Chocolate pretzel cookies

Just about two weeks to Christmas and I’m baking a batch of cookies almost daily. I am rather a slacker as far as decorating the house for the jolly season is concerned. We will be leaving anyway to spend the holidays with my family in the Czech Republic. But at least the house smells like Christmas.

Now, there are several categories of Christmas cookies:

  • 1. cookies almost every family I know makes (Linzer cookies, hazelnut crescents)
    2. cookies that some of the families make
    3. cookies apparently only I make

As this recipe comes from an old book on Christmas cookies (first published in 1921), I don’t really know why this cookie falls into the last category. I mean: am I the only one who inherited this book from their grandmother?

Because it really can’t be the recipe’s fault: dark and chocolaty and such a pretty shape! There is relatively little sugar in the dough and a lot of dark cocoa, which makes it a bit more grown-up. But I roll it in icing sugar after baking to give it a sweet crust and after this treatment it appeals to children, too. And in any case, they enjoy shaping the pretzels.

Chocolate pretzel cookies
adapted from M. Janku-Sandtnerova: Cukrovinky a pamlsky (1921)
makes about 30-40 cookies
150 g all-purpose flour
35 g sugar
100 g butter
40 g cocoa powder, Dutch process
1 egg yolk

In a medium bowl, mix the flour with the sugar and cocoa powder. Add the butter and cut it in small pieces with two knives or a pastry blender. Add the egg yolk and mix everything quickly. Unlike other doughs, which are best chilled first, it is better to shape the pretzels immediately. Very cold dough is difficult to roll into ropes.
Preheat the oven to 160 Celsius.
Divide the dough into 30 to 40 pieces (depending on how keen you are on miniatures). Roll each piece into a 15 cm rope. Twist into a pretzel shape. Put the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let the cookies rest in a cool place (if you have access to any) for a while to help them keep their shape during baking. Bake about 10 to 12 min.
Roll the cookies in icing sugar in a small bowl while still warm.

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