Peppermint Bark Pudding Cookies

Are you guys all Christmas cookie-ed out yet?

Any other year, I might be right there with you, but since December began I’ve only baked maybe 2 or 3 times. It’s so unlike me! But between our trip and other random things we’ve had going on this month, it just hasn’t been a priority. Almost all of the sweets I’ve posted here recently I made way back in late October or early November. So, here we are with 4 days until Christmas and I finally decided it was now or never on the holiday baking. I’m heading out to buy a million pounds of butter later today and will be spending the entire weekend making up for lost time in my kitchen :)

Peppermint Bark Pudding Cookies

A few weeks ago I dragged Shane to Trader Joe’s to see what kind of fun holiday goodies we could find. Among other things (like Candy Cane Joe-Joe’s, Mini Candy Cane Cookies, Cookie Butter, and sweet potato fries (love these!)), a bag of peppermint bark baking pieces jumped into our cart. Have you seen them? If you’ve ever had peppermint bark, it’s essentially the same thing, just broken into smaller bits. I couldn’t resist just one bag, even though I had no idea what I was going to do with them.

There was a recipe right on the bag that I came this close to making, but instead I wound up adapting the pudding cookies I shared last month. I replaced a little of the flour with cocoa powder, used chocolate pudding rather than vanilla, and added some peppermint extract as well as the peppermint bark baking bits. Once baked, the cookies are really soft, and the peppermint flavor definitely shines through. I liked them best warm while the baking pieces inside were still gooey but I ate my fair share at room temperature too. I gave some thought to drizzling white chocolate over them and sprinkling crushed peppermint candies on top to lend a more festive look, but decided it might be overkill. They taste plenty festive even if they don’t necessarily scream holiday at first glance!

Peppermint Bark Pudding Cookies
adapted from Mini M&M Pudding Cookies

{Note: If you can’t find peppermint bark baking pieces, you could substitute mint chips, Andes baking chips, or even semisweet or white chocolate chunks. Or, make (or buy) peppermint bark and chop it into bite-size pieces!}

2 1/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (3.4 oz) package instant chocolate pudding mix
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1-1 1/2 cups peppermint bark baking pieces

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the pudding mix until combined and then add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla and peppermint extracts. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until combined. Mix in the peppermint bark baking pieces.

Using a small cookie scoop (mine measures about 1 1/2 inches across), portion the batter onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing the cookies about 2 inches apart. Gently press down on the balls of dough to flatten them slightly. Bake for about 10 minutes (rotating the baking sheets halfway through) or until the edges of the cookies are set. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for a few minutes then remove the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with all of the dough.

Makes about 4 dozen