Christmas is one of my favorite holidays (second only to Halloween), and one of my favorite things about Christmas is the baking. As a kid and young adult, my Mum and I used to have a baking marathon where we’d whip up 5-7 different kinds of cookies in a single day. Now that I live a little farther away and it isn’t always possible to get together to bake for the holidays, I’ve had to modify my Christmas baking plans. Of course, I could just simply cut down on the number of goodies I bake. But where would the fun be in that? So instead I have the countdown to Christmas baking marathon spread out over the month of December! Consider yourselves warned!
To start off the Christmas cookie baking season, here’s a new favorite of my husband and brother-in-law. Both of them love marzipan, and what better combination than cookies, frosting, AND marzipan?!
Chocolate Marzipan Cookies
Yields about 20 cookies
For the cookies:
1 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup granulate sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tbsp. baking cocoa
2 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 package marzipan
1 bar (100 grams) white chocolate, for garnish
2 sticks (226 grams) butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Start by preheating your oven to 375* Fahrenheit (190* Celsius) and lining a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream the vegetable shortening on high until smooth and add the sugar. To the sugar/vegetable shortening mix, add the baking soda, vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Add the egg and mix until it is thoroughly incorporated into the batter. Finally, add the flour one cup at a time, mixing between each new addition. The dough should no longer be sticky but if it is, you can add a little more flour. Set the dough in the refrigerator to chill until it’s a little more mailable, about 15 minutes.
The lower half of the cookies with the marzipan centers
On a lightly floured surface roll out the cookie dough until about 1/4 inch thick. I found that the dough was a little hard to work with at times, but going slow and adding flour as needed seemed to keep it from breaking apart. Using a circular cookie cutter or a glass, cut out the cookies and lay half of them aside. Roll out 20 small balls of marzipan and flatten them into little circular disks. You don’t want them too thick, otherwise the dough will break around the marzipan center. Lay the 20 disks of marzipan on the cut out cookies, and top with another cut out piece of cookie dough. Press the top layer around the edges so it’s sealed to the bottom. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes or until they have risen and begun to crack a little. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
The freshly baked cookies
In a medium bowl, cream the butter. Once the butter becomes smooth and creamy, add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Mix until all ingredients are combined and the mixture is once again creamy and smooth. I also added a little red food coloring to mine as I was feeling rather festive and Christmas-y at the time (blame it on the Christmas music I was listening to…), but you can also leave it plain. In fact, the original recipe I found for chocolate marzipan cookies didn’t even call for frosting, but my husband said they were really, really dry, so I decided to add a buttercream frosting to soften them up. So if you’re not a frosting fan, you can easily skip this step (although really, honestly, they were pretty dry without the frosting). To frost, I simply used a butter knife to spread the frosting on the cooled cookies, as it seemed to have a hard time sticking to the cookies when I piped it.
Frosted and ready for white chocolate!
Once the frosting has hardened a little bit (I left them overnight), melt the white chocolate and drizzle it over the nearly-finished cookies. And then try not to eat them all yourself. Seriously, I think my brother-in-law probably stared at them for a good minute or two after eating one. Love at first sight maybe?
Nothing says Christmas quite like a plate full of cookies!
Cookie recipe adapted from Familiens Jul 2012