Monday, May 9, 2011

Chocolate Cutout Cookies

Sometimes your nephew requests you make cookies with him... again. He crumples up the shapes he cuts as he hands them to you to place on the pan, making each and every one beyond crippled in appearance. After cutting out less than a dozen cookies, he's ready to move onto another activity (he's 2 1/2). That leaves you to finish cutting out the cookies that he requested. You don't mind. He's just too cute to argue, and when he says, "Auntie, wanna make cookies," you will always say yes, even if it means in the end you will be making them alone :)

These cookies had a lovely texture. They were firm and held their shape well, but still had a soft/chewy texture toward the center. Also, the minor addition of ground cinnamon adds a lovely background spice note that makes these more sophisticated than simple chocolate cookies. To date, I have made 12 different cookie recipes from Martha Stewart's Cookies, and have shared a handful of them on Mission: Food (I hope she doesn't sue me). I can't express how much I love this cookbook. Every cookie I have made from it has yielded phenomenal results. If you're ever looking for a great cookie cookbook, you will not find one better than this. I simply must give credit where credit is due :)

Chocolate Cutout Cookies
Makes 3 to 4 dozen
(Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup + 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

Cream butter and confectioners' sugar together in an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla, lower the speed, and gradually add in the flour mixture. Dump the dough onto a large piece of plastic wrap, flatten it out into a 1/2-inch to 1-inch thick disk (it will chill better this way), wrap it and refrigerate for 1 hour to overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough out to 1/8-inch thick. If the dough is soft, transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Working quickly, use a 3-inch cookie cutter to cut out shapes from dough. Reroll and cut scraps until all the dough is used. Transfer shapes to parchment paper-lined baking sheets and chill in freezer for 15 minutes.

Bake cookies until the tops and edges are dry and somewhat crisp, about 8 to 9 minutes (they will harden more as they cool). Cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week.

*The recipe originally calls for the equivalent amount of Dutch-Processed Cocoa Powder (or Alkalized Unsweetened Cocoa Powder).  It's treated with an alkali to neutralize its acids, so it does not react with baking soda. I adapted the recipe to use Regular Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (such as Hershey's) which I feel more people have on hand. The color of the cocoa powder here is lighter, whereas Dutch-Processed Cocoa is a deeper brown and yields darker cookies. If making this recipe with Dutch-Processed Cocoa, use the same amounts of cocoa called for in the recipe above, but omit the 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.


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