As beautiful white snowflakes fell on a recent Sunday, I could hear my skis gliding along the hard-packed snow. I was chatting with two close friends and three more were headed toward me. Our children were in the hands of skilled volunteer instructors and, after a several-year hiatus, I was once again enjoying cross country skiing.

My children are taking lessons through the Bill Koch Youth Ski League, and I was thrilled with the mileage I had covered. While I love to get outdoors and exercise, too, I must admit my weak spot after a tough workout — a sweet reward.

As I finished this particular day of skiing, my mind was on the freshly baked chocolate mocha sugar cookies at home in my kitchen cupboard.

I found the cookie recipe while experimenting with my new iPad, a Christmas present intended for work purposes — writing, editing, publishing. As a cooking columnist, I was, of course, eager to search recipes and all the free cooking-related apps available. My favorite new app is for Whole Foods. I don’t get to the store in Portland often, but the app for its recipes is free. (If you don’t have an iPad, know that I was later able to find this recipe on Whole Foods’ website.)

The chocolate mocha sugar cookie recipe is a simple variation of an old-fashioned sugar cookie. The dough is easy to whip up, and after an hour of chilling, it rolls out very easily. I used a very small cookie cutter so my kids would be happy when I gave them two cookies. I also substituted whole wheat pastry flour for regular flour to make this treat a little bit healthier.

After being outdoors for a good part of that Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed every bite of these cookies, along with some hot cocoa.

Chocolate mocha sugar cookies


2 cups (regular or whole wheat pastry) flour, plus more for rolling out cookies

1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg


In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, coffee, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat on low speed until combined. Divide dough in half and shape into two discs. Wrap in waxed paper and chill until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Working with one disc of dough at a time, roll out dough on a floured surface until 1/4-inch thick and cut out cookies with floured cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spacing them 1 inch apart.

Bake until just golden around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Dust cookies with equal parts powdered sugar and sweetened cocoa powder, if you like. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes about 3 dozen.

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