chocolate guys

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Why hello there. Yet another recipe that I need to get up on the blog for easy access. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. It was a much needed break from a particularly nuts December at work.

Chocolate Scotch Shortbread Cookies

Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (1978) From my In-Laws Cookbook Library

These little Chocolate Guys (or Stars or Trees) are the go to cookie recipe in the Schmidt family. Not too sweet. Intensely chocolately. Great with coffee!

“Traditionally, shortbread is not chocolate.  Untraditionally this is verychocolate.  These are thick, dry, crisp cookies that are buttery and plain. They keep well, mail well, and are lovely to package as a gift.”

35 to 40 Cookies

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
½ cup strained unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process)
1 cup confectioners sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry instant espresso powder
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*If you make this in a food processor, the butter should be firm and cold, right out of the refrigerator.  If you make it in an electric mixer, the butter should be removed from the refrigerator about 20 or 30 minutes before using.

Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 300 degrees.This may be prepared in a food processor or in an electric mixer.

To use a processor: Fit it with a steel blade and place the dry ingredients in the bowl.  Cut the cold butter into ½ inch slices over the dry ingredients.  Add the vanilla.  Cover and process until the ingredients hold together. I always use a food processor because it is so easy!

To use an electric mixer: Cream the butter in a large mixer bowl.  Add the vanilla, sugar, and salt and beat to mix.  On low speed add the flour and cocoa, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula and beating only until the mixture holds together.

If the dough is not perfectly smooth, place it on a board or smooth work surface and knead it briefly with the heel of your hand.

Form the dough into a ball and flatten it slightly. Flour a pastry cloth, rubbing the flour in well and a rolling pin.  Place the dough on the cloth and turn it over to flour both sides.  With the floured rolling pin (reflour it as necessary) roll the dough until it is ½ inch thick (no thinner).  It is important to make it the same thickness all over.

Use a plain round cookie cutter 1 ½ inches in diameter.  Before cutting each cookie, dip the cutter in flour and tap it to shake off excess.  Cut the cookies as close to each other as possible.  Place the cookies 1 inch apart on unbuttered cookie sheets.

Press together leftover scraps of dough, reflour the cloth lightly if necessary and reroll the dough.

Now each cookie should be pierced three times in a vertical row in the middle with the tines of a four-pronged fork, piercing all the way through the cookie each time.  If the dough sticks to the fork, or if removing the fork causes the cookies to lose their shape, transfer the sheets of cookies to the refrigerator or freezer only until the dough becomes slightly firm—do not let it freeze or become too firm or the fork will crack the cookies.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch, reversing the sheets top to bottom and front to back once during baking to insure even baking. Watch these carefully—they could burn and become bitter before you know it unless you check them often.  If you bake only one sheet, bake it on the higher rack; one sheet will bake in less time. Once you start smelling the chocolate, you know they are close.

With a wide metal spatula transfer the cookies to racks to cool.

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