Before Thanksgiving arrived, I was already anticipating Christmas. I had a queue of holiday movies prepared and had ordered my first gingerbread mocha of the season at the local coffee shop. Each day was meticulously checked off the calendar, the 25th circled with a black sharpie as the prize. However, what I didn't anticipate was that after Thanksgiving passed, so would my excitement for Christmas.
I fell back into the everyday routines, and the holiday faded from the forefront into the back of my mind.
Though I set up a tiny tree in my apartment, the holiday feeling didn't hold. I spent the next few weeks bundled up in my small town, doing all of my Christmas shopping online instead of venturing out to the packed malls. Even the car radio didn't get me in the spirit, refusing to pick up any stations playing holiday music. It was that "special time of year," but it didn't feel like it yet, as least not to me.
So, with a week before Christmas, I gave myself an intervention.
After the fiasco with baking last weekend, it felt right to give sugar cookies a try again. For the last few years, I've set aside a day just for myself, to bake and decorate while watching an endless stream of cheesy holiday movies. With a pastry bag in hand, the tales of holidays gone awry, of single mothers finding love, of corporate employees realizing family is most important, of women falling in love (with Santa), of Christmas wishes coming true, feel like the holiday season to me.
Yesterday I set aside this time for myself. After heading to bed, with a kitchen counter full of drying cookies and a heart full of holiday buzz, I want to say mission accomplished.
Chocolate Sugar Cookies are a delicious alternative to the traditional sugar cookie. The base is a standard sugar cookie with cocoa powder to give it a deep chocolate flavor. Use a high quality cocoa powder for the best character. As with my classic recipe, these cookies bake up flat, providing a smooth surface for decorating, and stay soft for several days. The cookies also freeze well so they can be prepared days or several weeks in advance.
One Year Ago: Peppermint Marshmallows and Christmas Sugar Cookies
Two Years Ago: Chocolate Pomegranate Tart, Almond Cardamom Rolls, Red Wine Chocolate Truffles, and Gingerbread Cookies
Three Years Ago: Pumpkin Chocolate Granola Bars, Pumpkin Panna Cotta, Honey Cookies, and Chocolate Clementine Cupcakes
Four Years Ago: Pear Chips, Candy Striped Meringues, Chocolate Truffles, and Gingerbread Cheesecake
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
Yields 2-3 dozen, depending on size of the cookie
3/4 cup (170 grams) butter
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups (285 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (43 grams) cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Mix in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour to firm up the dough.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat for best cookie removal.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness and cut out the cookies using cookie cutters (follow these tips for the best cookies). The dough that is not being handled should be kept refrigerated. Bake cookies for 6-8 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. Cool completely on a cooling rack before frosting.