Having pilfered more than my fair share of the Christmas cookies MIL sent Spouse, I thought I should replace them. Luckily, MIL is the sort of mother who painstakingly writes out her favorite recipes in a fancy, spiral-bound book, so her only child can enjoy the taste of home no matter how far away he is living. Unluckily, MIL is the sort of cook who cooks from memory and measures ingredients by the pinch or pawful. Which is to say, the ingredients lists on the Christmas cookie recipes were all missing at least one vital ingredient, which you would only discover when you got to step 5 of the instructions and the instructions, when they were doing their best to be helpful, said things like bake in oven instead of just bake but never mentioned anything about times or temperatures.
But I gave it the old college try and wound up putting my own twist on everything. And you know what? We ended up with edible cookies. By my standards, these aren’t particularly Christmassy cookies, but I’m not German (and, heck, I’m not even Christian) so what do I know about German Christmas cookies? But I think the dough for the Cocoa Nut Cookies (which is my I think quite brilliant name for them; MIL just calls them Cocoa Balls, but in German) would actually work pretty well for homemade Oreo cookies, but that’s another recipe for another time, after I’ve done some experimenting with sandwich fillings.
Anyway, these are easy on the single use packaging compared to store-bought cookies and can be made vegan by swapping in vegetable shortening for the butter.
Cocoa Nut Cookies
Theoretical yield: 35 cookies
- 250 g (1 cup) butter (VEGAN OPTION: vegetable shortening)
- 100 g (½ cup) sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or one 8 g packet vanilla sugar or just skip it because the cocoa is going to swamp it anyway)
- 200 g (1 and 2/3 cups) flour
- 150 g (1 cup) potato starch (if you can’t find it, try in a store that sells Jewish or German groceries)
- 30 g (5 heaping Tbsp) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 8 g (2 tsp) baking powder
- ~35 walnut halves or whole hazelnuts (minus the shell)
- powdered sugar for dusting
- Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in flour, starch, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
- WALNUT OPTION: form a traditionally shaped cookie around each walnut half, so it looks like you pressed a walnut half onto the cookie from above.
- HAZELNUT OPTION: form a cookie-sized dough ball around each hazelnut.
- Bake on lined baking tray ~15 minutes at 350°F/177°C. Cool on a rack.
- When cool, sprinkle with or roll in powdered sugar.