These cookies really have nothing to do with Valentine’s Day. I cut them into hearts because it seemed appropriate, but in reality they are much more about making sure you know how to make the easiest chocolate cut-out cookies possible.
The recipe isn’t mine; I found it over on Smitten Kitchen and then quickly realized Deb also included it in her book, and for good reason, too, because it’s the kind of recipe that every family should have tucked in their back pocket, worthy of being passed between generations of home cooks (the recipe comes from Deb’s mom) who’ll make them with whatever shaped cookie cutters they happen to have on hand.
Slightly old-fashioned in their simplicity, they aren’t fancied up with sea salt, specialty chocolate, or espresso powder like you might find in a more modern version of a similar cookie. Instead, they’re made with basic pantry ingredients, yet I assure you, they are anything but dull.
Unlike other sugar cookies, these don’t snap in the your mouth when bitten. The tender texture keeps the cookie intact, making them ideal for covering with a simple royal icing or using to prepare easy ice cream sandwiches. In fact, if you keep batches of baked cookies in your freezer you’ll be ready to prepare cookie sandwiches at the last minute as long as you have some ice cream hanging out in the freezer.
I like to top half of my unbaked cookies with gold sanding sugar, which offers just a little hint of crunch, but you can keep them plain if you prefer – they taste just as good.
Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
Makes 40 two-inch cookies.
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling the cookies
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or regular table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until well incorporated. Mix in the vanilla, and gradually stir in the dry ingredients.
Place a sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and mound the cookie dough in the centre. Wrap tightly and place in the fridge for one hour. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll out the cookie dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a floured counter or table. Cut into your desired shapes, brushing away the excess flour that has collected on the top. Bake for 8-9 minutes, or until the edges are firm and the centres have puffed slightly. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.