I’ve been collecting cookie stamps for a few years, but it wasn’t until this winter that I fell in love with the look of a stamped cookie glazed with icing. These stamped chocolate shortbread cookies are buttery, and not too sweet. They hold their shape perfectly when they bake, so the stamped design is beautifully preserved. And the icing brushed over the cookies while they’re still warm highlights all the gorgeous details of the cookie stamp design. They’re perfect for the holidays or any time of year!
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Types of Cookie Stamps
The Nordic Ware cast cookie stamps are commonly used for pressed shortbread cookies. They have such a beautiful variety of designs to choose from. And for my stamped chocolate shortbread cookies in today’s post, I used the Nordic Ware Starry Nights cookie stamps. The designs in this set are so gorgeous, and I love that they’re wintery, without necessarily being a Christmas stamp, so they can be used all winter long. Most of the cookie stamps I own are Nordic Ware, and I love them! The quality is amazing, the detail is beautiful, and the dough releases perfectly.
Another option are silicone cookie stamps. They’re available in a wide variety of patterns, and a bonus is that they can be taken apart for washing.
Then there are traditional Springerle molds and patterned rolling pins. A Springerle is a type of German cookie with an embossed design. They’re made by pressing springerle molds onto rolled dough and allowed to dry before baking, to preserve the detail of the pattern.
How to Use Stamp Cookie Cutters
One of the great things about using stamp cookie cutters, is that you don’t need to roll out your dough. After making the shortbread dough, let it rest and chill for about 20 minutes. Then shape the dough into uniformly sized balls, and lightly coat the balls in flour. Dip the cookie stamp in flour, shake off the excess, and press down firmly on the dough balls. After lifting the stamp off the pressed cookie, use a cookie cutter to trim off the uneven edges.
The Best Types of Cookie Dough
Use a Dark Cookie Dough
If you’re planning on icing your stamped cookies, then it’s best to use a darker cookie dough. The contrast of the dark cookie dough with the icing is what really beautifully highlights the detail of your embossed pattern.
Gingerbread cookies are a popular option for embossed cookies, since the rich brown color of the dough looks very pretty with the translucent icing.
Chocolate cookies are another perfect option your stamped cookies. And, personally, I’d far rather eat a chocolate cookie than a gingerbread cookie, so this chocolate shortbread cookie recipe is a winner in both appearance and taste.
Use a No Spread Cookie Recipe
It’s also important to use a no spread cookie recipe. This means you’ll need a recipe that doesn’t contain any leavening or eggs, both of which will cause the dough to puff and spread out. And a cookie that spreads will lose the detail of that gorgeous stamped pattern.
My chocolate shortbread cookie recipe is perfect for embossed cookies. Since the dough doesn’t spread while baking, it perfectly preserves the detail of the pressed pattern. The baked cookies are also soft, not crunchy, and totally delicious.
And if you’re looking for a no-spread vanilla shortbread, be sure to check out my soft vanilla bean shortbread cookie recipe. It’s my go-to recipe for all my cutout cookies.
- All-Purpose Flour. Provides structure to the cookies.
- Powdered Sugar. I like to use powdered sugar in my shortbread cookies, rather than granulated sugar. The finer texture makes a lovely, soft cookie.
- Cocoa Powder. Use a good-quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder, such as Rodelle, for delicious results.
- Coarse Kosher Salt. Balances the sweetness and enhances the flavor of the chocolate.
- Unsalted Butter. Adds richness, moisture and flavor. The butter is what makes shortbread cookies so light and flaky.
- Vanilla Extract. Flavor.
- Milk. A little milk helps to bind the dough together, without adding leavening, like an egg would do.
Make the Dough.
Shortbread dough is a breeze to make in a food processor. But if you don’t have one, you can absolutely make the dough using just a bowl and pastry cutter. After you make the dough, chill it for about 20 minutes.
Divide the Dough into Portions.
If you have a food scale, use it to weigh the dough, then weigh out 12 equal portions. You’ll want your cookies to be as uniform in size as possible, so that they all bake evenly, which is why it’s so helpful to weigh out the portions. Roll each portion of dough into a ball.
Press the Dough with Cookie Stamps.
To ensure that the dough doesn’t stick to your cookie stamps when you press your cookies, you’ll need to lightly coat the dough balls in flour. Then dip the cookie stamp in flour, and tap to shake off the excess.
Center the stamp over a dough ball and press down firmly until the dough is pressed all the way to the edges of the stamp. Lift the stamp off the dough, revealing your beautiful design.
Since your pressed cookies will look rough around the edges, use a cookie cutter that’s slightly smaller than the cookie stamp to trim the edges of the cookies. Save all the scraps, then roll them together to press one last cookie.
Chill the Pressed Cookies.
Once you’ve pressed all your cookies, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill them in the refrigerator for one hour prior to baking. Chilling the pressed cookies helps to ensure that they won’t spread while baking.
Bake the chilled cookies in a 350-degree oven for about 11-12 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, transfer to a cooling rack, and then brush with the icing while the cookies are still warm.
While the embossed pattern on your shortbread cookies looks beautiful just as is, it’s the icing that really illuminates the gorgeous pattern. As the glaze fills all the cracks and crevices, the contrast of the dark dough and light icing looks simply gorgeous.
Don’t Leave Out the Corn Syrup
The light corn syrup plays an important role in your glaze or icing. As the icing dries, the sugar can concentrate and create little white spots of crystallized sugar. It doesn’t affect the taste or texture at all, and even if this happens, your cookies will still be delicious. But it does mar their appearance somewhat. The corn syrup helps to stabilize the sugars and prevent crystallization from occurring.
Warm Cookies + Warm Icing
Both your cookies and your icing should be warm, so that when you brush the icing over the cookies, it glazes over them smoothly and evenly. As soon as you take your cookies out of the oven, you can quickly mix up the icing. Whisk together all the icing ingredients until smooth. The coffee icing should be thin, with a consistency like warm honey.
After cooling the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer them to a cooling rack, and set the cooling rack back over the baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush the icing over the warm cookies, getting it into all the crevices. The glaze will set quickly, so don’t touch the cookies again until they’re completely set.
Various Icing Flavors
- Coffee Icing. As I was drinking coffee while making these stamped chocolate shortbread cookies, I decided to use a few tablespoons of my coffee to flavor the icing. It was delicious, and tints the icing a pretty off-white color.
- Almond Icing. Use water or milk as the liquid in your icing, and add almond extract.
- Lemon or Orange Icing. I absolutely love citrus glazes on cakes and cookies. Simply whisk together lemon or orange juice with the powdered sugar until it’s a smooth, thin consistency. Citrus and gingerbread are fantastic together.
- Peppermint Icing. Use warm water or milk instead of coffee, and add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of peppermint extract. Peppermint is great with the chocolate cookies.
- Maple Icing. Instead of vanilla extract, use maple extract for a delicious flavor.
- Rum Butter Icing. Add a teaspoon or two of melted butter, and thin the icing with dark spiced rum instead of coffee.
- Bourbon Icing. Substitute some (or all) of the liquid with good quality bourbon.
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Did you love today’s recipe? Please rate the recipe and let me know in the comments what you thought! Also, be sure to follow Curly Girl Kitchen on Instagram, and tag me when you try one of my recipes so I can see all your delicious creations!
Stamped Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ cup unsweetened, Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp coarse Kosher salt (if using table salt, use half the amount)
- ½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- 2 tsp light corn syrup
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 2 – 2 ½ tbsp coffee, warm (or warm water)
- In a food processor, pulse the flour, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and salt until combined.With the processor running, drop in the pieces of butter, one at a time. Pulse a few times until evenly distributed.Add the vanilla and milk. Process just until the dough comes together and sticks together in a ball.
- Note that if you don't have a food processor, you can make the dough in a bowl, using a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Then use your hands to work in the liquid until it comes together into a dough.
- Turn the dough out, and knead a few times, just to fold in any floury bits. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal portions. They should be as close in size as possible, so it's helpful if you have a food scale, to weigh the dough, then weigh each portion so they're uniform in size.Roll each portion between your hands to shape a ball, and lightly dust each ball of dough in flour.Place the dough balls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Dip a cookie stamp in flour, then tap off the excess. Center the stamp over a ball of dough, then firmly press down on the dough, until it flattens and spreads out all the way to the edge of the stamp. Carefully pull the dough off the stamp and set onto the baking sheet.Use a round cookie cutter that's slightly smaller than the cookie stamp to cut the pressed cookie and trim off the uneven edges. Save the scraps.Repeat pressing all the cookies, dipping the stamp in flour and tapping off the excess in between each.
- Gather up all the scraps from the trimmed edges, roll into a ball, dust in flour, and press one more cookie, for a total of 13 cookies.Place all the pressed cookies about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.
- Set the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill the pressed cookies for 1 hour. Chilling the dough prior to baking ensures that the dough maintains its shape in the oven and doesn't spread.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake the chilled cookies on the center oven rack for 11 1/2 minutes.
- Cool the cookies on the pan for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer them to a cooling rack. Brush with the glaze while the cookies are still warm.
- Both the cookies and the glaze should be warm when you brush on the glaze. If they're cool, the glaze won't brush on smoothly, and will look too thick and opaque when it dries.
- As soon as you take the cookies out of the oven, prepare the glaze. In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients until smooth. The glaze should be fairly thin, about the consistency of warm honey.
- After cooling the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, transfer them to a cooling rack. They're ready to be iced right away.
- Dip a pastry brush into the icing, getting a generous amount onto the brush. Brush it over the cookies, getting it into all the crevices, and letting it drip over the sides. Repeat with all the cookies.
- Once you've iced a cookie, the glaze will crust and set quickly, so leave it alone. Don't brush over it again, and don't touch it. The glaze will set in about 30 minutes. Let the icing harden completely, about 2 hours, before storing the cookies in an airtight container.
- Make in Advance: The dough can be made in advance, wrapped well, and refrigerated up to 5 days, or frozen for 3-6 months.
- Storing: Leftover cookies should be stored in an airtight container for 7-10 days.