Chocolate Cutout Sugar Cookies
This is my most requested cut out recipe. I've used this in the humidity of Louisiana and the dryness of Beijing, China (yes, I lived in Beijing for three years - let me know if you want to hear the crazy stories I have from living abroad) and every time the cookies come out perfect.
The recipe card is available to download in our shop, so I will just go over the basics with tips and trick. You can apply these to the current recipe you are using.
When using butter to make dough, you want to avoid using chilled butter. I use my butter somewhere in-between room temperature and refrigerated temperature. I find that if you leave it out for to long the butter becomes too oily and leaves spotting on my icing. If you absolutely MUST use cold butter, cut it up into really small cubes before adding it, you our butter and increase mixing time. The butter and sugar mixture debate. I see so many people under-mixing or over-mixing their butter sugar combo. If you can still see the sugar grains in your mixture keep going! Make sure you are scraping the bowl in-between mixes, it will help the two fully combine. Under-mixing will cause your cookies to be hard and spread during baking as the sugar is not evenly distributed. This is the base of your batter and can change the entire texture of your dough. If your butter and sugar mixture becomes soupy just stop and throw it out. Your dough will spread, spread, spread and cause your royal icing to bleed once it dries.
I do not use room temperature eggs. Ive tried this both ways with almost all of my recipes and I personally do not notice the difference. I will typically take my eggs out of the refrigerator around 30 minutes before mixing my dough when I am prepping.
Using oil in cookies?!? Yes. This is the secret. Oil is a fat. It's just like using butter, but helps with cookie spreading and maintaining a soft texture. When using oil in cookies you want to use a canola oil or no taste olive oil. Taste test your oil, if it has a strong taste, try another brand. Once you find the oil that works with for you stick with it. You can also try adding small amounts of oil to your current dough recipe and see what happens.
Extracts. This can and will make or break your cookies. You can use cheap butter, eggs and flour but if you really want to elevate the flavor this is where you should spend your money. I typically shop at normal grocery stores, but when it comes to extracts and specialty products I will head to Wholefoods and let me tell you why. Most of these companies are local and small. This means the extracts are made in smaller batches with higher quality products resulting in a better quality product. This is the vanilla extract I use. It is amazing. You can also make extracts at home. Let me know if you want me to post the recipe.
How to incorporate your dry mixture. When mixing dough you always want to combine all dry ingredients that your recipe calls before adding it to the batter. I add my mixture in two steps to avoid a flour cloud. I also make sure not to over-mix my flour into the batter. This is another reason why cookies turn out rock hard. When I first started making cookies I would use a wooden spoon to mix my flour into the batter, but I've come to my senses and purchased a dough hook. I start with the mixing blade and mid way switch to my dough hook. Make sure you are scraping your bowl several times, especially the bottom. When you pull the dough out you don't want a bunch of dry indigents to sitting in the bottom of the mixing bowl. Everything should be properly mixed in.
When your dough is made, roll it out between to sheets of wax paper. Do not add excess flour to roll your dough. I use my dough stick to make sure that my dough sheets are equal in sizing. If you don't have dough sticks, grab a paint mixer stick. I used those for years.
Chill your dough. I typically roll my dough out into sheets and cut out after it is chilled. This is key in your cookies not spreading. I do not leave them in the refrigerator for more than 20 minutes and I almost never put my dough in the freezer unless I am storage freezing it.
Baking time and temperature is just a suggestion. With this particular recipe my oven works at 330 degrees for 9-12 minutes, I know this is an odd temperature but it works. Your oven may need to go up to 350. When I am working with a new oven or recipe, I will bake 3" circle cookies and try at different times and temperatures. When you are checking on your dough while cooking, do not open the door, this will release heat from your oven and alter baking times and results. Lightly pat the tops of your cookies with a spatula to flatten them out. Let your cookies cool in the baking pan and for a few minutes before transferring them to a rack.
Okay That is all. I hope you guys found this interesting. Let me know if you have any other comments or questions. I am more than willing to help with any dough issues you guys may be having.