A Year-Round Guide to Franklin and Nantahala

Warming Sips | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert   ~ Warming Sips ~   [caption id="attachment_147362" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Rocky Road Hot Cocoa Yield: 4 servings.

Madison County Championship Rodeo

Warming Sips | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert   ~ Warming Sips ~   [caption id="attachment_147362" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Rocky Road Hot Cocoa Yield: 4 servings.

Rosemary and Goat Cheese Strata

Warming Sips | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert   ~ Warming Sips ~   [caption id="attachment_147362" align="alignnone" width="1140"] Photo Credit enabled[/caption] Rocky Road Hot Cocoa Yield: 4 servings.

20 Recipes for a Snow Day

Warming Sips | Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner | Dessert


~ Warming Sips ~


photograph by Matt Hulsman

Rocky Road Hot Cocoa

Yield: 4 servings.

½ cup dark chocolate chips (70% cacao)
½ cup pretzels, crushed
4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup marshmallow fluff
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
4 teaspoons raspberry jam

Microwave dark chocolate in 30-second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Dip rims of 4 coffee mugs into melted chocolate, then roll rims into crushed pretzels to evenly coat. Set aside.

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk, cocoa, semisweet chocolate, sugar, and salt, stirring constantly. Do not boil. When milk begins to bubble around edges, remove from heat.

In a small mixing bowl, fold together marshmallow fluff and peanut butter. Don’t overmix. Portion hot cocoa into each mug and top with marshmallow mixture and a small amount of jam. Serve immediately.

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Carolina Hot Toddy

Yield: 2 cups.

1 ¾ cups boiling water
¼ cup whiskey
Juice from ½ lemon (approximately 1/8 cup)
2 herbal tea bags
¼ cup honey
Optional: Cinnamon sticks & lemon wedges studded with cloves for garnish

Place tea bags in boiling water. Remove from heat and cover to steep for approximately 10 minutes.

Pour honey in bottom of a large mug. Pour hot tea over honey and stir to combine. Add lemon juice and liquor.

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Hot Buttered Rum

hot buttered rum recipe½ stick butter, softened
1 teaspoon honey
⅛ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 shot dark rum
Boiling water

Prepare the spiced butter by placing butter, honey, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a small bowl. Stir well to combine.

In a large coffee mug, add 1 tablespoon of the spiced butter. Add 1 shot of rum and boiling water. Stir well to combine until spiced butter is melted.

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Hot Chocolate

Yield: 4 servings.

2½ cups whole or reduced-fat 2% milk
1 cup 60% cacao chocolate chips or chunks
½ cup powdered milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Whipped cream or marshmallows (optional)

In a medium saucepan, heat milk to just before boiling. Reduce heat to low and whisk in chocolate. Continue whisking until chocolate has melted completely. Continue whisking, and add powdered milk and cornstarch until mixture is smooth and thick. If a thinner consistency is desired, add more milk. Garnish with whipped cream or marshmallows (optional).

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~ Breakfast ~


photograph by Matt Hulsman

Baked French Toast Casserole

Yield: 10 servings.

1 (12- to 14-ounce) loaf French, sourdough, or challah bread
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided
8 large eggs
2¼ cups whole milk
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure orange extract


⅓ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes


Fresh orange slices
Powdered sugar

Grease a 9 x 13-inch dish with butter or nonstick spray. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Spread half of the cubes into the prepared dish.

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until completely smooth. Beat in the powdered sugar and ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract until combined. Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture evenly on top of the bread. Layer the remaining bread cubes on top of cream cheese. Set aside.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, brown sugar, remaining vanilla, and orange extract until mixture is smooth. Pour mixture over the bread. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°. Remove dish from the refrigerator.

For the topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon. Cut in the cold cubed butter with a pastry blender or two forks. Sprinkle the topping over the soaked bread.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 to 55 minutes or until golden brown on top. Serve immediately with fresh orange slices and a dusting of powdered sugar.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Sweet Potato Hash with Sausage & Eggs

Yield: 4 servings. 

½ pound fresh ground pork sausage
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
2 green onions, sliced (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat and add sausage. Break up sausage in pan and cook until thoroughly browned. Remove sausage from skillet and place on paper towels to drain, reserving 2 tablespoons of sausage drippings in pan. Return skillet to the stove and add the sweet potatoes, onions, and peppers. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Sprinkle paprika, red pepper flakes, and salt over potato mixture and toss. Add the sausage and stir to combine.

Make 4 indentations, then crack the eggs into each space. Place the skillet in the oven and bake until eggs are cooked to preference (5 minutes for over-easy, 10 minutes for medium, and 15 minutes for firm). Remove skillet from oven and garnish with sliced green onions.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Maple-Pecan Coffee Cake

Yield: 6 servings.


½ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup pecans, chopped
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Coffee Cake:

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup light brown sugar
½ cup pecans, chopped
½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup whole milk
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon maple extract (can be found at specialty kitchen stores)
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
8 ounces sour cream, at room temperature


1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons maple syrup

For the crumble: In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, pecans, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well using a fork. Use fork to stir while you pour in melted butter until a crumb-like texture forms. Break up any large crumbs with fork.

For the coffee cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Prepare an 8-inch square pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, and pecans. In a small bowl, stir together the maple syrup, vegetable oil, milk, eggs, and extracts. Stir the sour cream into the wet ingredients until combined.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, then pour in the wet ingredients. Gently stir until just combined. Do not overmix. Spoon half of the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of the crumble. Spread the remaining batter over the crumble. Sprinkle with the remaining crumble.

Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes.

For the icing: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar and maple syrup until a thick, pourable icing forms. Drizzle icing over warm cake. Cut into squares and serve. Store leftovers, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Baked French Toast with Blueberry Crunch

Yield: 6 servings.

2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large loaf French bread, cut into 2-inch cubes (day-old preferred)
6 eggs
2 cups half-and-half
2 teaspoons cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, cut into cubes

Blueberry Topping:

½ cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
½ cup maple syrup
1½ cups crushed corn flakes
¼ cup powdered sugar (for garnish)

Lightly spread 2 tablespoons of softened butter in a 9 x 13-inch casserole dish, making sure to get all four corners of the pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, and salt.

Place half of the bread cubes in prepared dish. Top with half of the cream cheese cubes. Add remaining bread cubes and top with remaining cream cheese. Pour egg mixture over bread cubes, pressing down so that the bread is completely soaked by the egg mixture.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, add blueberries and maple syrup. Sprinkle sugar and cornstarch over blueberries and toss so they are evenly coated. Spread blueberries evenly over bread mixture. Cover casserole with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil; sprinkle corn flakes over the top. Bake an additional 20 to 30 minutes or until center is firm and cereal is crispy.

Let cool slightly and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve with maple or blueberry syrup.

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~ Lunch ~


photograph by Matt Hulsman

Tomato Basil Soup

Yield: 6 cups.

1 cup sweet onions, chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chicken stock
1 (35-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons brown sugar
¼ cup basil pesto
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
Croutons (optional)

In a stockpot, add olive oil and stir in onions. On medium heat, cook onions for 5 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes, and tomato paste, and bring to a boil. Add garlic, salt, and brown sugar. Cover pot and simmer for 10 minutes. In small batches, add soup to a blender and blend to smooth consistency. Return soup to the pot and add basil pesto. Simmer for 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and croutons.

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Grilled Pimento Cheese Sandwich

8 slices sourdough bread
1 1lb thick cut bacon
Bunch fresh basil
Red tomatoes

Pimento cheese:

¾ lb cheddar cheese
2 red pimentos (or ¼ cup jarred pimentos)
½-¾ cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper

Dice the pimentos and toss in olive oil. Roast for 20 minutes or until tender at 425 degrees.

In a food processor combine cheese, mayo, red peppers, and spices. Pulse until combined, adding more mayo as necessary until pimento cheese is smooth.

Cook bacon and set aside. Drain off most of the drippings, leaving some in the pan.

Smear each piece of bread with cheese and layer bacon, sliced tomatoes, and basil on each sandwich. Assemble sandwiches and cook in bacon drippings for 2-3 minutes per side. Serve hot.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Chicken & Rice Soup with Mushrooms

Yield: 6 servings.

Meat from 1 roasted chicken, chopped (approximately 2 cups)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup basmati rice
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat the oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for 5 minutes or just until the celery is tender and the onion is translucent.

Add the rice, mushrooms, thyme sprigs, and chicken broth to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Remove the thyme and discard.

Add the chopped chicken, and lemon juice to the pot. Season with pepper and additional salt as needed. As soup thickens, add water to desired consistency.

Stir in the parsley and cook for a couple more minutes before serving.

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baked potato soup recipe

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Stuffed Baked Potato Soup

Yield: 8 servings.

1 pound thick-cut sliced bacon
½ cup chopped yellow onions
4 russet potatoes, baked and peeled
2⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
3 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 (8-ounce) container sour cream
6 chives, chopped

In a skillet, cook bacon until crispy. Remove bacon from skillet and place on paper towels to drain. On medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of bacon drippings to stockpot or Dutch oven. Stir in onions and sauté for 5 minutes.

Cut baked potatoes into 1-inch cubes and set aside. Chop cooked bacon and set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour and milk. Pour milk and flour mixture into hot skillet with cooked onions. Stir until milk thickens. Add chicken stock, salt, pepper, and 1½ cups of cheese. Whisk ingredients until cheese has melted. Add sour cream and stir. Add potatoes and simmer for 10 minutes. Garnish with bacon, cheese, and chives.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili Recipe

photograph by Matt Hulsman

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Yield: 6 servings.

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pound lean ground beef
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons molasses
2 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Sour cream (optional, for garnish)
Green onion, chopped (optional, for garnish)

Heat olive oil in a heavy stockpot or Dutch oven. Add onions and sweet potatoes, and sauté until onions are translucent. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add ground beef to pan and cook until browned. Add salt, chili powder, cumin, and ground chipotle pepper. Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, molasses, and chicken stock, and cook, uncovered, on medium heat for 10 minutes.

Add beans, sweet potatoes, onions, and cayenne pepper. Simmer 10 more minutes. Serve with sour cream and green onion as garnish.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Bean & Vegetable Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 large (28-ounce) can or 2 small (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
Sliced avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream, and/or shredded Cheddar cheese (optional, for toppings)

In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm olive oil until shimmering. Add onion, pepper, carrots, celery, and ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and onion is translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon, and brown sugar. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and their juice, drained beans, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, for 30 minutes.

Remove chili from heat and discard bay leaf. Add cilantro or parsley, stir to combine, and then mix in vinegar, plus more to taste. Add salt to taste. Portion chili into individual bowls and serve with toppings of your choice — or try adding chili to a baked potato.

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~ Dinner ~


photograph by Matt Hulsman

Slow-Cooker Cheese Fondue

Yield: 8 servings.

2 cups Swiss cheese, grated
2 cups Gruyère cheese, grated
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons Madeira wine
Juice of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, smashed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 (1-pound) loaf Italian bread, cut into 2-inch cubes
Fondue forks or long wooden skewers

In a medium bowl, toss Swiss and Gruyère cheeses with flour. Add the cheese mixture, wines, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to a slow cooker.

Cover, turn the slow cooker on high, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove garlic and stir. Re-cover and cook for 45 minutes more on medium or low, stirring every 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and smooth. Be careful not to overcook. Turn the slow cooker to warm and serve the fondue with bread cubes.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Brunswick Stew

Yield: 8 servings.

4 tablespoons bacon drippings or 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 (15-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes (undrained)
4 cups chicken stock
½ cup hickory-flavored barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 pound smoked pulled pork
1 pound roasted chicken breast, shredded
1 cup frozen white or yellow corn
1 cup frozen lima beans
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Add bacon drippings or oil to a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes; do not let garlic burn.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juice, chicken stock, barbecue sauce, Worcestershire, brown sugar, cayenne, pork, chicken, corn, lima beans, salt, and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with cornbread or saltines.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Hearty Chicken Stew

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 medium carrots, sliced into ½-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
5 cups chicken stock, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
4 fresh thyme sprigs
6 fingerling potatoes, quartered
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over high heat. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until brown on all sides, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Add carrots, celery, and onion to the Dutch oven and cook until onion begins to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly to keep garlic from burning. Add ½ cup chicken stock while stirring and scraping bottom of pot to loosen browned bits.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour and ½ cup stock; add to the pot. Stir in chicken and remaining 4 cups stock. Add bay leaf and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 25 minutes, partially covered.

Add potatoes and cook, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in parsley and discard bay leaf before serving.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

Beef & Barley Mushroom Stew

Yield: 6 servings.

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pounds beef chuck, cut into chunks
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 pound button or cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 quart beef broth
3 cups water
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
2 cups pearl barley, uncooked
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 stalks celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Black pepper
Fresh chopped parsley (for garnish)

In a large, thick-bottomed pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add enough pieces of the beef to sear without crowding the pot. Salt the meat liberally and use tongs to turn the pieces so all sides get brown. Once the beef chunks are seared on all sides, remove and set aside in a bowl.

Use a wooden spoon to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the onions and cook on medium-high heat. Sprinkle a little salt over the onions as they cook. Lower the heat to medium and cook the onions until they begin to brown, 5 to 6 minutes.

When the onions have lightly browned, mix in the mushrooms and celery. Increase the heat to high. Cook the mushrooms and celery until they release their water, about 2 to 3 minutes.

Return beef to pot and stir in marjoram, thyme, and garlic. Add stock and water, scraping any bits from the bottom of the pot. Cover the pot and simmer on low for 1 hour.

Stir in barley and carrots and continue to simmer, covered, for 40 to 50 minutes. Top each serving with black pepper and fresh parsley, or stir in these ingredients just before serving.

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~ Dessert ~


photograph by Matt Hulsman

Snow Cream

Yield: About 4 cups.

1 cup milk, evaporated milk, half-and-half, or cream
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 to 12 cups pristine snow

Whisk together the milk, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl and refrigerate while you get the snow. Bring in more snow than you think you’ll need, because it often melts more than you expect it will. Stir snow into the milk mixture until it reaches the consistency of an extra-thick milkshake.

Variation: Replace the milk and sugar with a chilled can of sweetened condensed milk or you can check out our video with more options.

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photograph by Matt Hulsman

White Chocolate & Peppermint Cookies

Yield: 2 dozen cookies.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons peppermint extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
½ cup crushed candy cane pieces (5 candy canes)
4 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt.

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, beat butter for 1 minute on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar, and mix on medium speed until fluffy and light in color. Add egg, vanilla extract, and peppermint extract. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet until combined. The cookie dough will be very thick. Add white chocolate chips and crushed candy canes, then mix for about 5 seconds until combined. Cover dough tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow to sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.

Roll dough into individual balls, about 1½ tablespoons each. Dough may be crumbly.

Bake for 12 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Allow to cool for 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Microwave chopped white chocolate in 20-second increments, stirring after each until completely melted. Use tines of a fork to drizzle over cooled cookies. Store in an airtight container.

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This story was published on Dec 27, 2021

Our State Staff

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