Saturday, February 11, 2012

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies with Cocoa Butter Frosting

I think I have admitted before that I am a recipe junky.  I have collected more recipes than I could hope to make, and yet I continue to seek them out.  It's my cross to bear.  While flipping through one of my recipe binders recently, I realized that I have two different recipes for chocolate sugar cookies.  I used one to make chocolate Halloween cookies last fall, but the other one hadn't been tested yet.  I had been planning to make Valentine's Day sugar cookies and decided it was time to try out chocolate cookie recipe #2.

After testing, I am bumping #2 up to #1.  Taste-wise, it might not be a totally fair fight because I used dark chocolate cocoa powder this time, and I like my chocolate dark.  But where this recipe really gets the nod is in workability.  I remember the dough of my other chocolate sugar cookies being pretty sticky and hard to roll out.  I didn't have any problems with this dough.  These were probably the easiest sugar cookies I have ever made.  And they were packed with amazingly delicious dark chocolate.  Where have these been all my life?
To make these chocolatey cookies, start by sifting together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
Then cream together some sugar and shortening.
Add eggs.
And add milk until combined.
Then add the dry ingredients a little at a time...
...until well combined.  That''s good stuff right there!
Divide the dough into two balls and wrap 'em up.  Refrigerate for at least an hour.  I like to make my dough the day before I bake my cookies.

When your dough is chilled, roll it out to 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness, depending on how thick you like your cookies.  I like mine nice and thick!  I rolled mine between 2 sheets of waxed paper.  And here's a tip I learned by accident: if you put a little water on the counter top before you lay down the waxed paper, it won't slide around while you are rolling.
Cut out your shapes and put the cut cookies onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Parchment paper is such a life saver!  I really wanted just plain heart cookies, but amazingly enough I don't have that.  I have a cookie cutter that is a heart with an arrow through it.  So I used that cutter and then just cut off the arrow.  Sometimes you have to improvise!
Bake at 375 for about 7 minutes.  It can be hard to tell when chocolate cookies are done because they are already brown.  I set my timer for 7 minutes.  When it went off, the cookies were still pretty soft but I went with it.  They hardened up as they cooled. 
Now for the frosting.  For pretty decorated cookies I use royal icing.  You can do some really cool things with royal icing, but you can't beat the taste of real frosting!  This frosting is really good and so easy to make!  I could have eaten it with a spoon.  But I didn't.  Much!

To make your own yummy cocoa butter frosting, start by creaming some butter.
While that's doing its thing, sift together cocoa powder and powdered sugar. 
Now add the powdered sugar mixture to the butter.  I think I should have beaten a little more at this point because I did end up with a few little lumps of butter in my frosting.  Oops!
Then beat in milk and vanilla. 
Add more of the powdered sugar mixture until you get the consistency you want.
And frost away!  If the frosting gets too soft, let is sit in the refrigerator for a little while to firm up again.  I found it was really easy to use a pastry bag with a #21 tip.  I tried a few different ways of frosting, but in the end, what matters is a pile of chocolate frosting on a delicious chocolate cookie.  That's what life is all about!

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup Hersey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup shortening
2 eggs
1/4 cup skim milk
Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer beat sugar and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add eggs and beat until combined.  Add milk and beat until combined.
Add flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, mixing until combined with each addition.  Form into a 2 balls, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hours.
When dough is chilled, heat oven to 375 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Roll dough out, one half at a time, to about 1/8-inch thickness.  Cut out cookies with desired cookie cutter and place on baking sheets.  Bake about 7 minutes.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

Cocoa Butter Frosting
1/4 cup softened butter
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
Beat the butter until light and fluffy.  Sift the cocoa and powdered sugar.  Gradually add 1 1/2 cups of the powdered sugar and cocoa mixture to the butter.  Beat in milk and vanilla.  Gradually beat in 1 1/4 cups remainder powdered sugar.  Frost on cooled cookies.  You can spread on the frosting or use a pastry bag and tip.

*Note: if you are making full batch of cookies, I would recommend making a double batch of frosting!  Depending on the size of the cookies you make, you should get 3-4 dozen cookies in one batch.

Recipe adapted from The Ultimate Cookie Book

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