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Peppermint Cookies – My Baking Addiction

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Soft and chewy peppermint cookies can be topped with cream cheese frosting or a chocolate ganache and a sprinkling of chopped peppermint candies. Make these with all-purpose flour or follow the alternate directions for a perfect gluten-free version!

Cream cheese frosted peppermint cookie and ganache topped peppermint cookie, both decorated with chopped candy canes, on a white plate with more cookies in the background.

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You know what I really love about this time of year? All the parties! I see them as opportunities to bake and share loads of cookies. I’m happy, the hosts are happy, and the guests certainly don’t seem to mind all the cookies, either.

One of my favorite flavors around Christmas is peppermint. I’m not really into candy canes but peppermint extract? I can’t get enough of it.

Chocolate and peppermint are often found together, like in peppermint mocha cookies, peppermint brownies, and chocolate peppermint cookies. But I wanted to make a peppermint cookie without the chocolate, basically as a carrier for cream cheese frosting.

Cookies are definitely my favorite holiday treat, especially when they’re covered in cream cheese frosting! There’s just something about them that I can’t resist.

But don’t worry, chocolate lovers, there’s an option for a chocolate ganache topping, too! 

This recipe is from Erin over at Texanerin Baking. You’re going to love it, especially with the gluten-free option so you can make these chewy cookies for all your loved ones!

Peppermint cookies topped with chocolate ganache and crushed candy canes on a wire rack.

FROSTED PEPPERMINT COOKIES

I love a nice chewy cookie. It’s one of the reasons I love my M&M cookies so much! It’s hard to beat a cookie that is soft and chewy all at the same time.

That was the texture I was going for when developing these peppermint cookies and I’m happy to say I was successful. The texture is just perfect, especially when paired with the cream cheese frosting.

Now don’t get me wrong. You could enjoy these cookies without the frosting. But honestly, what’s the fun in that?

I also tried out a mint-chocolate ganache topping for those of you who don’t like cream cheese. As someone who would happily live off of cream cheese frosting, I much preferred that version, but the ganache alternative is tasty, too!

Peppermint cookie dough being stirred with a spatula in a white mixing bowl.

HOW TO MAKE PEPPERMINT COOKIES

These peppermint cookies are pretty easy to make and are great to make ahead for a holiday party or gathering.

Gluten-free option

You can make these cookies with all-purpose flour or with a gluten-free flour mix. The two versions are equally delicious and nobody will miss the gluten!

Balls of peppermint cookie dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

If you are making the standard version, you will use 3 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour. If you are making the gluten-free version, you will use:

Mix the above ingredients together and use this in place of the all-purpose flour.

I know that the mix above only makes just a bit more than 3 cups, but I promise that it works in place of the 3 ¼ cups of all-purpose flour! 

Baked peppermint cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

How much peppermint extract should you use in cookies?

Peppermint extract is the main ingredient that gives these peppermint cookies their flavor. 

Be careful with this ingredient, though. Only add as much as the recipe states. This stuff is strong and adding too much could make your cookies taste more like toothpaste than anything else!

This recipe makes about 26 cookies and uses 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. If you want to add peppermint extract to another cookie recipe, I would recommend using no more than 1 teaspoon, especially if you plan to add more peppermint flavors on top in the form of frosting or candies.

Make sure you are using peppermint extract, too. 

I ran out of peppermint extract, found some mint extract (which I bought not realizing it was different from peppermint) in my pantry and don’t recommend using it in these cookies. It’s more spearminty than pepperminty. It’s just kind of odd.

Baked peppermint cookies cooling on a wire rack, set next to a bowl of chocolate ganache and a bowl of crushed candy canes.

What does cream of tartar do?

If you already glanced at the ingredient list, you might have noticed one ingredient that isn’t in a lot of cookie recipes: cream of tartar.

Cream of tartar is crystallized tartaric acid from the inside of wine barrels. It is white and powdery and can be found in the spice aisle at the grocery store.

When used in cookie recipes, cream of tartar helps make cookies chewy by creating air bubbles and preventing sugar from crystallizing too much. 

If you don’t already have some in your pantry, it’s worth picking up at the store to get that great chewy texture in these peppermint cookies!

Bowl of cream cheese frosting on a countertop next to mini candy canes.

Making this recipe

If you’re already making cookies like peanut butter blossoms or thumbprint cookies for the holidays, the process for these cookies isn’t all that different.

In a bowl, whisk together your desired flour – either all-purpose or the noted gluten-free mix – with the baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Set this aside.

Beat together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, vanilla, and peppermint extract. Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined.

Cream cheese frosted peppermint cookie with a bite taken out of it leaning against a white plate holding a second peppermint cookie.

Cover the dough and refrigerate it for at least 2 hours, then roll the dough into 1 ½-inch balls (they will weigh about 42 grams each).

These cookies spread quite a lot, so make sure to place them about 4 inches apart on lined baking sheets.

If you’re making the cookies with all-purpose flour, bake them at 350°F; if making the gluten-free cookies, bake them at 375°F. Both versions will need to bake for about 16-20 minutes.

Let these cookies cool completely on the baking sheet so they set properly. Once the cookies are cool, you can add your desired topping!

Wire rack filled with peppermint cookies frosted with cream cheese frosting and topped with crushed candy canes.

TOPPING OPTIONS

You can make either the cream cheese frosting or the chocolate ganache for these cookies. If you want to do some of each, simply halve both topping recipes.

I like using chopped candy canes or peppermint candies to decorate these cookies and make them even more festive looking.

You can also opt for decorating them with red, green, and/or white sprinkles!

If you’re using the cream cheese frosting, chill the frosted cookies for about 20 minutes before adding the candy canes or sprinkles. If you add them earlier, the colors will bleed into the frosting.

Two ganache-topped peppermint cookies on a white plate, with a wire rack of cookies in the background.

STORAGE 

Because of the toppings, make sure to store your peppermint cookies in the refrigerator. 

Place them in an airtight container, with pieces of parchment or wax paper between layers of the cookies, in the fridge for up to 4 days.

If you want to make this dough ahead of time, use my tips for how to freeze cookie dough. Add a couple of extra minutes to the cookie baking time if needed after freezing.

Ingredients

  • 3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour OR the gluten-free baking mix listed below
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract

For the gluten-free baking mix:

  • 2 cups white rice flour
  • ⅔ cup potato starch
  • ⅓ cup tapioca flour
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum

For the cream cheese frosting:

  • 12 ounces (1 ½ [8-ounce] packages) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup to 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 20 chopped candy canes

For the peppermint ganache:

  • ¾ cup whipping cream or heavy cream
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ⅜ teaspoon to ½ teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 20 chopped candy canes

Instructions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour or gluten-free baking mix, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt. Set the bowl aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, vanilla and peppermint extract at low speed until well combined. On low, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for about 2 hours or until firm. Then roll into 1 ½-inch (42 gram) balls.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350°F for the all-purpose flour version or 375°F for the gluten-free version.
  5. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Place the dough balls 4 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes or until lightly and evenly browned. Let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. While the cookies are cooling, prepare your desired topping.

If making the cream cheese frosting:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and butter until well combined.
  2. Gradually add in ¾ cup powdered sugar and then the peppermint and vanilla extracts and salt. Add more powdered sugar, to taste.
  3. When the cookies are cool, spread about 3 ½ teaspoons of frosting over each cookie.
  4. Chill the cookies for about 20 minutes (to harden the frosting a little, which will prevent the candy canes from bleeding) before decorating. Don’t chill the cookies too long or the frosting will be too hard for the candy canes to stick.
  5. Sprinkle with the candy cane pieces.

If making the ganache:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the cream just until hot, steamy and on the verge of simmering. Remove from the heat.
  2. Pour this over the chocolate chips, add ⅜ teaspoon peppermint extract and stir until all the chocolate chips are completely melted. Add more peppermint extract, if desired.
  3. Let cool for about 10-20 minutes or until almost room temperature and then spread 1 tablespoon of ganache over each cookie. Sprinkle with the candy cane pieces.

Notes

Refrigerate decorated cookies in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Nutrition Information

Yield 26

Serving Size 1 cookie

Amount Per Serving

Calories 337Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 9gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 5gCholesterol 53mgSodium 254mgCarbohydrates 44gFiber 1gSugar 26gProtein 6g

Nutrition calculated for cookies baked with all-purpose flour and topped with cream cheese frosting.


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