Stars may be one of my favorite shapes to use for cookies. They always have nice crisp edges and a fun holiday flair. They also have followed me around for some reason between the twin stars of Kappa Alpha Theta, one of my favorite paintings is Starry Night, and one of my favorite memories as a child is taking a hay wagon out into the middle of the Alisal Ranch and seeing the night sky with very little if any light pollution.
Normally, when I pull out the cookie cutters I am pretty traditional and LOVE my Betty Crocker sugar cookie recipe. Hands down it is a no fail recipe. It will end up on here at some point in the next few months particularly with Valentines Day around the corner (I love my heart shaped cookie cutters almost as much as my stars).
Due to my recent obsession with the peppermint frosting, I decided to opt for a chocolate cookie. After searching a little bit, I chose a recipe out of Fine Cooking’s Holiday Cookies issue from 2010.
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Hand mixer with the paddle not whisk attachments
2 sizes of star cookie cutters
Cooling rack (I used to just use a few paper towels if that helps)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter softened
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
6 tbsp light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 2/3 cups flour
1/4 cup Dutch-Processed Cocoa (to be honest, I used Hershey’s because its what I had and they were delicious)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Your favorite jam
Now How do I do This?
I always start with wet ingredients. I am a firm believer that its better to start with the wet so if your butter wasn’t soft enough to begin with it has a few extra minutes to soften while it sits mingling with the sugar. Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl with the hand mixer and once soft and fluffy add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix thoroughly.
While the original recipe did not call for this, I sifted all my dry ingredients into a larger bowl because I’ve found that to be effective with my sugar cookies. Once sifted, whisk them together to make sure its all mixed up.
Slowly, I like to use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to add the flour mixture to your wet ingredients and mix each time. Use your whisk each time to scrape down the edges of your bowl to make sure your are getting all the dry mixed in.
Once everything is together, split the dough in half and wrap it in Saran Wrap. If you are going to do this a day in advance like I did (which I have never been organized enough to do before) you can put them in the fridge to store until you are ready. If you plan on doing this a LONG time in advance put them in the freezer and then put in the fridge the day before you use them. Take the dough out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you want to use it so it can soften enough to roll. If you are going to roll the same day, put the dough in the freezer for 20-30 minutes until it feels firmer.
Grab your pastry cloth or mat and sprinkle with flour and ditto to your rolling pin. Roll out your dough until it is a little less than a 1/4 inch thick. Cut parchment paper to fit your baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 350.
I used a few different techniques to cut out the star outlines and found that the best technique varied with the temperature of the dough at a given point. If the dough was cooler and harder, you could cut out the big star, place it on the baking sheet, and use the smaller star and cut right out of it. If it was warmer I would leave the larger cookie cutter on the star, cut the smaller one inside and slowly lift the smaller star out by tilting the small cookie cutter back ensuring that the dough stayed inside. If this didn’t work, I used the aid of a hard spatula underneath both stars to push the little one out until I could lift it out easily. ***Do not under any circumstances try to transfer the star outline from your rolling surface to the baking sheet. You need to cut it out on the baking sheet.***
Bake for exactly 6 minutes. My cookies came out perfectly at 6 minutes. I didn’t need to rotate the baking sheets or anything. Wait a couple of minutes and transfer your cookies to a cooling rack (or paper towel). If you are using 2 baking sheets, this is a perfect amount of time to be cutting out new cookies placing them on the other sheet etc. You’ll figure out a routine that works well for you.
Now for the frosting! I used a modified version of the peppermint frosting from last week. Essentially I worked harder to crush the peppermint pieces more finely and then (I’m crazy I know) by hand picked out the bigger pieces. It made the much easier to piece together and then I used the big pieces to decorate the center of the cookies. I frosted one side of the whole star cookie, placed the cutout on top and then sprinkled excess peppermint chunks in the center! I then used all the tiny stars and filled them with a raspberry, peach, champagne jelly but you can use your favorite.
Put them on a plate to take to a party or put them in a tiny box and send them to friends!