Egyptian Chocolate Butter Cookies

On this Labor Day, like any other holiday, a heap of decorated cookies must always be present. Traditionally, sugar cookies reign supreme amongst family gatherings but today in this house it is all about the butter cookie. To make the day festive, I chose fun and unique shapes inspired by the style of Ancient Egyptians. To complete the theme through color and flavor, I chose chocolate as the star and a solid basis for gold and red accents.

 To start off on the right foot, knowing your basics about chocolate is key to achieving a desirable rich chocolate flavor and avoiding the typical bland butter cookie. The differences between chocolate varieties lie in the percentage of cocoa solids and fat. For example, the sweetened variety of chocolate, such as bittersweet, only contains 35 percent cocoa solids, which are responsible for the rich chocolate flavor profile we all crave. The remaining percentage consists of sugar and cocoa butter. For this formula, cocoa powder is necessary because it contains up to 90 percent cocoa solids, it won’t alter the texture as melted chocolate does, and best of all it doesn’t contribute added fat.

If you desire an intense chocolate flavor profile as much as I, bloom cocoa powder in butter with a bit of instant espresso. The butter creates more flavor molecules for our taste buds and the espresso powder contains hints of bitterness, a complimentary quality found in cocoa powder. When combined, the warm paste exudes rich, chocolatey goodness.

While in the oven, the chocolate aroma filing into the kitchen through a warm cloud may signify to the novice that the formula is a success, however if all of the chocolate flavor is lost into the air it will make for a bland, crispy bore later. The only hope of saving it would be a tall glass of milk or perfect timing for removal from the oven. Seeing as the dough is a dark hue, this can be a daunting task for the home baker, and often avoided at all costs. Since there is a lack of visual clues such as browning edges, the easiest way to tell if the cookies are done is by gently pressing your finger on the cookie’s center. If there is a slight resistance to the touch, they are ready to be cooled. If left in the oven beyond this point, the edges will darken and the flavor will turn bitter.

 For the best chocolate flavor profile in a butter cookie, I recommend using Dutch-processed cocoa powder, however natural cocoa powder is a suitable substitute. Espresso powder provides an interesting complexity to the cocoa powder, but when in a pickle, instant coffee can be substituted. If you mix up the chocolate butter cookie dough but are unable to bake it the same day, don’t fret… it will keep up to three days refrigerated. Once baked and cooled, the cookies should be dusted with confectioners’ sugar or glazed with chocolate to maintain freshness. Stored properly at room temperature, these cookies will remain fresh up to three days.

Although dusting with confectioners’ sugar is an easy decor option, I chose to decorate these cookies with a thin spread of bittersweet chocolate glaze. Once the glaze set up firmly, I used gold edible luster dust and red piping gel to create design accents relative to the cookie shape and theme of Ancient Egypt. If you are located in a warm and humid environment, it may be necessary to give the decorated cookies a quick blast in the refrigerator to firm the glaze up more quickly. No matter what decor you choose, these chocolate butter cookies are sure to be as fun to make and good to eat as they look…

Chocolate Butter Cookies


  • 20 tbsp. ( 2 1/2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, softened
  • 2 oz. Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp. Espresso Powder
  • 7 oz. Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 2 large Egg Yolks
  • 1 tbsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 11.25 oz. Pastry Flour


  1. Melt 4 tbsp. butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa and espresso powder and stir until mixture forms a smooth paste. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a mixer, use the paddle attachment to cream the remaining 16 tbsp. butter and sugar. Add the salt and cooled cocoa mixture, mixing on high speed until combined and fluffy. Make sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add yolks and vanilla and mix on medium speed until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl once more. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the flour in three parts. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition of flour.
  4. Mix until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough into three disks and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the disks until the dough has firmed yet soft enough to roll out, about 45 to 60 minutes.
  5. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 375°. Roll out the dough disks on a lightly floured surface and use desired cookie cutters to create personalized shapes and sizes.
  6. Place cut out shapes 1 in. apart on parchment-lined baking sheet using a metal spatula. Bake until cookies show slight resistance to the touch, about 10 to 12 minutes. Make sure to rotate the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. If cookies begin to darken around the edges they have overbaked.
  7. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer cookies to a wire rack by carefully lifting the parchment from the baking sheet to cool completely. Repeat process until all remaining dough and scraps have rolled, cut and baked.

Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze


4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate

4 tbsp. Unsalted Butter

2 tbsp. Corn Syrup

1 tsp. Vanilla Extract


Melt chocolate and butter together. Mix until smooth. Add corn syrup and vanilla and mix until smooth and glossy. Using an offset spatula or back of a large spoon, spread about a teaspoon of glaze over each cookie. Spread the glaze almost to the edge. If the glaze becomes too stiff to spread fluidly, reheat over low heat until smooth Allow the glazed cookies to dry completely before decorating. Use piping gel, edible luster dust or confectioners’ sugar to add a final accent to your personal design. 


Special thanks to Erika Bruce and my wonderful boyfriend Peter for all the help and support.

All content © Honeybee’s Patisserie 2011


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