Saturday, November 28, 2015

Iced Fudgy Chocolate Cutouts

Ok, so picture this: it's the last week of October.  My kids are excitedly punching out ghosts, bats, and other spooky Halloween shapes from the cookie dough we've just rolled out.

And I say, "Hey guys...this little bit of dough here is for me...I have some Christmas cookies to make."

You see, the day before Halloween is a little late in the game to blog about Halloween cookies.
I knew these cookies were going to be something special enough to write about...and that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I found myself decorating Christmas trees, candy canes, and snowflakes in October.

But look at my willpower!  I sat on this recipe until after Thanksgiving!

Not an easy task, let me tell you- these cookies are extraordinary.

The first thing that jumped out at me was that there is absolutely no leavening in this recipe- nothing at all that makes them rise as they bake.  They hold their shape perfectly and stay fudgy and delicious.

The dough itself is easy to work with as long as you follow the directions.  Don't skimp on the chill time or you will have a disastrous mess on your hands!  If the dough tries to get a little tacky and soft on you as you're rolling out scraps for a second set of cutouts just toss it in the fridge again for a few minutes.  The extra effort will be well-rewarded!

I've mentioned before that I'm horrendously bad at decorating cookies- I have no talent in that arena whatsoever.  I once again used my tried and true method of dipping the cookies in icing to coat them. I added a little Wilton White-White Icing Color (I LOVE that stuff!!) to make the white really white. I drizzled contrasting colors over the base coat to make them a little more fun- white stripes on red candy canes, red drizzles on green trees...they were adorable!

Anyway, I honestly didn't even try these the night I made them.  I'd been nibbling on cookie dough throughout the day and was kind of done with sweets.  But the next day...these things are dangerous.  Put them on your Christmas plates, take them to work, bless your neighbors, but if you care anything about your waistline do not keep them around your house.  They will get eaten.  Quickly.

My kids have so much fun using cookie cutters that I'm always on the lookout for a new cutout recipe that's not just your basic sugar cookie (Eggnog Cutouts anyone?).  These are definitely going to be in the rotation from now on.  Let the Christmas baking season begin!

2 cups unsalted butter (at room temperature)
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
3 tsp vanilla
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
1 tsp salt

1. Using a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together in the bowl of an electric mixer on low to medium speed until ingredients are just combined.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula and mix again for a few seconds more.

2. Mix in eggs and vanilla.  Scrape down the bowl with your spatula at least once and mix again.

3. Whisk together flour, cocoa powder and salt.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Drape a tea towel over the electric mixer so that flour won't escape.  Being careful not to overmix, mix on low until all ingredients are just combined.

4. Place half of the dough between 2 large pieces of parchment or wax paper.  Roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness.  Place on baking sheet and move to refrigerator.  Repeat with remaining dough.  Chill for at least 1 hour.  

5. Roll out the dough further if needed and cut out dough using cookie cutters.  Place on parchment paper-lined or lightly greased baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and repeat.  Place scraps back in fridge for a few minutes if dough is too soft to work with.

6. Put cookie dough shapes back into the fridge for 10 minutes in order to help them hold their shape while baking.  Preheat oven to 350°F.

7. Bake cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the center of the cookie no longer looks wet.  Allow cookies to cool on pan for 2 minutes before transferring to wire cooling rack.

1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract

1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners' sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.

2. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

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