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

77 Comments

  1. These were good, but I had a tough time with the ganache the morning of the cookie exchange! They were pretty time intensive, and the candy cane topping was sticky…Next time I would just add a Hershey’s peppermint kiss and call it good.

  2. I was just looking over the Chocolate Hazelnut Thumbprints recipe from your recipe book, and then saw this recipe on the 75+ Christmas cookies list. The recipes are quite different. Are they supposed to be different types of cookies, or is this recipe an improvement over the previous one? The previous one didn’t use brown sugar and didn’t need to be chilled.

  3. Hi Sally,
    I’ve made these twice today, and each time the bottoms burned! Any suggestions? I baked the first batch for the time you said, and the second for 5 minutes less. The only ones that didn’t burn are the ones that are slightly under baked.

    1. Hi Margaret! It could be a matter of your baking sheet, oven, and/or oven placement. Line the baking sheets and try baking only 1 sheet at a time in the center of the oven. Check your temperature with an oven thermometer, too. I hope this helps!

  4. I’ve now made 2 batches of these cookies in the last week. They are safely tucked in our freezer until Christmas arrives. They are nothing short of perfect ….wonderful texture, the mint is not too over powering, they have a rich chocolate flavour & best of all easy to make!
    My modifications: I added a generous pinch of espresso powder to my dry mixture & used Dutch Process Cocoa.

  5. I want to try these but could I fil l them with Nutella instead of the ganache? I’ve never missed with one of your recipes, thank you!

      1. Thanks! I was Feeling lazy and was going to try a shortcut but I’ll try the ganache. I just finished baking the snowballs and now looking for a place to hide them from my husband! So good!

  6. Made 7 dozen of these cookies for a cookie exchange and they were the stars of exchange! I made the dough, shaped and refrigerated the night before. The ganache set up beautifully. I filled the cookies 30 minutes before the exchange and they were already pretty set. I didn’t do a trial run before the exchange bc I always trust your recipes implicitly! Thank you for all the work you do to make sure these recipes are perfect!

  7. Hi Sally, just wanted to ask what could be the reason the yield was only 19 cookies for me. Measured everything out in grams so I’m just scratching my head as to what might have happened. Regardless I’m still looking forward to finishing making this batch tomorrow!

  8. Omg, these are soooo good! The cookies are soft but sturdy and so flavorful. I knew you couldn’t go wrong with chocolate and peppermint, but combined with the soft ganache and crushed candy canes, these create a myriad of textures that is just amazing! Perfect holiday treat that are so pretty looking! Will be baking another batch soon, thank you Sally!

  9. Made these tonight and they were perfect! I didn’t have any peppermint extract so I left it out and still have a delicious soft chocolate cookie with perfect consistency chocolate ganache. I filled some of them with white chocolate ganache which was also so good! Thank you!

  10. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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.

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