I grew up with After-Eights at Christmas time, thinking they were the height of sophistication, as did many other children (possibly adults too) of the 1980s. This is my biscuit ode to them, with a tooth-achingly sweet peppermint icing.
You can find Anja’s book Advent: Festive German Bakes to Celebrate the Coming of Christmas now.
Schoko-Pfefferminztaler Chocolate Peppermint Biscuits
- 200 g (1 1⁄2 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 25 g (1 oz) unsweetened cocoa powder
- Pinch of fine sea salt
- 150 g (2⁄3 cup) unsalted butter, at room temp
- 80 g (6 1⁄2 tbsp) dark brown sugar
- 100 g (3⁄4 cup minus 1⁄2 tbsp) icing (confectioners’) sugar, sifted, plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 tablespoon water
- chocolate sprinkles, to decorate
- Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F and line a large baking sheet (or two) with non-stick baking parchment.
- Put the flour, cocoa powder and salt into a mixing bowl and, using a wooden spoon, mix thoroughly. Now add the butter and rub it in with your fingertips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and use your hands to bring it all together into a dough. (Alternatively, put all the ingredients into the bowl of a free-standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on a medium speed until everything comes together into a ball of dough.)
- Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll the dough out to 5mm/1/8in thick. Cut out biscuits using any shaped cookie cutters – I like to keep mine quite small, sort of two-bite-sized (see pages 258–9). Place on the prepared baking sheet(s), leaving 1cm/3/8in between each one. Re-roll the dough offcuts into more biscuits.
- Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes until firm to the touch. Leave to cool on the sheet(s) for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the biscuits are cool, mix the icing sugar, peppermint extract and water together in a small bowl until glossy and smooth. Using a teaspoon, put small amounts (1⁄2 teaspoon) of icing into the centre of the biscuit and gently spread it out until just short of the edges. Sprinkle each one with chocolate sprinkles. Allow the icing to set, for about 1–2 hours, before storing in an airtight container, where they will keep well for 2 weeks. They will be very crisp at first, but will soften over time.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Advent by Anja Dunk published by Quadrille, November 2021.