For Halloween, I wanted to make some dark cut-out sugar cookies so I could decorate them with white icing that would stand out. I knew exactly what I wanted — flat cookies that I could roll out and cut into shapes. They needed to be very dark (it’s for Halloween, after all), not just kind of brown. I had cut out a picture of the ghost cookies a while ago (I forget the source) and wanted to copy them.
A search turned up this recipe from the American Butter Institute, of all places! (Something about their name seems very trustworthy for a cookie recipe.) The picture of these cookies on their site was beautiful. I’m glad I tried it — the cookies were delicious and just what I was looking for.
These would make nice chocolate wafer cookies if you roll them thin enough and watch them closely in the oven to make sure they don’t burn. They’re also just a nice twist on regular sugar cookie cut-outs. The institute’s site shows them in snowflake shapes, for example.
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (dark, if possible)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well until combined. Add flour mixture and beat until dough is smooth.
Form dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate one hour or until firm enough to roll.
Remove dough from refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. (Tip: If the dough sticks to the rolling pin, don’t use flour to make it not stick — dust it with cocoa powder so the dough stays brown!) Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes; transfer cookies to non-stick baking sheet or baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Return to refrigerator for another 10 minutes. Turn oven to 350F (175C) degrees.
Remove cookies from refrigerator and bake 12 minutes, or until firm around edges. Let cookies cool on baking sheet 5 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
FOR ICING: It’s easy! Put some confectioner’s sugar (icing sugar) in a small bowl. Add a few drops of water and mix with a spoon. Keep adding only a few drops at a time until it’s a good consistency for piping — you don’t want it too watery. If you’re not sure, then thicker is better than thinner. Spoon the icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip off a very tiny corner. Then you can pipe it onto the cookies.