These soft and thick chocolate peppermint thumbprints are a new favorite Christmas cookie. Combining chocolate cookies, chocolate peppermint ganache, and crushed candy canes, they’re undoubtedly festive and bound to disappear off cookie platters.
Welcome to day 2 in Sally’s Cookie Palooza!
We started my annual Christmas cookie countdown yesterday with Butter Cookies and I have an equally festive Christmas cookie recipe for you today, too.
These are Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints.
Tell me About Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
These chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies channel my peppermint bark cookies, Andes mint chocolate cookies, and chocolate cookies with candy cane buttercream with the same irresistible chocolate and peppermint flavor combination. They’re also:
- Adorable 2 bite cookies
- Thick + mega festive
- Super soft in the centers
- Filled with chocolate peppermint ganache
- Topped with crushed candy canes
We honestly COULD NOT STOP eating these. Besides the unbeatable texture and festive flavor, you’ll also appreciate that this Christmas cookie recipe comes together with basic kitchen ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, butter, and sugar. Love that.
How to Make Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
- Whisk the dry ingredients together.
- Cream the wet ingredients together.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
- Roll balls of dough + coat with sugar. Use a little less than 1 Tablespoon of dough for each (about 1 inch balls).
- Indent each cookie.
- Chill the indented dough.
- Fill with ganache.
I developed the base of this recipe from my chocolate crinkle cookies. The recipes are different because I needed a slightly sturdier cookie to hold the ganache inside. A higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar keeps the cookies extra soft and cocoa powder lends all the chocolate flavor in the dough. Remember the difference between dutch-process vs. natural cocoa powder? Use natural cocoa powder here.
Baker’s Tip: Chill the cookie dough AFTER rolling the dough balls in sugar and making indents. Why? Chilling cookie dough at this stage is the most important step. In my recipe testing, I found that chilling the dough before indenting made it a little too firm and difficult to work with. Chilling the dough after indenting was much easier. And if you chill the cookies like this (picture below), they’ll hold their shape much better when baked. Place the whole cookie sheet in your refrigerator for 2 hours or freezer for 1 hour.
Arrange the cold dough 2-3 inches apart on baking sheets, then bake.
My Indent Trick
This is my #1 trick for indenting thumbprints: Instead of using your thumb, use the end of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. This way you don’t dirty your thumbs or get dough under your nail AND you obtain a perfect uniform indent in each cookie. Are you a control freak/neat freak like I am? Then you’ll totally appreciate this hack.
I do the same thing with my caramel apple spice thumbprints.
Of course, you can still use your thumb if that’s easiest for you.
Bake Without the Filling
Unlike most thumbprint cookies where you bake the cookies WITH the filling inside, you actually bake today’s thumbprints WITHOUT the ganache filling inside. (Baked ganache is not a good idea!) Since the indented cookies are empty, they’re going to puff up in the oven and lose some of that thumbprint indentation. See photo on the left above.
Here’s what you do: When the cookies come out of the oven, grab the wooden spoon or rubber spatula again and press the center of the warm cookies down to make a deeper indent. You’re just reshaping the thumbprints here– very easy. Deeper indent = bigger pool of ganache. See photo on the right above.
Chocolate Peppermint Ganache
Do you remember when I taught you how to make chocolate ganache? We’re doing the same exact thing here! Chocolate ganache requires two ingredients:
- Heavy Cream
Chop chocolate into tiny pieces. Use chocolate labeled “baking chocolate” that’s sold as 4 ounce bars in the baking aisle right next to the chocolate chips. I prefer Ghirardelli or Bakers brands. TIP: The best tool for chopping hard chocolate is a large serrated knife. Pour warm cream over the chopped chocolate. Let it sit for a few minutes, then stir until thick and smooth. To make this ganache extra special, add a drop of peppermint extract. Start with only 1/8 teaspoon, then taste it. If you want more, add more. Peppermint extract is VERY potent and if you add too much, your ganache will taste like toothpaste.
The chocolate ganache will eventually set, making these chocolate peppermint thumbprints easy for packing, gifting, and traveling. It’s still creamy when you take that first bite, though– perfectly messy just like all the best Christmas cookies are. 🙂
If you can’t get enough peppermint cookies try these candy cane kiss cookies or peppermint mocha cookies next.
What is Sally’s Cookie Palooza?
Sally’s Cookie Palooza is my annual Christmas cookie countdown tradition. First starting in 2013, every December we countdown to Christmas with 10 new cookie recipes in a row. Over the next two weeks, I’m publishing 10 new cookie recipes. This is the biggest, most delicious event of the year! Sign up for instant updates and you’ll receive a free email alert whenever I publish a new recipe. 🙂
Click to see Sally’s Cookie Palooza over the years!
Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 14 minutes
- Total Time: 3 hours
- Yield: 30-32 cookies
- Category: Desserts
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: American
Combining chocolate cookies, chocolate peppermint ganache, and crushed candy canes, these chocolate peppermint thumbprints are extra festive and bound to disappear off cookie platters. Chill the shaped dough for at least 2 hours to help guarantee the cookies hold their shape.
- 1 and 1/2 cups (188g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
- 1/2 cup (41g) unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick; 115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar
- 2/3 cup (135g) granulated sugar, divided
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 2 teaspoons milk
- one 4 ounce semi-sweet chocolate bar (113g), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/4 cup crushed candy canes (2 large candy canes)
- Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, and 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar together on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk, and mix on low until combined. The cookie dough will be thick.
- Roll balls of dough, a little less than 1 Tablespoon each (about 1 inch balls), and roll each into remaining 1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar. Place dough balls onto a large lined baking sheet. Using your thumb or the end of a spatula (see post above), make an indent into each cookie. If you find that the balls are cracking when you make an indent, use your hands to push back together. (Some cracks are bound to happen as the cookies expand in the oven– see my photos. No worries there!)
- Chill the shaped cookies for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or 1 hour in the freezer (or up to 4 days in the refrigerator). Cover them if chilling for longer than 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove chilled and shaped cookies from the refrigerator. Divide between both baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2-3 inches apart. This recipe yields about 30 cookies, so you’ll have a 3rd batch with only a few cookies on the sheet.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges are set. The cookies will still look and feel a little soft. Remove from the oven. The indents will have lost some shape or have puffed up, so use the end of a spatula to make an indent again into the warm cookies.
- Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling with ganache.
- For the ganache: Place chocolate into a heat-proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it begins to gently simmer. (Do not let it come to a rapid boil– that’s too hot!) Pour over chocolate and let it sit for 2-3 minutes to gently soften the chocolate. Slowly stir until completely combined and chocolate has melted. Stir in the peppermint extract. Taste and add another drop if desired. (It’s potent so don’t go overboard!) Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before spooning into cookies.
- Spoon 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of ganache into each indentation. I fit about 3/4 teaspoon into each. Sprinkle ganache with crushed candy canes. Ganache will thicken inside the cookies and set on the tops after a few hours, but will still be creamy when you bite into the cookies.
- Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Store any leftover ganache in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can make and shape the cookie dough and chill it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days, as noted in step 4. Baked and filled (or unfilled) cookies freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.
- See my Chocolate Ganache post if you need more information on the ganache. I answer a lot of ganache FAQs there!
- Be sure to check out my top 5 cookie baking tips AND these are my 10 must-have cookie baking tools.
Keywords: peppermint, candy canes, Christmas cookies, chocolate
Reader Comments & Reviews
Made these for a party where peppermint is a controversial ingredient, so I opted for orange extract instead & topped with a bit of candied orange peel instead of mints – they were a hit! Will definitely keep this recipe in my faves!
My only hiccup was the thumbprints just totally disappeared during baking. Luckily I am a smarty & read Sally’s comments about this so I wasn’t surprised when they came out of the oven just as flat as any other cookie. I just used a teaspoon to make another indent right after they came out & voila! Good as new 🙂
You’ve done it again, Sally – thanks!!
The recipe was super easy to make however I could not find the oven temperature. I used the back of my 1/2 teaspoon metal measuring spoon to make indent , works great.
Hi Rosallie, the oven temperature is 350°F (180°C).
Why didn’t my cookies keep their shape in the oven??
Hi Sasha! Did they spread while baking? Make sure to start with proper room temperature butter and to chill the dough as directed. Here’s more tips to help keep cookies from spreading!
Made these today and they are wonderful! Cookie is firm, but when you bite in, it’s tender and fudgey. I think people over bake cookies…The ganache is beautiful, love when things seem fancy but are a breeze to make! This will be added to the Christmas cookie tray forever. Never had a Sally recipe fail!
I’ve never left a review before, but I have to for this cookie! It is SO GOOD. They have a slight crunch when you bite into them, but then they are soft and chewy on the inside. And the amount of peppermint is just right. Love love love!
Followed the recipe but by the time I added all of my dry ingredients the dough was incredibly crumbly instead of thick. Hoping it still works but that was disappointing
These are phenomenal! I made them for a Christmas cookie competition and won first place. My seven year old said they were, “the best cookies in the world”. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!
I recommend doubling this recipe because these go fast! I usually make 4-5 different varieties of cookies for the holidays, but my family ate these so quickly I barely had any to round out my gift tins. I use peppermint oil to taste instead of extract because that’s what I have on hand – they still turn out perfect.
These were perfect! So easy to make, but they look like they came from a bakery. And they are absolutely delicious.
Couldn’t make up my mind, wanted both, Chocolate Peppermint thumbprint, and Peppermint mocha cookie. Made the thumbprint, minus the peppermint extract, filled them with your Salted Carmel, added a pinch of sea salt on top. Wow, they are good!! Thanks for your wonderful recipes
Made these last night and they are FABULOUS! However, we forgot to add the 2 tsp of milk at the end. I’m wondering what that little bit of milk does for the recipe since they taste great without it also.
Hi Amy, we’re so glad these cookies were a hit! The milk helps thin out the cookies ever so slightly (although it is still a thick dough!)
Would the cookies face any issues if i don’t roll them with sugar?
Hi CT, You can skip this step if you wish without making any other changes.
I wanted to get a head start on Christmas cookie baking, so I looked through your cookie recipes, since all the ones I’ve tried have been delicious, and they turned out to be my mom’s favorite cookies. I made the full batch and froze 24 to save for Christmas. They have a nice, soft texture and flavor, and the ganache is delicious. I made each cookie dough ball 16 grams.
I made the dough and chilled it for 4 days. I put parchment paper between first and second layer. On the 4th day when I tried to take it out, it was very stiff and a few pieces broke. So I let it sit on the countertop for about 20 minutes.
Then I quickly rolled the broken pieces and made an indentation. However when it came out from the oven, it completely puffed up and looked just like a normal cookie, not a thumbprint cookie. There was no way I could salvage them.
So for the second tray of cookies, I put them in the freezer for a few minutes before baking. This time fortunately, the indentation was still there. So I used a spoon to press down carefully but some of the edges cracked completely. How is the chocolate ganache going to sit inside the thumbprint beautifully?
Hi Julie, I’m just seeing your comment/question now so my apologies for the delay responding. When I notice this happening with any thumbprint cookies I bake, I use this little trick: remove the cookies from the oven halfway through bake time, indent them with the end of a wooden spoon/rubber spatula, then return to the oven to finish baking. They shouldn’t crack when you make the indent since they aren’t finished baking yet.
Sally, these turned out delicious! The crumbly dough was a bit tricky. after coming out of the oven the cookies become very flat and out of shape. They didn’t look as good as yours but tasted delicious! I did add instant espresso
Hi i just made the dough and it was EXTREMELY sticky impossible to roll without adding cocoa (lighlty) on my hands, once I did that I was able to roll but had to keep adding little by little to my hands. What went wrong???
This recipe was delicious- so soft and peppermint. Only thing I switched: I didn’t want to make the ganache, so I pressed a peppermint Hershey kiss into the center before freezing for an hour. Baked them for 10-11 minutes and they’re delicious. Thanks Sally!
Great idea, Talley. Thank you so much for making these cookies!
These cookies are really tasty but I’ve tried making them twice now and both times they puffed up so much that they weren’t really thumbprints anymore. I couldn’t put Ganache in because there was nowhere for it to pool. I tried poking down the centers partway through baking as I read in the comments this was a possible solution, but they just stubbornly puffed up again.
Sorry for the trouble, Emily. How about drizzling them with the ganache instead?
These were the best cookies that I added to my Christmas cookie repertoire this year. Absolutely everyone loved them.
I made a “cookie bag” for my daughter-in-law with each set of ingredients in a separate container so that she would just have to assemble them because her and my son loved them so much.
The gift also included a link to sally’s baking addiction because Sally is amazing.
These are really good! Made them last night to store in the fridge for Christmas. I did try to make them smaller, about 2 tsp. of dough per cookie, but forgot to reduce the bake time to compensate, so they were a little hard. We do prefer a softer cookie, so I used my favorite trick and placed some white bread under the cookies in the container. They softened up nicely and the taste is a chocolate mint lover’s dream! Thanks Sally!
These look delicious, but unfortunately I only have access to semi-sweet chocolate “chips” (really meant for melting and coating, they are kind of waxy) or real pure chocolate cacao in a block that has no added sugar or anything and doesn’t dissolve well unless its boiled. Could I use one or the other for the ganache and still have it turn out? Also, it’s very warm and humid and I have a very hard time with things setting up here. Would one of those be able to be used in this recipe and it still set up? Thanks for any help you can give!
These came out rock hard! I actually even slightly reduced the amount of granulated because I’m not a fan of super sweet cookies and these are rolled in it, anyway. By the time they had cooled on the pan for five minutes to transfer to my cooling racks, they were already like rocks. I tried decreasing my bake time after the first batch, but no luck. So disappointing.
Wow, these are the best cookies I’ve made this season!! Thank you for your detailed recipe, Sally! I love how detailed you are. 🙂 I made these with my young kids, and they LOVED helping bake these festive treats! I’m also amazed at how delicious the ganache is! I’d never made it before this recipe, but will be using it more often! Thanks again!
These look delicious! If I want to make them in advance, can I fill them with ganache and peppermint candy and then freeze? Or would you recommend only filling the ganache at the last moment?
Hi Megan! Baked and filled cookies freeze well for up to 3 months.
After all these years of baking, it takes quite the cookie to get onto my Christmas cookie list and this one certainly fit the bill! Soft with just the right amount of chew and not overly sweet with a center of perfectly creamy ganache and peppermint crunch, these cookies are sophisticated enough to share in any group but simple enough to make batch after batch. Thank you for the recipe that I will be referring to for years to come! 🙂
This chocolate ganache filling is MARVELOUS! I made Sally’s Peanut Butter Jam Thumbprints and filled them with this ganache instead of jam. The results were heavenly. I omitted the peppermint extract and filled the cookies after they had baked and cooled. The ganache behaved just as Sally said and firmed up on top but remained a lusciously soft bite on the inside. Everyone needs to hold onto this recipe!
Hi Sally, so i’m going to make these today and i know that ganache needs to be stored in the refrigerator so do the cookies need to be kept in the refrigerator after filled as well? Thanks!
Hi El, These cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Made these for my father’s xmas cookies gift. I’m not a mint fan, however they smelled wonderfully. I received report that these cookies were lovely – perfect texture and delicious flavor. Sprinkling the candy cane pieces on top was a nice festive touch.
I followed the recipe exactly. They turned out great. A suitably fancy looking Christmas cookie. The ganache is so delicious. I didn’t make the dent large enough but next time I will use another reviewer’s suggestion and make the dent with a wine cork. I will definitely make these again.
P.S. Elsewhere on this site Sally recommends using silicone baking mats instead of parchment paper. After baking a LOT of cookies this season I’m definitely going to buy some.
Pro tip: I only realized these later on but I should have strained out the finer powder of the candy cane and used just the bigger bits; also should have only sprinkled them on right before the cookie exchange as the candy cane bits, including the bigger ones, melted one way or another
WOW!! These cookies are fabulous!! Definitely a winner and on my permanent Christmas cookie list. Everyone loved them and could not stop eating them. Great recipe!
A tip: I use a wine cork to make my thumbprint! It’s the perfect size!