 

Are you a fan of doing date nights in? Do you have any favorite date-night-in recipes? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt-8.jpg
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Yields 4 servings

Roasted Pears
2 pears (I recommend using Bosc or Anjou pears)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons turbinado or brown sugar
⅓ cup raw hazelnuts
Pinch of smoked sea salt*

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pears in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet. (Line the sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up.)

 Brush the cut side of the pears with the melted butter, and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the buttered side of the pears (about ½ a teaspoon of sugar per pear half).

 Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pears are slightly browned.

 While the pears are roasting, make the chocolate sauce (see recipe below), and toast the hazelnuts. To toast the hazelnuts, add them to a small pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir or shake frequently for about 5-7 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from heat and let the nuts cool enough to handle. If you like, you can rub the skins off the hazelnuts with a dish towel (I personally don’t mind leaving a bit of the skins on). Roughly chop the nuts and set aside until the pears are ready.

When the pears have finished roasting, transfer them to individual plates and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Top with the chopped, toasted hazelnuts and a pinch of smoked sea salt. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, if desired. Enjoy!

 *You can substitute regular sea salt, but the flavor of smoked sea salt definitely takes this dessert up a notch.

Buttery Chocolate Sauce
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

Add the chocolate, cream, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat very gently over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter are melted and the ingredients are fully mixed. Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to use.

Note: This sauce is meant to be served very warm. If you make it in advance and the sauce cools completely, the chocolate and butter will separate and harden. You’ll just need to rewarm it before serving.


This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.


Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Cupcakes

There’s something about adding chocolate chips to a recipe that automatically takes it to the next level. Who wants banana bread when you can have chocolate chip banana bread? Why settle for a regular muffin when you can throw semi-sweet morsels in there as an excuse to eat more chocolate before noon? And of course, what would the quintessential chocolate chip cookie be without its star ingredient?

These cupcakes are reminiscent of their cookie counterpart – buttery and sweet with a hint of vanilla and plenty of chocolate chips. Paired with pistachios and topped with vanilla buttercream frosting and smoked sea salt, this is a dessert comforting enough to bring you back to your chocolate-chip-cookie-eating childhood, but with a nutty, savory twist that sets them apart from your ordinary chocolate chip experience.


Chocolate Chip + Pistachio Cupcakes
Inspired by Joy the Baker
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup milk
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¾ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below)
Additional pistachios for topping
Smoked sea salt (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a cupcake pan or use cupcake liners. With an electric mixer, cream the butter until it’s smooth. Gradually add the sugar and mix for about 3-4 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time and then add in the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir a bit of these dry ingredients into the egg mixture, a little at a time, alternating with the milk. Stir just until smooth. Fold in the chocolate chips and the pistachios, being careful not to overmix the batter.

Fill the cupcake tins about 2/3 full and then bake them for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack and then top with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below) and a few shelled pistachios. Top with a small pinch of smoked sea salt (optional).

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Gale Gand

1½ cups powdered sugar
¾ cup butter
1 tbsp milk
½ tsp vanilla extract

Using a mixer with a whisk attachment, mix together the sugar and the butter on low speed until the ingredients are blended together.

Add the vanilla and milk and beat on medium speed for another 1-2 minutes until the frosting is smooth and creamy. If the frosting is a bit too thick, add milk or cream until you achieve the desired consistency.


This post was originally featured by Bright, Bold & Beautiful.