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Chocolate Sugar Cookies

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. Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl as needed. Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough.

Divide the dough in half and then roll each half between two sheets of parchment or wax paper until it is about 1/4 inch (.5 cm) thick. As you roll, periodically check the top and bottom sheets of parchment and smooth out any wrinkles. Then place dough on a baking sheet (along with the parchment paper) and place in the refrigerator until cold and very firm (about two hours or even overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Once chilled, remove one sheet of dough from the refrigerator and peel off the top piece of parchment paper. Using about a 3 inch (7 cm) cookie cutter, cut out the cookies. Place on the baking sheet, spacing the cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Gather up any scraps of leftover dough and re-roll. (You may need to refrigerate the dough again before cutting out the cookies.) Note: If the cookies are soft, place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking. (Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you may want to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with crystal or 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 the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. 

Makes about 30 - 3 inch (8 cm) cookies.

Royal Icing with Egg Whites: In the large bowl whisk  the egg whites with the lemon juice (can use an electric stand mixer or hand mixer). Add the sifted powdered sugar and whisk until combined and smooth. Mix in food coloring, if desired. The icing is at the consistency for piping a border around the outside edge of each cookie. Place the icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (I used a Wilton #6) and pipe a border around each cookie. Then, to cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, add a little water to make the icing thinner. (The proper consistency is when a ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.) Then pipe or spread the icing within the border of each cookie. Place the cookies on a wire rack until the icing dries (this could take several hours). Note: royal icing needs to be used immediately as it hardens when exposed to the air. So cover with plastic wrap or transfer to an airtight container 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 the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. Mix in food coloring, if desired. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

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. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

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 (2 grams) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (4 grams) baking powder

1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature

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

2 large eggs, at room temperature (110 grams without shell)

2 teaspoons (8 grams) pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

2 large (60 grams) egg whites, at room temperature

2 teaspoons (8 grams) freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 cups (345 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:

4 cups (440 grams) powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder

1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) almond extract (optional)

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

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