A typical Christmas with my family consists of a full day's worth of Chinese hot pot. Three meals (and snacks in between) of beef, lamb, fish balls, squid, napa cabbage, taro, tofu, seaweed, noodles, and my mom's famous dipping sauce. Cookies, especially home baked cookies, are usually nowhere to be found. Not exactly your typical American Christmas, but it's what I always associate with the holidays. It's what makes me nostalgic; what all the lights and buzz remind me of.
It's been a few years since I've spent the holidays with my family, life takes you in other directions sometimes. So last year, yearning for a piece of home, Phillip and I went out for hot pot in Chinatown on Christmas day. It wasn't as good as mom's, but it did ease the homesickness a bit.
In a change from tradition, this year there will be lots of cookie baking and no hot pot (only because I already got my fix last week). However, I still want to honor the non-typical ways people can celebrate Christmas, so I present to you a slightly non-typical cookie in the form of chocolate dipped rhinos.
They are really just shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles, but I thought it would be fun to cut them into cute rhino shapes. Though to be honest, I had a helluva time with their tiny little tails, which kept ripping off. But some fancy patchwork later, and you can't even tell, I hope? You of course can cut the cookies into any shape you desire, be it trees, snowflakes, or the classic circle. The crunchy, buttery shortbread would be delicious in any form.
Hope you guys have a wonderful holiday, however you like to celebrate!
Makes 12 to 24 cookies depending on how large you cut them.
200 grams (3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
100 grams (1/2 cup) sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
300 grams (2 cups plus 6 tbsp) all-purpose flour
200 grams (7 oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
sprinkles for decoration
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, sugar, and salt together on medium speed until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Add the vanilla and beat for another 30 seconds. Add flour and mix on low for another minute until dough just comes together, at this point it will be fairly crumbly. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and, if needed, knead it a few times until it starts coming together. Form the dough into a ball, gently flatten it a little, and wrap tightly in plastic. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Once the dough is chilled, remove the plastic wrap and transfer it back to your counter. Place a piece of parchment paper on top, and roll it out until roughly 1/4 inch thick (alternatively, you can also roll it out in between two sheets of parchment paper). Cut the dough with your cookie cutter of choice and, using a bench scraper, transfer each piece onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Collect the dough scraps and continue rolling and cutting until you have used up the remainder.
Turn the oven to 350 degrees F. While your oven is heating, place the baking sheet(s) of cut out cookies in the fridge to firm up. When ready, bake cookies for 15 to 18 minutes until slightly golden around the edges. Let cool to room temperature.
Once cookies have cooled, place chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan of water. Bring the water to a gentle simmer and melt the chocolate. Dip the cookies in the chocolate, top with sprinkles, and let cool until chocolate sets. Enjoy!