Isn’t it interesting how every language has at least a few words that defy translation? (Like “fun” or “bromance” in English.) Recently I read this article about the Danish concept of “hygge” (“HYU-gah”), a tough-to-pin-down notion of coziness, well-being, or togetherness. It seems that any experience that evokes these feelings of comfort–coming home to a warm house on a cold night, savoring a candlelit dinner, snuggling in a cozy sweater–qualifies as hygge. In other words, hygge is the feeling of Christmas. The article theorizes that Danes’ cultural emphasis on this concept is a key factor in its consistently ranking as the happiest country on earth.
One of my favorite hygge-inducing activities at Christmastime is baking. I have happy memories of making spritz cookies with my mom every year using this contraption that looks more like an instrument of torture than a baking tool.
Baking for my loved ones, knowing I’m providing them with a special treat at Christmastime, continues to be a joy for me during the holiday season. So when I manage to pull off a really delicious, visually appealing confection like these mint chocolate candy cane cookies, I’m a happy Christmas camper. These require a little extra effort than the standard mix-and-bake drop cookies, but the presentation (and the taste) are worth it! I made a batch and froze it a few weeks ago and our family is still enjoying them one by one out of the freezer–I think we may even like them better cold. Something about the mint flavor’s inherent chilliness just makes it work.
Wishing you a very merry Christmas filled with whatever brings you hygge!
1 c. butter, softened
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. peppermint extract
2 c. all-purpose flour
2/3 c. cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 c. mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1 c. crushed candy cane
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract until light and fluffy. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; stir into the butter mixture until blended. Mix in 1 c. mini chocolate chips. Drop by rounded Tablespoons onto a greased baking sheet.
3. Bake 10-11 minutes or until just set. Cool 10 minutes.
4. In a small bowl, microwave remaining 1 c. mini chocolate chips at 20 second intervals until melted. Pour melted chocolate into a squeeze bottle and drizzle in a zig-zag pattern over cookie tops. (Alternatively, if you don’t have a squeeze bottle, dredge a fork through the melted chocolate and drizzle over cookies that way.) Sprinkle with crushed candy cane. Refrigerate until set, about 20 minutes.
Makes 3-4 dozen.