It's all in the details - Cocoa cut-out cookies with apricot jam
December 7th, 2010

Life doesn’t always play along nicely. Just after we finished our book project, everybody involved got sick. One after another, almost in sync. Then hell winter broke loose on the exact day I needed to travel north and see my family. As much as I had anticipated some christmas baking frenzy, sometimes a cookies-to-bake-list has to be put on ice – pun intended – for a couple of days.

Meanwhile the sun is back up and shining again, the tons of snow are almost gone (I try to ignore the sad-looking slushy grey piles of what used to be proud mountains of snow on every street’s corner) and the stacks of flour and almonds are reaching astronomical heights in my pantry. It’s time to get baking!

For starters, how about a very basic cut-out cookie with cocoa and a touch of cinnamon, one that allows for all kinds of variation? Like fragile and not so fragile shapes, fancy chocolate decoration or traditional jam filling? This recipe might just be the one for you – you can use it any way you like.

I usually start off my Christmas baking with cookie recipes that require a little extra time for decoration, simply because after cookie batch no. 12 I most likely have lost the patience to neatly decorate each and every cookie. So I need to get these out of the way early.
This time I filled some of the cookies with apricot jam and sealed the little cut-out shapes in the top layer with some white chocolate – what a treat! The ones without jam filling received a more abstract look with white and dark chocolate ornaments – easy, yet eye-catching.

Oh, and I still haven’t finalized my cookie-list this year, so when you have a recipe or link to share, one you deem a MUST HAVE on your Christmas cookie plate – please let me know about it in the comment section – maybe it will make an appearance on my plate, too.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon and salt.

Cut the cold butter into small cubes (or – if the butter is really well chilled – use a coarse grater) and add the egg. Quickly knead together by hand or with a pastry blender and form into a neat ball. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (~350°F) and line the baking trays with parchment paper. Take the dough out of the fridge and cut off half of it (put the other half back into the fridge). Dust a large wooden board with flour and roll out the dough until about 3 to 4 mm thick. Cut out the shapes of your choice and place on the baking trays, then continue with the other half (any dough scraps should be chilled before using again).

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (eat a test cookie, if your unsure when they are done, because their color is not really helping here), then take out and slide the parchment paper with the cookies off the tray, then you can let them cool down completely.

Decorate to your liking with either melted chocolate, a brush and a piping bag or a jam filling (heat the jam for some minutes, so it becomes easier spreadable). Store in an airtight cookie jar.

Cocoa cut-outs

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: ~30 minutes plus chilling, baking 8-10 minutes, plus decoration

Ingredients (yields about 3 trays):

300 g all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting the board)

100 g sugar (the finer, the better, but no confectioners sugar)

25 g unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp ceylon cinnamon

a pinch of salt

200 g butter (well chilled)

1 egg (large)

for decoration: apricot jam and/or white/dark chocolate

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