Monday, December 10, 2012

Chocolate "Gingerbread Men" Cut-Outs

First, I have to say that these cookies are not Gingerbread at all.  There is no ginger or molasses- these are just plain sugar cookie cut-outs.  The kids had a day off of school and were begging to make Gingerbread men.  I don't like molasses, so I don't have any in the house, so I decided to just make chocolate men (and ladies) instead.  These were so good- the kids and I loved them, but they still want to make "real" gingerbread men.  So I guess I'll have to suck it up and buy some molasses, lol!  But these are a good sub if you don't have or like molasses.  The kids and I had a blast making and decorating these!

These cookies are very sturdy and thick.  They do not spread at all during baking, and that's due to some extra steps when making the dough.  Actually, I almost didn't make this particular recipe because the directions seemed too fussy.  But I wanted cookies that did not spread, so I went with it, and they turned out perfect!  I also got out the ruler when rolling these out, and rolled them out about 1/4 of an inch, which is really thicker than it seems.  I only baked them about 8 minutes, too; I took them out as soon as the surface of the cookies started to look dry.  Then I let them firm up on the baking sheet for a few minutes.  The resulting cookies were soft, a bit chewy, and sturdy at the same time.
Chocolate Cookie Cut-Outs
adapted from Sprinkle Bakes

1 cup (two US sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 scant cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

1.  In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.  Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency.
3.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
4.  Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the paper with a rolling pin. Transfer dough - wax paper and all - to a large cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for 1 hour.
5.  Remove top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner (or you may roll dough between the sheets of wax paper.)  It should not be sticky, though. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much! You don’t want streaks of white flour baked onto your dark chocolate cookies. 
6.  Roll dough to a ¼-inch to ½ -inch thickness.  Cut out desired shapes from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to stretch the cutout shapes or they will be distorted after baking.  Refrigerate the cutouts for 30 minutes. This will help the cookies maintain a crisp shape during baking.
7.  Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Bake the cookies for 15 to 20 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack. Decorate the cookies when completely cooled.  To decorate, we used homemade white frosting, some Christmas sprinkles, and mini M&M's.

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