Living the Frugal Life
I was taken unaware by the Christmas spirit this past weekend when we got a 6" snowfall, a bit early for this part of the world. We threw on our lined jeans and layered up to go cut our tree at a nearby tree farm while the snow fell. To carry on with that holiday theme once we were back inside, I decided to bake a few chocolate crinkle cookies. After posting the photospread for the day on my own blog, I had a couple requests for the recipe. And since there's a trick to these cookies that I'd like to share, I decided to bring it here to the Co-op for a wider venue.
These are not cookies that you can whip up from start to finish on a moment's notice. The dough must be chilled rather thoroughly before baking. Most recipes you find for these cookies if you just google for it will tell you to chill the dough for three hours before baking. That's certainly a good start. But to get the full effect of the dramatic appearance of these cookies, there's an essential extra step; one that's little mentioned in the recipes I've run across either online or in print. After chilling the dough, I scoop the dough onto a baking sheet and freeze the dough solid. Once the dough is frozen, these do indeed become spur-of-the-moment treats. You can put the frozen chunks in a plastic bag and then reach into the freezer for however many cookies you feel like baking at a time. The dough will keep for two months in a frostless freezer, longer in a chest freezer. But read the recipe below carefully if you want the cookies to turn out as beautiful as they are delicious.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
1/2 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder (~55 g)
1 cup sugar (~190 g)
1/4 cup cooking oil (~53 g)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour (~100 g)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. table salt
For topping: about 1/4 cup powdered sugar (aka confectioner's sugar)
Combine the cocoa powder and the sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the cooking oil, eggs, and vanilla extract and stir well to produce a homogeneous mixture. Add the remaining ingredients except for the powdered sugar. Stir again until the dough is consistent throughout. Cover the mixing bowl and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least three hours and up to 24 hours. (The dough will be very soft and spread far too much if shaped without this pre-chilling.)
Scoop the dough using a small ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, forming rounded balls of dough. Arrange them, tightly spaced, on a baking sheet and freeze them until solid. Remove the frozen cookie dough from the baking sheet, place them in a plastic bag, and keep frozen until you feel like baking some.
When ready to bake
Preheat the oven to 350 F/175 C. Put the powdered sugar in a bag or plastic food container and either grease your baking sheet or line it with baker's parchment. When the oven is up to temperature, remove however many chunks of cookie dough will fit on your baking sheet and put them directly into the powdered sugar. Working as quickly as possible, close the bag or container and shake it to thoroughly coat the cookie dough chunks with sugar. Remove the chunks one at a time, making sure each one is well coated with powdered sugar, arrange them on the baking sheet, and get it into the oven very quickly. (NB: If the dough is allowed to sit at room temperature, either before or after being coated with powdered sugar, the sugar will become damp and the appearance of the cookies after baking will be muddy brown rather than a stark contrast of white and black.)
Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes. They will expand as they cook, producing a festive cracked appearance. Bake just until the chocolate areas of the cookie lose their very wet sheen. They should still be fairly soft, though you can bake them longer if you want to produce a crisper cookie. The softer version of these cookies will fall slightly after being removed from the oven. Allow the soft version to rest for three minutes before removing to a cooling rack. Get the crunchy version off the baking sheet as soon as they're out of the oven.
The yield from this recipe depends very much on the size of the cookies you make. I typically double this recipe and end up with about four and a half dozen medium-sized cookies. This is a dairy-free vegetarian recipe, so I believe they can follow any meal in a kosher household. Although very easy to prepare, they also draw lots of remarks in a holiday cookie exchange. I hope you enjoy them!