Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies


Peppermint Shortbread Cookies are a fun twist on a classic recipe. Made with butter and sugar (the way a shortbread cookie should!), and topped with a chocolate peppermint ganache icing, these cookies are a must-make for the holiday season.

five shortbread cookies with chocolate icing on a gray plate

Every holiday cookie spread needs something with chocolate peppermint in it, and I vote for these Peppermint Shortbread Cookies. 

…Speaking of holiday cookie spreads, make sure to include my vegan ginger cookies and these melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies as well.

Now, back to these shortbread cookies. They’re not exactly healthy – nope – but they are very delicious and taste like a classic shortbread cookie, but with the addition of peppermint extract and candy cane pieces on top. 

While I often try to make healthier versions of baked goods, I figured December is the perfect time of year to really indulge. These cookies are light in texture, and perfect for anyone who adores the chocolate peppermint combination.

Recipe features

  • They’re made with butter, powdered sugar, all purpose flour, and a little peppermint extract.
  • They’re topped with a rich chocolate ganache icing.
  • Don’t forget the crushed candy cane pieces on top! While they’re technically optional, they add a really nice texture to the cookie and give it a little more peppermint flavor.
round cookie on parchment paper

Ingredient notes:

  • Butter - You can use regular butter or dairy-free to keep these cookies vegan; just make sure the butter is unsalted. 
  • Vanilla - Use vanilla extract, not vanilla flavoring. 
  • Peppermint - The recipe calls for one teaspoon, but feel free to use a little more/less depending on how peppermint-y you want the cookies to be.
  • Powdered sugar - No substitutions; necessary to obtain the correct texture.
  • All purpose flour - I don’t recommend using another type of flour. However, you can probably use gluten free 1:1 all purpose flour to keep these gluten free.
  • Dark chocolate - You’re going to need one cup of high quality chopped dark chocolate; I used 70% and it was perfect. 
  • Coconut milk - I almost always use full fat canned coconut milk; I do recommend using canned coconut milk and not coconut milk from a carton.
  • Candy cane pieces - Optional, but they do add more texture to the cookies. 

Step-by-step instructions

Step 1: Cream the butter. Add the softened butter, along with the vanilla and peppermint extract, to a large bowl and cream them together for about 30 seconds. Then, add the powdered sugar and stir to combine.

Step 2: Add dry ingredients. Next, add the salt and flour to the bowl and continue whisking with a stand or electric mixer until everything is combined. 

Step 3: Refrigerate the dough. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, which will allow the dough to firm up, which is necessary in order to be able to roll out the dough. 

cookie dough in a large glass bowl

Step 4: Make the ganache. Add the chopped chocolate to a bowl and set aside. Heat the coconut milk and peppermint in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it reaches the slightest simmer, pour the milk over the chocolate and let it sit for 5 minutes. Then, use a spoon to slowly stir everything together until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Let the ganache sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour, which will allow it to thicken and make it spreadable.

Step 5: Create the cookies. Flour a clean surface or a silpat mat and coat your hands in flour too. Remove the bowl from the refrigerator and use your hands to gather up the dough and place it onto the floured surface (the dough may seem a little hard at first, but your hands will quickly soften it). 

Use a rolling pin to roll out the dough until it’s about ½” thick. Use a circle cookie cutter to create 20 cookies (you’ll most likely have to re-roll the dough a few times), placing them directly onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Use a fork to poke holes onto the tops of them. 

rolled out cookie dough with a round cookie cutter on top

Step 6: Bake. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the cookies at 350° for 10 minutes. Wait a few minutes, then use a spatula to carefully remove them and transfer them to a cooling rack. Wait for the cookies to cool before icing them.

unbaked and baked cookies on a baking sheet and on a cooling rack

Step 7: Ice the cookies. Once the ganache is the correct texture (firm but still spreadable), place a dollop of ganache on top of each cookie. Then, use the back of a spoon or a knife to smooth it out. Sprinkle candy cane pieces on top and enjoy! 

Tips and FAQs

  • Want to keep these peppermint shortbread cookies vegan? Simply use vegan butter and vegan chocolate and you’re good to go!
  • If you don’t own a circle cookie cutter, try using the bottom of a glass instead. 
  • If you don’t want to use candy cane pieces on top, try sprinkling more chopped chocolate or even sea salt instead.
  • Make sure to FINELY chop the chocolate for the ganache so it melts properly and creates a smooth icing-like consistency.
  • The ganache will harden as it sits, so I recommend letting it sit at room temperature for about an hour or a little longer. You want it to be spreadable (like icing), so not too thin but not too thick either. 

Do you have to chill the cookie dough?

Yes! Otherwise, the dough will be too soft and sticky to roll out. Refrigerating the dough for just 30 minutes makes a huge difference, so I don’t recommend skipping this step. 

Can they be made vegan?

Sure, it’s easy! Just make sure to use unsalted vegan butter (like Earth Balance) and vegan-friendly dark chocolate for the ganache.

Storage

  • Room temperature: Keep baked cookies in a sealed container on the kitchen counter for up to 5 days.
  • Refrigerator: Alternatively, you can store shortbread cookies in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
  • Freezer: The final storage option is to freeze them. Place cookies in a sealed freezer-safe bag and into the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow the cookies to come back to room temperature before serving. 
shortbread cookies topped with chocolate icing and candy cane pieces

More holiday dessert recipes

If you made this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and star rating below. Thanks!

five shortbread cookies with chocolate icing on a gray plate
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Chocolate Peppermint Shortbread Cookies

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies are a fun twist on a classic recipe. Made with butter and sugar (the way a shortbread cookie should!), and topped with a chocolate peppermint ganache icing, these cookies are a must-make for the holiday season.
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Diet Vegetarian
Keyword peppermint cookies, shortbread cookies
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 20 cookies
Calories 204kcal
Author Erin

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter softened
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

for the ganache:

  • 1 cup dark chocolate finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk canned
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract optional (use for more peppermint-y flavor)
  • 2 candy canes chopped, for garnish

Instructions

  • Start by creaming the butter, vanilla and peppermint together in a large bowl for 30 seconds, then add in the powdered sugar and stir to combine. Last, add the salt and flour and whisk until mixture is smooth. Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • While the dough is firming up, make the ganache: place the chocolate into a bowl and set aside. Next, heat the coconut milk and peppermint in a small saucepan over medium heat. Just as it begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour the milk over the chocolate.
  • Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, then use a spoon to stir until the chocolate has melted and the ganache is creamy. Set the bowl aside at room temperature for about 1 hour, which will allow it to firm up. You want it to be thick but still spreadable.
  • Now, remove the dough from the refrigerator; it may seem really stiff at first, but your hands will soften it (trust me!). At this point, you should preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Flour a clean surface or silpat mat, then use your hands to grab the dough from the bowl and place it on the surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it's 1/2" thick, then us a round cookie cutter to cut 20 cookies out (you will have to re-roll the dough a few times).
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper, then place the cookies onto it. Use a fork to poke a couple of holes on top of each one, then place the baking sheet into the oven and bake the cookies for 10 minutes. Leave them on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then use a spatula to remove them and transfer them to a cooling rack. Wait for the cookies to cool before icing them.
  • For the icing: place a dollop of ganache in the center of each cookie, then use a knife to spread it out. Sprinkle with chopped candy cane pieces (or more chopped dark chocolate) and enjoy!

Notes

*Calories are per cookie and are an estimation
*To make vegan: use vegan butter and vegan-friendly chocolate; to make gluten free: use gluten free 1:1 all purpose flour 

Nutrition

Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 33mg | Potassium: 89mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 287IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 2mg

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