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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

“Log On” Christmas Cookies

Hungry? It’s amazing how things can inspire one to bake. My most recent inspiration came from our surprise ice storm with its downed power lines and piles of limbs under the nearly 100-year old trees in our yard. All of those logs were so sad and no power to turn on the oven and bake up a batch of cookies to soothe my sadness and take the chill off. (Any excuse can inspire baking cookies in our house!) We are always hungry for cookies with one resident cookie monster and one eager cookie baker around.

If you live in an area out of town where fewer folks live, naturally you will be down the list for getting the power back on. After a week I was beyond thrilled to get back to baking and testing my ideas for making some cookies I thought about for a week: “Yule Logs.” Perhaps like the ones I had crafted for the holidays over the years with rich chocolate cake rolled around a coffee buttercream filling and coated with a bark of fudgy frosting.

Yule log cookies would be easy with refrigerated dough on hand. Certainly, if you have the time and inclination, use your own favorite slice and bake recipe, but any variety from your go-to grocery store will work. Draft some helpers to form the logs from the dough. (What little elf would not like a chance to play with cookie dough?)

Here’s the long and short of it: Make one long snake form about an inch thick and cut it into 3-inch segments. Or slice the cold dough into cookie-size segments and roll those portions into smaller logs. Chill the segments on the baking sheet before baking. Once chilled in place, I find that the tines of a fork raked or pressed into the dough will suffice as bark.

Decorating the long can be as simple as a sprinkle of powdered sugar snow, once the logs are cool, or get more elaborate with your favorite icing piped in long streams to resemble bark. Of course, you can go overboard if you like, or even make a family cookie making contest to see who makes the prettiest yule logs.

My favorite intensely chocolate cookie recipe is one I’ve adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Weddings” book. I cut back on the sugar and then form the dough into refrigerator rolls instead of doing the usual roll out and cutting into shapes.

The most important ingredient in the recipe is super dark Dutch Cacao. I found it at Jumbo Foods of course! It is expensive, but if you love chocolate like some people I know….it is a matter of priority. Each recipe requires a lot of it so don’t think one and a half cups of this deep dark stuff is a misprint!

Keep some dough (cookie dough that is) on hand in your freezer for satisfying those cookie cravings that are bound to happen, especially during the holidays. I have told people over the years that I’m a little like Will Rogers— I never met a cookie I didn’t like! ….so “Log ON!”

*I owe a big batch of cookies to the folks at OG&E, especially the lineman who put their lives on the line to work through freezing rain and all kinds of weather to keep our homes and businesses up and running!

Recipe

This is an adaptation of a Chocolate Heart Cookies recipe from Martha Stewart’s “Weddings” book. I recommend you make half a recipe to start with as this dark cocoa powder has a way of spreading chocolate dust like the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s if you aren’t careful!

I like to form the dough into rolls for slice and bake cookies or in this case roll it into coils or snakes and cut into log forms in the spirit of the Yuletide. If you have any helper elves in your kitchen, think of it as chocolate playdough!

3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup Sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 1/2 cups Dutch cacao (Droste)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (optional)

Combine butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into butter mixture by hand until well blended. Chill briefly and roll into slice and bake size logs. Dough may be stored in fridge for up to 3 days until ready to form into yule logs. 

To make logs:

Divide prepared dough and roll into coils like snakes about 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Slice into logs approximately 3 inches long. 

Place logs on baking sheet and chill for about 30 minutes. Mark logs with tines of a fork by dragging length of logs or press tines into the surface of each log to make bark.          

Position oven rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350-degrees. 

Bake logs for 10 to 12 minutes. 

When cool, dust with powdered sugar or decorate with your favorite chocolate icing.

  • Cooking notes: This dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days and also freezes well in slice and bake rolls. (Best to thaw several hours or overnight in the fridge before using.) 
  • Caution elves not to eat unbaked dough…and keep the dough and cookies away from all pets especially your favorite puppy dog. 
Sherrel Jones
Sherrel Jones
Sherrel Jones, known locally as Editor of the original Junior Welfare League’s “Stir-Ups” cookbook grew up with an intense love of cooking. Long before her 17-year food columnist days at the Oklahoman, she was in the kitchens and gardens of her family’s farms. “Stir-Ups” was a catalyst for more discovery and inspiration as Sherrel pursued her food education in the United States as well as Italy and France.

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