Monday, December 9, 2013

Gifts from the Kitchen: Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

'Tis the season for gift giving! And what says happy holidays better than homemade cookies? So Day 1 of my Thrifty Gifts From the Kitchen series will feature just that: a delicious, simple chocolate peppermint cookie recipe and a suggestion for a cute, DIY presentation of the gift. The end product? A thoughtful gift for only $1.

This summer, my fiancé started saving any jar that came with a pre-made food. Salsa jars, pasta sauce jars, olive jars-- you name it, he kept them. When his cupboard started overflowing, I asked him to throw them out, but he did not. So instead, I got to thinking of ways I could get rid of them. Soon enough, I realized that with a little TLC I could use these jars to present the same gifts that would normally come in mason jars and more! The best part is, these jars are free. To further add to my cute, thrifty presentation I use the holiday-themed Trader Joe's paper bags, creatively cut to feature holiday designs or plain brown paper. I've been using these bags to wrap my presents for years now, because nothing looks more classic than a package tastefully decorated and wrapped in brown paper. Some of the jars have plain metal or white lids, so those work as it. Others, such as the Travel Cookie Jar above, had some sort of product label. To cover this, I covered the outside of the lid with a small piece of aluminum foil, tucked under. I could have gone one step further and decorated the lid with glitter or something else like that, but I figured Sam would prefer I keep it simple.

The contents of the jar are worth a blog post in and of themselves. These are a new, super simple, super healthy chocolate peppermint cookie recipe. I've obviously been on a bean kick for desserts: they are super easy to work with, very nutritious, and very cheap! It doesn't get better than that. These days, you can buy chickpea flour for a pretty penny and many gluten free recipes call for it, but you usually end up adding wet ingredients anyways. So I figured I'd give chickpeas a shot in cookies! Ok, it's not totally original... I was inspired by this blog post that I found last week. The result is just phenomenal. You don't even need to add leavening or binding agents to this cookie... it's that easy! Chickpeas are a complete protein, and for 24 cookies from the recipe below, each cookie will have 70 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, and 3 grams of protein. The antioxidants from the unsweetened cocoa powder and the peppermint tea make this recipe a hidden gem. I also tried peppermint green tea for a batch and that was  amazing... and then the cookies also pack the added health benefits of green tea. With all of those compounds that promote cell regeneration and an ideal carbohydrate to protein ratio of 4:1, I bet these cookies would do really well as fuel on a long bike ride! These cookies are definitely a gift that will keep on giving.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

2 cans chickpeas ($1.20)
1c cocoa powder ($1)
3/4c brown sugar ($0.20)
3/4c strong peppermint tea (two tea bags) ($0.25)

1. Boil water and brew an extra strong cup of peppermint tea or peppermint green tea by adding 2 tea bags to 3/4c boiling water. Let steep for 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350F.
3. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Food process for several minutes, until smooth.
4. Use hands to roll dough into 1 inch balls. Flatten onto greased cookie sheet. (Or if your chickpeas were extra moist, drop rounded spoonfuls onto the sheet. They will still come out well!)
5. Bake 15- 20 minutes, until cooked through. Enjoy!

To make the Travel Cookie Jar

1 medium sized wide-mouthed (salsa) jar (free)
4 inch circle of aluminum foil ($0.04)
plain brown scrap and and patterned scrap from Trader Joe's paper bag (free)
Elmer's glue ($0.01)
curling ribbon ($0.02)
candy cane ($0.08)
1/3 of cookies from the recipe above ($0.85)
Total cost of gift: $1!

1. Clean out jar very well. Remove label. If it won't come off, or come off cleanly, don't worry! We can fix that with our repurposed brown paper label.
2. If you want to cover the lid, place lid inside up on a circle of aluminum foil. Fold edges under.
3. Cut a small card out of the TJ's bag that has a festive print on the outside. I used a paper cutter to make sure my edges were straight. Fold in half. Inside, write the recipe on the one side and your message on the other!
4. Cut out a plain brown square to make a label for the jar. If you couldn't get the label off, just measure, and make your new label so it covers the old one! Use Elmer's glue to attach your new label.
4. Load jar with cookies and cap.
5. Punch hole in recipe/ card. Thread curly ribbon through. Add candy cane and tie the curly ribbon off, either in a bowl or just in a knot and curl the ends.

Stay tuned all week for more ideas for thrifty DIY gifts from the kitchen!


  1. We apologize for our oversight (long post today after a week of sleep deprivation). The sentence, "I could have went one step further and decorated the lid with glitter or something else like that, but I figured Sam would prefer I keep it simple" should, of course read, "I could have gone........."

  2. Superb Blog! Best giveaway for guests in wedding. Chocolate is the perfect compliment to the couple's big day. Creating a personalized wrapper makes your favor a special too.

  3. Awesome Blog!!! Thank you for sharing valuable information Stef. Chocolates refresh your mind and body. Chocolate gifts ideas add a touch of personalization. Have A Great Day!!!