I sometimes like flipping through old magazines, revisiting old recipes that I once tried (or meant to try). In the Nov/Dec 2005 issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I came across a recipe for Chocolate Butter Cookies that claimed to be “the best,” combining strong chocolaty flavor with classic butter-cookie texture. I decided to try.
This recipe does do a few things to pump up the chocolaty flavor. First, cocoa powder is used for its pure intensity (Dutch processed is recommended, but I just used regular). And a spoonful of instant espresso powder complements the chocolate, making the flavors pop. Both powders are dissolved in melted butter before added to the cookie batter.
I’m not very discriminating when it comes to cookies (I love them all), but Geoff liked these a lot. I guess they’re a great cookie to make if your sweetheart is a chocolate lover. And they’re super easy!
I made mine into a log and rolled it in walnuts and red sanding sugar, but you can make a million different cookies with this one basic recipe. You could chill the dough as a disk then roll them out and make cut-out cookies, make a chocolate, white chocolate or vanilla frosting or add a touch of peppermint extract to the dough instead of vanilla. All would be great I’m sure.
Chocolate Butter Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, Nov/Dec 2005
Yield: 4 dozen cookies
20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter at cool room temperature
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups flour
chopped walnuts (optional)
colored sanding sugar (optional)
Melt 4 tablespoons butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and espresso powder, stir until it’s a smooth paste, then set aside to cool for about 20 minutes
In large bowl, mix remaining 16 tablespoons butter, sugar, salt and cooled cocoa mixture with an electric mixer until combined and fluffy (about 1 minute), scraping sides of bowl with a spatula if needed. Add yolks and vanilla and mix for another 30 seconds. Then, add the flour in 3 additions. Mix until a ball forms. Turn dough onto counter and shape into a 12 x 2 inch log, using plastic wrap or parchment paper to roll neatly. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Pup chopped nuts and sanding sugar onto an edged baking sheet and roll chilled cylinder of dough in it, pressing nuts and sugar into place. Then cut dough into 1/4 inch slices and place on a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet.
Cook time should be about 10 to 12 minutes. It’s hard to tell when these cookies are done, since they’re dark anyway. You need to give them a gentle touch while they’re in the oven – they should show slight resistance. If they’re too soft, they’re undercooked and if the edges start to turn noticeably browner, they’re overcooked.
After taking the cookies out of the oven, allow them to cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate, if you like, and enjoy!