Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

This year I'm participating in a holiday cookie exchange. I really don't have a holiday cookie that I make every year, so I started looking online. Even though I'm not a big fan of sugar cookies, this recipe caught my interest. I am a HUGE dark chocolate lover; not only does it work to heighten my mood on a rough day, it shows promise as an alternative depression treatment. Any excuse I can get to eat some quality chocolate, I'll take!

This recipe was simple, yet time intensive. I could blame my kids for it taking all day, but that wouldn't be fair. Between letting the butter soften, and then rotating cookie dough between the fridge, freezer, and oven, plan on this taking the good part of a morning or afternoon. I would also suggest making sure you have 3 cookie pans ready - one to place newly cut dough on, one baking in the oven, and one cooling on the stove top - for maximum efficiency.

6 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1-1/4 cups dark cocoa powder
2 cups (4 sticks) salted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs, cold
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in eggs until just combined.
Add flour mixture and vanilla, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined.

Split dough into quarters, form balls, and place each ball on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter. Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2" thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with each ball of dough. Chill discs of dough for about 45 minutes.

Remove one disc and remove plastic wrap. Place on top of a large piece of parchment paper (I used a silicone rolling mat underneath to keep it from slipping while rolling), then place two 1/4" wooden dowels on either side of your dough (they will help your dough roll to an even thickness), then another sheet of parchment paper.
Roll dough (this will require a lot of muscle for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) so it's flush with dowels.Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a spare cookie sheet, then place in refrigerator for about 15 minutes.

Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters of your choice, placing them on a baker's half sheet lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment), with 2" clearance around each one and the edge of sheet.
(This is when you should preheat your oven to 325*)

Place sheet with cookies into freezer for 15 minutes. Pull out and bake until cookie edges are just crisp, about 12 minutes for cookies under 3" across, and about 15 minutes for cookies over 3" across.
Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.

Repeat steps 3-5. This is where rotating the pans comes in handy. I have a pan in the fridge with the rolled out dough (step 3), a pan in the freezer with cut shapes (step 4), and a pan baking in the oven (step 5). Since each step is about 15 minutes, everything moves to the next step at the same time.

This recipe ended up making 24 small (2"), 48 medium (3"), and 12 large cookies (4") cookies, plus the quarter cup or so of dough the kids and I ate!

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