Monday, November 28, 2011

12 Weeks of Christmas- Week 7: Make-Ahead Cookies!

I am a little behind on my 12 Weeks of Christmas!  I had planned on posting this past weekend after the Thanksgiving festivities and Black Friday shopping, but unfortunately Bryan and I got very sick over the weekend. I'm very thankful that we are feeling better now, and that it's all over.

Now that it IS all over, I feel ready to post about today's Christmas gift- a delicious cookie recipe! If you're wondering why I'm sharing a cookie recipe with still about a month until Christmas, it's because you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it! You could make a few batches and then have home made cookie dough on hand for gifts next month!

I got this recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Chocolate Sparkler Cookies from Serious Eats. These cookies are all that their name promises- sparkly and VERY chocolatey. They're not super sweet, but have more of a rich, real chocolate flavor. They're a little flaky and a little chewy. I LOVED them.

(The finished product)

This recipe is really pretty simple. For the dough, you will need:

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder

  • Pinch of cinnamon

  • Pinch of salt

  • 2 1/2 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • You make this dough just like most others. First, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. Mix together the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, and then add them slowly to the butter/sugar/vanilla mixture.

    Here's the dough when it's finished- kind of crumbly- looking, but the flour mixture is well incorporated. If you want to test the texture of your dough, just take out a small piece and try to form it into a ball.

    Next, you take the dough out and divide it into two even balls. Then, wrap them separately in plastic wrap or in Ziploc bags.

    (I realize they don't look super appealing here- they will get better).

    Expect it to be a LITTLE challenging to form them, because the dough really needs some time in the fridge to set up properly.

    Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

    After 30 minutes have passed, take the dough out and give yourself a nice, clean space to work on. Form each dough-ball into a log: just like you would find with a store bought cookie dough! Make sure to roll them so that they are not hollow in the middle!! That is SO important! Wrap the logs airtight in plastic wrap.

    If you want to just give the DOUGH as a gift instead of baking the cookies yourself, you could wrap them in plastic and then wrap them in parchment paper to make them a little prettier. If you do that, remember to add instructions for the last steps of the recipe, and remember that this dough is more of a "going-over-to-their-house-and-put-directly-in-their-freezer" gift rather than a "put-under-the-tree-for-a-week-and-let-it-go-bad" gift if you know what I'm saying.

    As long as you seal them airtight in plastic wrap, they will last for up to 2 months in your freezer. So if you plan on actually baking these cookies in December, you're done for now! If you're making them immediately, 1 to 2 hours in the freezer should do the trick.

    I wanted to try out the whole recipe so here's what you (or the recipient of the frozen dough if you choose that route) will be doing about 1 month from now:

    You'll need one egg yolk- slightly beaten. Lightly brush the two dough logs with the yolk. Next, roll the logs in a good amount of sugar. I did this part in a clean baking pan so I wouldn't have sugar all over my counter top.

    Now- cut some slices to make cookies!!! The recipe says the cookies should be about 1/2" thick. I just sort of estimated.

    Now, bake them at 350 degrees F, for about 15 minutes- keep your eye on them! They don't spread much at all, so you can fit quite a few on a pan. Oh, and don't use the baking pan you used to roll the logs in sugar unless it is cleaned really well. The sugar will BURN!

     After baking, let them sit for a minute before removing them from the pan or else they may fall apart.

    Sidenote: We bought a silicon baking mat about a year ago, and it is seriously one of my favorite things in my kitchen! I feel like they make our cookies turn out SO much better! I definitely recommend them! If you don't have one, I suggest parchment paper.

    These cookies are a great Christmas present, and I think they would go great with some coffee! That would make such a cute gift set!

     I also love that you can make these ahead of time! Many other cookie dough recipes can be made and stored this way, but I know that some work better than others. If you have a specific recipe in mind, you might want to do some research (aka Google it) first just to be sure it's safe to freeze!

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