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Cherries, nuts accent cocoa cookies

My kids are great sports about making gingerbread.

But my oldest son, in particular, really gets into the decorating when I break out mini chocolate chips. This year, he even devised a pattern of chocolate-chip spikes for a dinosaur-shaped cookie.

So I know he’d love a classic chocolate cookie in our holiday baking roster. Even better for him — and the whole family — would be cookies studded with pistachios and dried sour cherries, a household snack that’s replaced plain, old trail mix over the past year.

Similar to snickerdoodles, featured in my previous post, this dough freezes well and could provide a little post-holiday pick-me-up whenever the mood strikes.

Tribune News Service photo

Chocolate Cookie Dough

2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1 cup sugar

1 large egg

2 teaspoons pure vanilla

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until combined. Dough can be refrigerated overnight or frozen for up to a month.

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Line baking sheets with Silpat baking mats or parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place on prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until set, for about 8 minutes. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

For chocolate pistachio sea salt cookies: Mix 1 cup chopped pistachios into prepared cookie batter. Portion as directed and right before baking, sprinkle coarse or flaky sea salt on top. Bake as directed.

For Mexican hot chocolate cookies: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon chile powder to batter along with flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Portion and bake as directed.

For smoked chocolate cherry cookies: Add a handful of dried cherries (about 3/4 cup) and 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to prepared cookie batter and mix until incorporated. Portion and bake as directed.