Cookies for Holiday Gatherings

I’ve been baking for holiday potlucks and gatherings.  I enjoy the surprise and sense of offering of gatherings where everyone brings something of their own to share.  These cookies are easy, attractive, and not as bad for you (if bad means refined flour and sugar, high cholesterol and fat, no nutritional value other than calories) as they could be.  I try to use all organic ingredients (except the baking soda and the spirits); the butter and eggs are available locally; I choose fair trade, as well as organic, cocoa.

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsps baking soda

pinch of salt

3/4 cup butter (at about room temperature — no more than 65F; do not melt or microwave)

1 cup sucanat (evaporated cane juice)

splash of brandy or other spirits

1 egg (beaten)

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl.  Cream butter in large bowl; beat in sucanat and then brandy; mix in egg until smooth.  Gradually mix dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Chill dough well.  When dough is chilled enough to shape without it sticking to your hands, roll dough into small balls.  Put on cookie sheet and press down slightly.  Bake at 325-350F for 8-10 minutes.  Makes 4-5 dozen small cookies.

Variations:  Replace butter with vegetable shortening and egg with egg replacer for vegan cookies.  Add a tablespoon or two of ground cinnamon to the dry mixture and replace the brandy with kahlua for the taste of Abuelita (Mexican hot chocolate).  Replace brandy with peppermint schnapps for cocoa-mint cookies.  Add a teaspoon or two of dried ginger for cocoa-ginger snaps.


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