Christmas cookie season is alive and well. Speaking of, have you seen the holiday cookie spread in the new Foodie Crush Magazine? While you’re at it, you should start from the top and read it cover to cover. Pages filled with beautiful stories matched with jaw dropping images, not to mention the impeccably set type. (I’m a typography geek at heart.) Some of my favorite food bloggers like Two Peas & Their Pod, Bev Cooks, Turntable Kitchen, and With Style and Grace make the headlines. You can find my (world peace) cookie contribution on page 51. Take my word, this debut magazine is a beauty. Go. Read it now.
At Christmastime, my sister and I usually make sugar cookies with royal icing. We make my brother and husband decorate at least one cookie. Last year my husband’s cookie resembled the likes of Jackson Pollock. As a painter, I was proud. As a baker, I was horrified. There will be no royal icing this year. I’ve decided to go the non-traditional route. And these Chocolate Pretzels are kicking us off. Everyone one can get involved. Roll the dough into a snake and curl it into a pretzel. Sprinkle with some coarse sugar, and voilà! Their texture falls somewhere between a cracker and a cookie as does their taste. They’re only slightly sweet which I welcome this time of year. Bring on the Chocolate Pretzels.
- ¼ c. unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. good-quality instant espresso powder
- 3 tbsp. boiling water
- ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- ⅓ c. granulated sugar
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- ½ tsp. coarse salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 c. all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 large egg yolk
- Sanding sugar, for sprinkling
- Pour the boiling water in a small bowl. Stir in cocoa and espresso powder until dissolved. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until creamy. Add in vanilla and salt. Reduce speed to medium-low. Add in the egg followed by the cocoa mixture. Gradually add in flour, and mix until dough becomes smooth. Place dough on a piece of plastic wrap and form into a square. Wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 325°. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll each piece into 12-inch-long ropes. Twist each rope into a pretzel shape. With either end of the rope suspsended in the air, drop the curve of the dough on the pan, twist the ends once, and overlap with the bottom curve. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat.
- Whisk together egg yolk and 1 teaspoon water. Lightly brush pretzels with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar (or Turbinado). Bake cookies until dry, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.