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Chocolate Sugar Cookies

For Chocolate Sugar Cookies:  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until it forms a smooth dough. Divide in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Remove one half of the chilled dough from the fridge and, on a lightly floured surface, roll to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, so it does not stick to the counter.) Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the baking sheet. Place the baking sheets in the fridge for 15 minutes to chill the dough to prevent the cookies from losing their shape while baking. (If not frosting the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar.) Bake cookies for about 10-12 minutes (depending on size) or until they are firm around the edges. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure that the frosting on the cookies dries completely before storing. (This may take several hours.) Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Makes about 36 - 4 inch (10 cm) cookies.

Royal Icing with Egg Whites: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Mix in food coloring, if desired. The icing needs to be used immediately or put in an airtight container. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add water and beat on medium high speed until glossy and stiff peaks form (5 minutes). If necessary, add more powdered sugar or water. Mix in food coloring, if desired. To cover the entire surface of the cookie with icing, proper consistency is when you lift beater, the ribbon of icing that falls into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds. The icing needs to be used immediately or put in an airtight container. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies:

2 3/4 cups (355 grams) all purpose flour

3/4 cup (75 grams) unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups (350 grams) granulated white sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

2 large (60 grams) egg whites

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

3 cups (345 grams) powdered sugar, sifted OR

Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:

4 cups (440 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder

1/2 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2 cup - 3/4 cup (120 - 180 ml)  warm water