How Nigella entertains a crowd at Christmastime
- 2 1/4 sticks (18 Tbsp.) soft butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup boiling water , from a kettle
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- Christmas sprinkles
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl and, when you have a light, soft whipped mixture, beat in the 1/3 cup cocoa powder (sifting if it is lumpy) and, when that's mixed in, beat in the flour with the baking soda and baking powder. Or just put everything in the processor and blitz, if you prefer.
This mixture is very soft and sticky and I find it easiest to form the cookies wearing my disposable vinyl gloves, so pinch off pieces about 1 tablespoon in size, roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs as you place them, well spaced, on your cookies sheet. You should get about 12 on at a time.
Bake each batch for 15 minutes; even though the cookies won't feel as if they've had enough time, they will continue to cook as they cool. They will look slightly cracked on top, and it's this cozy, homespun look I love.
Move the cookie sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).
To make the topping, put the cocoa powder, confectioners' sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything is smoothly combined. Take off the heat for 10 minutes.
When the cookies are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze—it will help "glue" the sprinkles on in a minute. Use the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbled look is part of their charm. After you've iced 6 cookies, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles and continue until all the cookies are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa "glue" has dried and the sprinkles won't stick on.
From Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson. Photographs by Lis Parsons. Copyright © Nigella Lawson 2008. Photographs Copyright © Lis Parsons 2008. Published by Hyperion. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.