Friday, April 19, 2019

Chocolate Easter Cookies

I realized at dawn one day this week that this Sunday was Easter Sunday, which made my usual post day Friday Good Friday. My family was never terribly religious, so we didn’t celebrate in a religious way (although I once attended a midnight Easter service in a French cathedral, which was very moving).

Sundays were the days when the grandparents or step-grandparents came to dinner. They were rather stiff and stuffy affairs, and the menu didn’t vary much. Turkey was for Thanksgiving and Christmas; all other Sundays (including Easter) we had a standing rib roast. I have never cooked one of those in my life, mainly because I’ve always liked rare meat, and making one with two ribs was just too much food, and I don’t even know if stores sell a single rib, which was almost guaranteed to be overcooked (and both are expensive!).

But we always had Easter candy. Lots of it. For just my younger sister and me. Usually it was placed in a large papier-mache egg hidden in plain sight, or around the carefully dyed real eggs in our Easter baskets. (I hate to admit how many of all of the above I still have in my attic.) One year my engineer father decided we were going to blow eggs rather than boil them, and he got out his power drill and made the holes at the ends of each egg (my sister and I provided the air for blowing). His technique worked surprisingly well. 

But there is one particular aroma that says Easter to me: the combination of dark chocolate and those wonderful pungent white Easter lilies. My New York grandmother lived near some high-end candy makers and always brought a selection when she visited for Easter. The kind I remember best is little marzipan bunnies (about an inch high) half-dipped in chocolate. As long as you didn’t tell me it was marzipan, which meant nuts, which I hated, I thought they were wonderful.

No, I’m not going to paint eggs or try to make exotic candies this year. But I do have an extensive cookie-cutter collection, which just happens to include bunnies and chickies and flowers and such, which will do fine to celebrate spring. And I’m going to make chocolate sugar cookies to celebrate those old memories. The following recipe is a combination of vintage Fanny Farmer and Joy of Cooking recipes—yes, from my mother’s copies.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies


1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg (or 2 egg yolks)
1 Tblsp milk or cream
½ tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup dry cocoa or 2 squares melted chocolate


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your cookie sheets.

Beat together the soft butter, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla.

Sift together the dry ingredients (including the dry cocoa) and add to the first ingredients. Mix well.

If you are making rolled cookies, add enough flour (about a quarter cup) to make the mixture stiff enough to roll . Chill in the refrigerator for an hour or more. 

My seasonal cookie cutters. You have to look hard at the
round item in the middle: it's a vintage cookie cutter that
lets you cut out a whole batch of different cookies at once.
There are flowers and assorted animals, including a duck.
Roll out the chilled batter (not all at once!) about 1/4-inch thick. Cut with a selection of floured cutters and place on a greased cookie sheet.

Isn't it a great rolling pin? It was a gift.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can brush the cookies with melted butter while warm, of spread with melted semi-sweet chocolate, or add frosting.


  1. Yummy, Sheila! I think I have a bunny cookie cutter, too. I try to make a flourless chocolate cake for Easter when my gluten-free friend comes (including this year), but I might have to whip up some of these, too. Thanks!

  2. Cut out cookies for Easter sound like fun. Why have I only been making cut out cookies only during Christmas season???

  3. Happy spring celebrations to all!

    What a wonderful cookie cutter collection.

    Do I understand you correctly that the circular one cuts all those shapes at once? Very nifty!

    I'm happy to report that your Facebook link is working, finally. Very slowly, but it's working.

    1. I can't resist cookie cutters, and I probably have them for all holidays (I have a great skull and a jack-o-lantern for Halloween). The English ones are wonderful--very well made. And yes, that round one cuts out more shapes than I can count--it's vintage, and I found it at a flea market somewhere.