When it comes to holiday cookies, my family is notoriously picky about flavors and textures. My son and I love chocolate in everything, but my husband prefers light, dry cookies with just a hint of chocolate. Since all of us enjoy aromatic and spicy tastes, a few Christmases ago I created a cookie to please all of our palates – it features cocoa, cinnamon and cloves.
These Spicy Ornaments echo the sparkle of Christmas and the excitement of opening gifts. Be patient and enjoy the cookie – it will surprise you with a zesty finish!
When I entered this recipe in the Holiday Cookie Bakeoff this past November, it became one of fifty finalists. It resulted in the LA Times becoming a follower of The Kitchen Buzzz. Thanks to all my supporters who voted for Spicy Ornaments and Happy Holidays.
Prep time: 45 minutes
Bake time: 12 to 14 minutes
Makes: 32 to 34 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
¾ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon chipotle ahumado powder
1-1/3 cups granulated sugar
½ cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup red crystal sugars, set in a small bowl
¼ cup green crystal sugars, set in a small bowl
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
2-1/2 to 3 teaspoons cold water
Pastry bag fitted with a narrow tip
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F. Grease and flour two large, nonstick rectangular baking sheets; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a 1-quart bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and chipotle ahumado powder; set aside.
3. In a 4-quart bowl, beat together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until mixture is uniform, about 2 minutes.
4. Stir in the combined dry ingredients and beat on medium-high until a dough is formed, about 2 to 4 minutes.
5. Pulling off pieces of dough, form 1-1/2-inch balls and set them on a flat surface.
6. Roll half of the dough balls in the red crystal sugars and other half in the green crystal sugars (about 16 to 17 balls of each color). Divide dough balls evenly and set on baking sheets, spaced two inches apart.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Invert the sheets and bake an additional 6 to 7 minutes or until cookie tops crack and feel slightly firm to the touch.
8. Remove baking sheets from oven and set on a counter. With a spatula, immediately transfer the cookies to a flat surface to cool.
9. In a 2-cup bowl, vigorously stir the powdered sugar and 2-1/2 teaspoons of the water until mixture is smooth. The icing should feel thick and not watery. If it is too firm, add a little more water. Transfer icing to the bag, pushing it all the way down to the tip.
10. Holding bag firmly in hand, decorate the surface cracks of the cookies with curvilinear designs.
11. Spicy Ornaments can be made two weeks ahead and stored in freezer in double plastic food bags (without the icing).
To thaw: remove cookies from freezer and from plastic bags. Set them on a platter at room temperature for two hours. Decorate with icing before serving.
Note: Chipotle ahumado powder can be purchased online at GOURMETSLEUTH.COM.
Text and Photographs ©2010 Nancy DeLucia Real