It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
Though oddly enough – last year it felt like work slowed down during the holidays, but this year things have been getting crazy busy! I like to use baking as a stress reliever, but sometimes I don’t have the time to whack away at a big lump of bread dough or frost and decorate dozens of cupcakes. Sometimes, it’s almost midnight and I just want to whip something up real quick to bring to a meeting tomorrow.
Enter the cake mix cookie, ubiquitous on baking blogs everywhere! I love sharing the basic recipe with everyone I know because these cookies are the easiest way for nonbakers to start baking: just one box cake mix any flavor, 2 eggs, 3/8 cup oil, and any mix-ins that you want to throw in! The flavor combinations are endless, the recipe is foolproof, and you can have a few dozen cookies cooling in an hour. You can even make these gluten free using gluten free cake mix!
I love baking from scratch, but the nice thing with such a versatile and foolproof base recipe is that I can focus on coming up with creative flavor combinations instead of having to factor the chemical balance of ingredients. Lemon cake mix + blueberries? Chocolate cake mix + mini peanut butter cups? Funfetti cake mix + chopped Oreos? YUM. Sometimes I experiment afterward on how to make some of my favorites from scratch, but honestly there’s something special about the texture of cookies made from cake mix that’s just oh so good just as is – slightly crisp on the outside, gooey-soft on the inside…just the way I like them!
My coworkers are very familiar with my cake mix cookies and always vocal with feedback on which flavor combos are their favorite. (Tip: anything involving Oreos is always popular 😉 ). I’ve had this idea for Peppermint Mocha cookies in my head for some time now, but wanted to wait at least until after Thanksgiving to set the mood. Using a chocolate cake mix base, I chopped up these super addictive candy-cane flavored Hershey kisses and pressed on top some Nestle Sno-Caps (nonpareils chocolate chips) for aesthetics and texture. These were such a hit that I made them two times over again in the same week!
I took a day this week to visit Philly, where I went for undergrad – of all the coincidences, my sorority Sigma Psi Zeta is currently having a multi-day cookie and hot chocolate fundraiser so of course I had to stop by their table to drop off some of these cookies. Proceeds will be going to buy holiday gifts for a family in need through the Adopt-A-Family program! So if you happen to be in town next week, stop by Locust Walk in University City (around 34th and Locust) to grab some of these cookies and donate however much you wish 🙂
Peppermint Mocha Cake Mix Cookies
makes 2-3 dozen cookies
egg free/vegan and gluten free options available
- 1 box cake mix (gluten free also works) – in this case, I used Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Cake Mix
- 2 heaping tablespoons instant espresso
- 2 eggs or suitable egg replacement like Ener-G Egg Replacer
- 3/8 cup canola oil (6 tablespoons, or 1/4 cup + half of 1/4 cup)
- 1 bag (10 oz) Hershey’s Holiday Candy Cane Kisses or about 1 heaping cup of your favorite peppermint bark type candy, chopped
- 1 box (3.1 oz) Nestle Sno-Caps or about 1/2 cup nonpareil chips
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Put cake mix and instant espresso in a medium-sized bowl and break up the big clumps using a fork or whisk (if you’re not lazy like me, you can go all out and sift the mix).
- Use a spoon or spatula to mix in the eggs and the oil in the same bowl until a ball of dough forms and all ingredients are fully incorporated. Gently stir in the chopped peppermint chocolates until evenly distributed.
- Optional but helpful for puffier cookies – chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight (these cookies are great as a make-ahead recipe as well!)
- Line a baking sheet with greased foil, parchment paper, or a silicone baking sheet. Form balls of dough approximately 1 inch in diameter (about the size of a rounded tablespoon) and place on the sheet a few inches apart. Do not flatten the balls of dough – in fact keep them rounded as high as you can. Gently press on top of each dough ball about 4-6 Sno-Caps.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes – I go for 12 or even slightly more minutes if I want a crispier/chewier cookie, and 10 minutes if I want the inside to still be very soft and gooey. Cookies are done when at least the edges of the cookie have set. The middle can still look slightly under-baked, as they will continue to set up while cooling.
- Allow to cool on the hot baking sheet for at least 10 more minutes, until the cookies have set up enough to remove from the sheet.
- These cookies stay soft for a while – just store at room temperature in an airtight container and enjoy!
Nutritional description: yeah, nothing really nutritious about these. But keeping the cookies at a reasonable portion size (about 2-3 inches in diameter for each completely baked cookie) and using canola oil instead of butter keeps them light enough that you can eat a cookie or two without ruining your appetite for dinner – that is, if you can stop at just two! Or have one of these instead of your morning coffee for a sweet caffeinated boost 🙂
Nutritional information (calculated assuming 3 dozen cookies made and without vegan substitutions): Calories 118, Total Fat 5.7g, Saturated Fat 1.8g, Cholesterol 11 mg, Carbs 15.8g, Fiber 0.1g, Sugars 10.1g, Protein 1.1g, Sodium 90.1mg