Homemade cookies do not get more basic and delicious than this recipe from Heather Baird, author of the vibrant, award-winning blog Sprinkle Bakes. Heather, whose debut cookbook hits stores in May 2012, has given a classic cut-out cookie recipe a decadent twist with the simple addition of dark cocoa powder. Recipe featured in our 25 Days of Christmas Cookies celebration (click for more)
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
For the Cookies:
- ½ lb unsalted butter (two US sticks)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cup plus 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 scant cup dark cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
For the Icing:
- 3 Tbsp meringue powder
- 4 cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup warm water
- 1 tsp lemon extract
- Food coloring (optional)
To make cookies:
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the paper with a rolling pin. Transfer dough - wax paper and all - to a large cookie sheet. Wrap the dough tightly onto the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner. It should not be sticky. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much! You don’t want streaks of white flour baked onto your pretty dark chocolate cookies.
Roll dough to a ¼-inch to ½ -inch thickness. Cut out desired shapes from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to stretch the cutout shapes or they will be distorted after baking.
Refrigerate the cutouts for 30 minutes. This will help the cookies maintain a crisp shape during baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Decorate the cookies when completely cooled.
To make icing:
Whisk together meringue powder and powdered sugar. Pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Add warm water and mix on high speed for about 5-7 minutes. Icing will lightly thicken, but will still be thinner than stiff-peak royal icing.
Tint icing with food coloring (optional) and transfer to a piping bag. Use to embellish cookies.
Makes about 2 dozen.