This weekend we are going into full Christmas mode around here. Decorations will be pulled out of storage, lights will be hung outside and we'll be going to pick out our tree! I can't wait! We'll probably even break out the Christmas music and let it play in the background to really set the mood. And of course, I will bake Christmas cookies! It isn't the holiday season without Christmas cookies, right?
My favorite Christmas cookies are decorated sugar cookies. They're fun, festive and colorful and though they can be time consuming, I always feel like the effort was worth it in the end. The other day I was perusing the Cook's Illustrated website and came upon these chocolate butter cookies. I thought they might be a fun alternative to traditional sugar cookies so I wanted to test them out. I hoped that they'd turn out well and I could include them in my holiday cookie trays.
The recipe is fairly straight forward, with one slightly unusual step - some of the butter is melted and combined with cocoa and espresso powder to form a paste before being added to the dough. CI says that this blooming of the cocoa and espresso intensifies their flavors so the cookies have great chocolate flavor. The dough was easy to roll out and cut into shapes. I did find that the cookies retained their shape best in the oven if I popped the cut shapes into the fridge on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes before putting them in the oven. The recipe instructs you to bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes but I really liked the texture at about 9 minutes. Just keep an eye on them as you definitely don't want them to overbake.
My first bite into these cookies made me so happy - they were everything I'd hoped and more! Typically I can't notice a big difference when I add espresso powder to chocolate recipes, but here I could definitely taste a difference. The chocolate flavor was complex and much better than most chocolate cookies I've had in the past. I decorated some of the cookies with the bittersweet chocolate glaze from the website (I didn't realize how uneven my glaze was until I looked at the pictures - oops!), but I preferred the cookies plain. I didn't like the glaze competing with my delicious chocolate cookies! I'll definitely be making these and even decorating some with royal icing this holiday season. I am not going to reproduce the recipe on my site, but you can find it here and I definitely recommend giving it a shot!