Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

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.

chocolate peppermint thumbprints

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.

chocolate peppermint thumbprints with candy canes

Tell me About Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

These chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies channel my peppermint bark cookies 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.

chocolate peppermint thumbprint cookies

How to Make Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together.
  2. Cream the wet ingredients together.
  3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.
  4. Roll balls of dough + coat with sugar. Use a little less than 1 Tablespoon of dough for each (about 1 inch balls).
  5. Indent each cookie.
  6. Chill the indented dough.
  7. Bake.
  8. 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 and natural cocoa powder? Use natural cocoa powder here.

chocolate cookie dough rolled in sugar

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.

chocolate thumbprint cookies before baking

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.

chocolate thumbprint cookies after baking

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 ganache for chocolate thumbprints

chocolate peppermint thumbprints

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:

  1. Heavy Cream
  2. Chocolate

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. 🙂

chocolate peppermint thumbprints

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!

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chocolate peppermint thumbprints

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 14 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 30-32 cookies
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

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.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (185g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1/2 cup (42g) 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

Ganache

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. Whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!)
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before filling with ganache.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Cookies stay fresh covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. 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.
  2. See my Chocolate Ganache post if you need more information on the ganache. I answer a lot of ganache FAQs there!
  3. 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

58 Comments

  1. These are so cute. I really like chocolate and mint.

    I would use a melon baller to make the indents. The small size should be perfect. I would never get them the same size otherwise. Ha!

  2. I never thought to make “chocolate” thumbprint cookies. Definitely will be making these. Thank you Sally for another great recipe.

  3. I love the chocolate cookies and the ganache, but am not a huge fan of peppermint desserts. Any substitute for the peppermint in these cookies Sally?

  4. Oh no, Sally, it’s a snow day here in Boston….and you have completely ruined my plans to have a productive morning! Not going out in the mess to buy candy canes, but I think these cookies will be just fine without them; my kids don’t need to know, right?????!!! I suppose I could fill them and top them with candy canes tomorrow- just melt the ganache slightly with a blow dryer? (Assuming there are any left!) What do you think?

    1. They are certainly just as good without the candy canes! You will still get the peppermint flavor from both the cookie dough and the ganache from the peppermint extract. Enjoy your snow day!

  5. YAY!!!! I love this tradition and these cookies look so festive and yummy. They are on my list already and I can’t wait to see what the remainder of this week brings. Thanks , Sally!

  6. Will definitely do this! My kids aren’t too crazy about peppermint so I’ll skip that and make it all chocolatey. Thx for the recipe!

  7. In the last picture you have your cookies on a serving plate and I love it! Could you tell me where you got the plate from? BTW I am making these cookies today because they look outstanding!

  8. This recipe looks AWESOME!!!!! In my opinion, peppermint is chocolate’s BFF, and I seriously cannot get enough of the combination. I’m definitely going to make these for our connect group tomorrow! 😀 I can’t wait to try them.

  9. I haven’t made the thumbprints yet but I’m going to. Also, I would like to make them in lemon leaving out the cocoa and using your delicious lemon curd instead of ganache. Would leaving out the cocoa be a problem or should I replace it with something else?

    1. Hi Dusty! I don’t recommend it. And unfortunately, swapping flour for cocoa powder isn’t always a 1:1 switch either. If you have a copy of my cookbook Sally’s Cookie Addiction, I have a thumbprint cookie recipe with lemon curd in there!

  10. I just made the cookies from yesterday and today. My chocolate cookies flattened out like a pancake. Any suggestions. I chilled for 2 hours before I baked and my egg and butter were room temperature.

      1. Thank you so much. I remade them and they came out perfect. I figured out what I did wrong. I added all of the sugar to the cookie dough instead of splitting it up . My mistake. They are delicious.

  11. It’s me, the newbie, back with today’s question: for cookies like these, it seems that a cookie scoop would give a consistent size. Is there a reason that you suggest using a measuring spoon? These cookies came out pretty well (I posted to Instagram) but they still spread a little (I use your warm microwave method to get the butter to room temperature). I’ll try the next batch using butter that warms up on the counter; if that doesn’t help, I think I will change brands. I know that some brands vary in water content, even among brands of “American” butter.

    1. You can definitely try using a cookie scoop, but I always have trouble finding a 1 Tablespoon size (either too small or too large!). You want 1 scant Tbsp.

  12. I would like to make these cookies tonight but have half and half in the fridge. Will that work for the ganache. Thank you .

    1. Hi Patty! Heavy Cream or Heavy Whipping Cream will work– “whipping cream” without “heavy” in the name isn’t thick enough.

  13. SO GOOD!!! highly recommend. we didn’t do the candy cane for the topping because we didn’t have any in the house and they were still so good!

  14. Made these last night and covered them in Saran Wrap. Unfortunately the peppermint chips melted- so that’s my tip….don’t cover them in Saran Wrap! I spruced them up with fresh peppermint chips from the candy canes, while not as pretty as they were last night still delicious.

  15. I made these cookies yesterday and they were amazing! So fun to make, cute, and delicious! The only thing I would change is the amount of peppermint extract. I LOVE peppermint, so I’d like it to be a little stronger, but that’s just a personal preference! This recipe is perfect in itself. For those who really love peppermint, I’d suggest increasing the peppermint in the dough to 3/4-1 teaspoon (depending on how strong you like it), and increasing the peppermint in the ganache to 1/4 teaspon or perhaps even 1/4 + 1/8, as I did the 1/4 teaspoon and still would’ve liked a teensy bit more peppermint. But overall, this recipe is wonderful and I’ll definitely be making it again! I can’t wait to try your gingerbread sandwich cookies next 😀

    1. So happy you loved these, Erin! Thanks for your feedback 🙂 Next time definitely add a little more peppermint extract if you really love peppermint flavor!

  16. Hi Sally,

    Last year a woman in my home schooling co-op made your lace cookies for our Christmas party. They weren’t that pretty, but I decided to taste one AND MY MIND WAS BLOWN. She said she wasn’t a baker, but loved your site and it was super helpful when I asked for the recipe. That started a year long obsession with your blog and I!! I have made so many things and your name is a household topic. Anytime I make something new, my 5 and 7 year old ask me, “Is this one of Sally’s?” When we had our Christmas party tonight, I brought these cookies because my 7 year old loves chocolate and peppermint. These were a hit! But I had to let you know that as we were all walking in, we were looking at each other’s plates of goodies, and I recognized your mocha peppermint cookies. I asked, “are those a Sally recipe?” My friend replied yes, and two other friends jumped in and said they also used your recipes!! So unknowingly we had 4 of 11 desserts from your blog at our party which of course meant it rocked!! I thought it might make you smile to know that

    Thank you for all your wonderful recipes!

    1. That is too funny and yes, definitely brings a smile to my face! I’m so happy to be part of so many bakers’ holidays each year!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Sarah. I appreciate it!

  17. Hi Sally – I just made these and followed all the steps in the recipe exactly. Unfortunately, my cookie, while overall had great flavor, was a bit dry. Any ideas on why? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Hi Sara! Sounds like the cookies may have been over-baked. They should still be pretty soft and moist. If you decide to try the recipe again, bake for 1-2 minutes less. The ganache in your cookies, however, should moisten them a bit.

  18. Omgosh Sally. I just finished eating TWO of these cookies. I had to put them away and walk out of the kitchen cause I wouldn’t have stopped. LOL! I baked them yesterday but made the ganache a few minutes ago. I love peppermint so even though I only made half of the recipe I did land out putting 1/8 of a tsp in it. I did start off with less because of how strong it can be but I just went for the full amount. I’m going to make these again next week (in the past few days I’ve made too many things that I’m losing out of places to put them, lol). I’m about to look up your recipe for the cookies that taste like the Peppridge (sp?) farm ones so I can make those at the same time. Thanks yet again for another great recipe… xoxo

  19. Just finished making these and I so wish I had doubled the recipe! These should be outlawed they are that good! The chocolate and peppermint together-oh, my goodness!!! These will go on my list for next year too!!

  20. Hi Sally! I love your recipes. Would you recommend using the same technique of rolling the dough before chilling for you raspberry almond thumbprints? I like this idea a lot as that dough is sometimes hard to work with right out of the fridge.

  21. Delightful cookies. Light from the peppermint, but rich from the chocolate at the same time. They have 3 textures: crunchy, creamy, and chewy and are so adorable, festive, and addictive! ❤️

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