Wintertime is when I get inspired to bake cookies, whether they are classic favorites like peanut butter kiss, gooey chocolate chip and soft oatmeal raisin, or the more time-consuming, but beautifully decorated Christmas cookies.
Last year I tried decorating with royal icing, and for my first try, I thought they looked really pretty - not perfect, but they sure did taste delicious.
Christmas cookies don't have to be covered in red and green icing and sparkles, though, so this holiday season, I baked a batch of bittersweet chocolate shortbread instead, which I very simply rolled out and cut into squares and rectangles. The dough is frozen before baking, which keeps the shape of the cookies and prevents them from spreading out. And then, after cooling, comes the decorating, which is the most fun part.
For a variety of designs, which makes them both beautiful to look at as well as offers lots of flavor choices, plan on several types of chocolate, such as white, milk and dark, and plenty of toppings, such as crushed pecans, almonds, walnuts or hazelnuts, mini chocolate chips, toffee bits, sea salt and peppermint.
The bitterness of the chocolate cookies is sweetened up by the toppings, and a little sea salt creates a nice balance.
The cookies also freeze beautifully, and once decorated and the chocolate has set, they can be kept in the freezer to maintain their freshness, and then brought out for your next party. Or just for cookies and milk on a snowy weekend.
One Year Ago: Mocha Rum Cake with Cappuccino Rum Buttercream
Two Years Ago: Welcoming December with Decorations, Eggnog Spice Bread and Three-Bean and Beef Chili...
Chocolate Dipped Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for rolling
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1-2 tablespoons cold cream, milk or ice water
- assorted toppings: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, pecans, almonds, toffee bits, coarse sea salt, mini chocolate chips, crushed peppermint candy...
In a food processor (or using a bowl and pastry cutter) combine the cocoa powder, flour, sugar and salt. Drop in the butter, a couple tablespoons at a time, pulsing just to incorporate the butter. Drop in the egg yolks, vanilla and cream, and pulse just until the dough starts to hold together. Dump out on a work surface, dusted with cocoa powder. Divide the dough into two parts and work with half at a time.
Roll the dough out, dusting with cocoa powder as needed to keep it from sticking, to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. (Cook's Note: I rolled mine out to 1/8 inch thick, simply to get more cookies out of the batch, but they are very delicate when rolled that thin, and break easily while warm if you don't handle them gently. Roll them only to 1/4 inch thickness for easier handling.)
Using cookie cutters, a pastry cutter or pizza cutter, cut as many cookies as you can, then gather up the scraps and repeat until all the dough is used. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with silpat baking mats or parchment paper. (Cook's Note: I cut only two shapes, using a pizza cutter - approximately 2 1/2" x 2 1/2" square cookies and 1 1/2" x 3" rectangular cookies.)
Place the baking sheets in the freezer and freeze for 30-40 minutes - this will keep them from spreading out when they bake.
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the cookies - straight from the freezer - for 10 minutes for 1/8 inch thickness and 10-12 minutes for 1/4 inch thickness. Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes then use a spatula to gently transfer them to wire racks to cool completely.
To decorate, dip/drizzle the cooled cookies in melted chocolate, and sprinkle with toppings. Set on parchment paper until the chocolate has set, then store in an airtight container (if using peppermint, store those separately or the entire container will smell/taste like peppermint). Decorated cookies can be stored in the freezer for several months; just take them out a half hour before serving.
Yield - depends on the thickness and size of the cookies
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen