Two reason I’m not: A) I’m nowhere near organized enough for that and B) I like cookie dough way too much. Any dough that I keep in my freezer I quickly eat. Very, very quickly. Why is frozen cookie dough even better than regular room temperature dough is??? Why?
No guarantees that these salty-sweet shortbread cookies will magically make me into one of those organized human beings. But I might be a step closer—assuming I can avoid eating the two logs of dough currently residing in the back of my freezer. But these really are the ultimate make-ahead baked good because you can bake as few or as many at a time as you want. Just slice a few rounds off and bake.
They’re kind of the little black dress of cookies; you can dress them up to go with coffee after a dinner party or down to eat as an afternoon snack. They’re super simple but full of flavor and—dare I say?—sophisticated. As sophisticated as a shortbread cookie can really be. Slightly crunchy but not crumbly, lightly chocolate flavored, a little salty, with some of warmth at the end from the pepper, they’ve sooooo made the cut to be on my Christmas cookie trays this year.
Please don’t hate me for talking about Christmas already.
I can usually resist eating cookies that I have a designated use for. Like Christmas cookies. You could definitely make a batch of dough in October or November and bake them off in December to arrange neatly on a cookie tray. (I actually am organized enough to make obnoxiously huge cookie trays most years.)
I almost passed right by this recipe in my much-loved copy of Baking: From My Home to Yours. But something told me to read the head notes and I realized these are slice-and-bake cookies. Why would I be tempted to make a slice-and-bake cookie? Nostalgia. I’ve never made cookies specifically labeled slice-and-bake but remembered that Babysitter’s Club Little Sister used to make them. She also used to make something called “chocolate chippers” if memory serves but I imagine that’s just a regular old chocolate chip cookie
Happy first Monday in October!
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg yolk + 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely (and freshly) ground black pepper, plus more for garnish
- Sift flour and cocoa powder together several times in a small mixing bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat 1 minute more. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, salt, pepper, and beat until smooth. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Add the flour-cocoa mixture in 3 additions, beating on low until just incorporated after each addition.
- Divide dough in half. Roll each half into a log 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick and about 6 inches long. (If dough is too soft to work with you can refrigerate it for about 10 minutes—that should make it a bit firmer.) Roll the log back and forth with your palms to ensure you work out any hollows there might be in the center of the dough. Wrap each log in plastic wrap, twisting the ends of the plastic to tighten the rolls. Refrigerate at least 4 hours.*
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. With a sharp knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch rounds. Place rounds on prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1 inch in between.
- Combine the whole egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Beat well to combine in a small bowl and brush lightly over the top of each round. Sprinkle a tiny bit of salt and pepper on each cookie.**
- Bake for 14 to 16 minutes, until cookies are somewhat firm to the touch. Remove cookies from baking sheets and cool completely on a wire rack.
- *At this point, you can refrigerate the dough for up to 4 days or freeze for about 2 months. If you freeze your dough, slice and bake the cookies frozen but add about 2 minutes to the baking time.
- **This step is unnecessary, but I think it makes the cookies super cute. If you’re short on time just skip it.