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Recipe of the Week: A decadent start to the Christmas cookie season


I recently spent a few days in Hershey, Pa., and was reminded of how much I enjoy chocolate.

Chocolate is everywhere in Hershey, starting with our check-in at Hershey Lodge. Forget about finding chocolates on your pillow; they gave us each a full-size chocolate bar.

Of course there is chocolate in the air there, especially with a candy/gift store in the lobby.

When we dined with friends at the Chocolatier Restaurant near Hershey Park, we found chocolate in surprising places. A house salad is dressed in a cocoa/raspberry vinaigrette, while a cocoa spice rub flavors the New York strip steak. Chocolate barbecue sauce adorns the mac and cheese, while the Cuban black beans and rice include cocoa- and chipotle-rubbed shrimp.

Finding chocolate in so many unexpected places reminded me that Christmas cookie displays rarely include chocolate cookies; traditionally chocolate chip are the only ones found on a cookie plate. You might find chocolate shortbread, but those sightings are rare.

Keeping in mind that homemade chocolate chip cookies go fast, we are starting our favorite cookie season with chocolate cookies in the mix.

Here is a recipe for chocolate cutout cookies from the website Maybe we can start a new trend. If not, we can always put out a box of chocolates or make more chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Cutout Cookies

1 cup cold butter (2 sticks) cut into ½ -inch cubes

1 ½ cups sugar

2 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup cocoa

¼ teaspoon salt

1 cup milk chocolate chips

¾ cup white chips

1 ½ tablespoons shortening (do not use butter, margarine, spread or oil)

1. Beat butter and sugar in large mixer bowl just until well blended. Add eggs; beat until combined.

2. Stir together flour, cocoa and salt; gradually add to butter mixture until dough gathers into ball and pulls away from the mixing bowl sides. Divide dough into 4 equal sections; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line several cookie sheets with parchment paper. One dough section at a time, roll out to about 1/4-inch thickness between two pieces of parchment or wax paper. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer to prepared cookie sheet.

4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Remove cookie sheet from oven to wire rack. Allow cookies to cool completely on cookie sheet before removing. Repeat rolling and baking cookie dough until all cookies are made.

5. Line several cookie sheets or trays with parchment paper; place cooled cookies on prepared sheets. Place milk chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium (50%) 1 minute; stir. If necessary, microwave at medium an additional 15 seconds at a time, stirring after each heating, until chips are melted and mixture is smooth when stirred. Drizzle over cookies.

6. Repeat melting and drizzling procedure with white creme chips and remaining shortening. Allow drizzles to firm. Store cookies flat in one layer in cool, dry place or in refrigerator.