I have one of my favorite cookies here for you today! These chocolate slice and bake cookies are easy to make, store well, and will disappear at your next holiday celebration or party. And I’ve included a how-to with ALL the step by step photos you will need to make these successfully the first time.
I don’t know if you are as busy as I am (though I’m sure you’re juggling all sorts of commitments with time at a premium!), but I think everyone can use a no-fuss cookie recipe any time of the year. That’s why I have an easy, make ahead cookie recipe for you today! One which you can keep simple or fancy up as much as you want. (And yes, I do fancy it up. I can’t resist. /sheepish)
These cookies are awesome for Christmas, Easter, Memorial Day, birthdays, and all sorts of get-togethers!
Holiday Butter Cookies
For many years, one of my favorite chocolate cookie doughs has been based on Cook’s Illustrated’s Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies. (You do need an account to see the recipe.) They have a rich flavor, slice up nicely, can be rolled out if you wish, and lend themselves to all sorts of variations.
This can be as simple as rolling the log of dough into decorative sugars or ground up nuts before slicing and baking. And then maybe a dollop of chocolate ganache or a glaze or a favorite frosting. Or not since the cookies themselves are rich and chocolatey and tender, making them hard to resist even if you have them plain.
But, let’s just say that you want to fancy them up and need a couple of suggestions. You know, hypothetically. 😉
Cast your eyes up and you’ll see some chocolate slice and bake cookies which have been dipped in white and dark chocolate and flavored with peppermint. The husband calls these Double Chocolate Peppermint Dipped Cookies ‘what thin mints should taste like’ and I just call them delicious. The secret here is using melting wafers! They melt smoothly and harden up nicely with no tempering needed.
And they are seriously awesome if you are looking for something to put out on your Christmas cookie tray.
For another idea, you can make sandwich cookies! I filled these with a butterscotch frosting and topped them with a little chocolate drizzle to make Chocolate Butterscotch Sandwich Cookies. For this recipe, you can do slice and bake or roll out the dough and use a cutter for the scalloped edges. Either way, they are delicious!
And, of course, you can top them with colored icing and sprinkles, buy little tubes of decorative cookie frosting and make designs, or just eat them as is.
What do you need?
- Cocoa Powder/Espresso – The chocolate flavor comes from cocoa with a boost from espresso powder.
- Butter – These are butter cookies, so you need a fair amount!
- Egg Yolks – Just the yolks to provide structure and tenderness.
- Sugar/Flour – The dry ingredients. Hard to have a sweet dough without some form of each.
- Seasonings – Vanilla and salt.
How to make this
To make chocolate slice and bake cookies mix cocoa and espresso powders with melted butter and let cool. Then cream together more the cocoa butter with sugar and more butter, add eggs and flour, and shape into a log. Let chill. Once chilled, slice and bake.
- Melt 4 tablespoons of butter, then mix with the cocoa and espresso. Set aside to cool.
- Cream together more butter with sugar and the butter cocoa mixture.
- Add eggs and vanilla, then stir in flour.
- Shape the dough into a rough log.
- Use parchment paper and a bench scraper (or ruler) to make the dough into an even cylinder.
- When ready to bake, slice off cookies and bake in a 375F oven until done.
1. Bloom the cocoa
If you want dark and rich chocolate flavor with cocoa powder, the best way to achieve that is to bloom the cocoa powder. To bloom the cocoa powder for these cookies, melt a portion of the butter and whisk in the cocoa. Then let cool so you can add the bloomed cocoa to the dough.
What do you mean by blooming?
It’s easy enough! Blooming cocoa is done by mixing cocoa powder with a hot liquid.
In this recipe we are mixing the cocoa powder with hot butter. Other recipes can use hot milk, water, coffee, or oil. The exact type of hot liquid doesn’t matter. What matters is that the liquid is heated and the cocoa is mixed in.
Hot liquids help release the flavors in the cocoa, making for a richer and deep flavor.
2. Cream together butter and sugar
By creaming together the butter and sugar, you will whip air into the dough and this will make for a more tender cookie. For best results, whip together the butter and sugar on high speed for 3-4 minutes.
Once that’s done, mix in the eggs and vanilla and then scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Why scrape the bowl? To make sure everything is well mixed.
3. Add the flour
You want to add the flour a bit at a time (by thirds) with the mixer on low. This will keep the cookies from getting tough and overmixing the flour. I stop the mixer when there is a little flour still unmixed and then use my spatula to finish it up.
We want tender NOT tough with plenty of chocolate flavor. All these steps will ensure you get a great result!
4. Shape the dough
Begin by forming the dough into a rough log about 12 inches long. You can see in the photos it’s dented and not completely even. This is OKAY! These next steps are going to turn this log into a smooth cylinder and keep it that way.
Step 1 – Take a piece of parchment and fold it over the top so that it completely covers the log with some room on the ends. Then take your bench scraper and press on the parchment along the side of the log between the dough and the table top. Check out the photo since it’s much easier to see than describe!
Go back and forth along the length until your log is all smooth and straight.
Step 2 – Fill the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish (or another container which will fit your dough cylinder) with dry beans, rice, lentils, or any other small, clean item you have in quantity. Then place the wrapped log on the bed of rice or beans and nestle it in.
This will keep your dough from getting flat in the fridge as it chills!
5. Slice and bake
The last thing you need to do before eating is to slice the dough 1/4 inch thick and then bake them for about 10 minutes at 375F. Once they are baked, give them a rest for a few minutes (so they can firm up) and then move them to a cooling rack.
Note: If you want them to have decorative edges (if you are giving the cookies a simple ganache topping or a drizzle of chocolate), roll the cylinder of dough in coarse sugar or chopped nuts just before slicing.
If you try my recipe for Chocolate Slice and Bake Cookies, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Happy Baking, Annemarie
Chocolate Slice and Bake Cookies
- 20 tbsp (2 1/2 sticks, 10 oz) unsalted butter, cool room temperature, divided
- 1/2 cup (2 oz) cocoa powder
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cup (11 1/4 oz) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp table salt
- Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the cocoa powder and espresso powder to make a smooth paste. Let cool for 15 minutes.
- In a standing mixer with the flat beater, cream together the remaining butter with the sugar and the butter/cocoa mixture. Mix on high for 3-4 minutes, or until it is light and fluffy.
- Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Mix on medium until combined. Scrape down the bowl and mix for 1 minute.
- Stir together the flour and salt.
- Set the mixer to low. Add the flour by thirds (1/3 at a time) and mix each addition until just combined, scraping down the bowl of the mixer before adding the next.
- Once you've added all the flour, take the bowl off the mixer and use a spatula to finish mixing and make sure you have a cohesive dough.
- Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment paper and then shape the dough into a rough log, about 12 inches long.
- Wrap the parchment paper around the log so that it wraps around the log and covers it completely with some room on both ends.
- Take the top side of the parchment and tuck it in against the log to make a fold. Use a bench scraper to press along the fold and even out the log of the dough into a smooth cylinder.
- Chill the dough until completely firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. (If you are storing the dough in the refrigerator for more than a few hours, put it in a sealed bag.)
- Heat oven to 375F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Slice the cookies 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Then rest the cookies on the tray for 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack.
- Shaping the dough cylinder: I have photos in the body of the post showing the rough log, shaping the cylinder, and wrapping the ends if my explanation is at all unclear.
- Maintaining the round shape: To keep the bottom of the cylinder from flattening as it chills in the refrigerator, use dry beans. (or rice, lentils, etc.) Put the beans in a container large enough for the cookie dough and then lay the cylinder of dough on top of it. (Dry beans also make excellent pie weights. You can't eat them after, but you can use the same beans over and over again. Just cool and store in a bag.)
- Resting the cookies: They are very tender when you first take them out of the oven. Resting them allows them to firm up so you can move the cookies without breaking them.
- Freezing: The dough can be frozen after you shape it into a log. Wrap the log well and put it into a sealed bag. It can be frozen for up to three months. To bake, thaw the dough in the refrigerator overnight and then slice and bake as directed.
- Lining the cookies sheets: I don't always line the baking sheets and it's not been a problem for me. To be absolutely sure the cookies won't stick it is best to use parchment paper.
- Recipe Inspiration: Cook's Illustrated Mexican Chocolate Butter Cookies.