CakeSpy Note: This is a guest post from Cake Gumshoe Stephanie! Here's her Bio: Stephanie Anderson Witmer is the author of the cookbooks Killer Pies and Killer Chili (as Stephanie Anderson, her maiden name), both published by Chronicle Books in 2007. She has also written about food for Better Homes & Gardens, Punchfork.com, Spirit magazine, and more. Visit her website at stephanieandersonwitmer.com.
One reason I love Christmas so much is that in my family, it’s almost exactly the same year after year after year. In the morning, we eat cinnamon rolls, followed by poached eggs over pieces of bread in coffee cups (eponymously called “Charlie eggs” after my paternal grandfather). In the afternoon, my grandmother prepares an informal afternoon buffet that includes beef brisket, steamed shrimp, baked beans and the ubiquitous red-and-green Jell-O mold.
But it’s what comes after all of this that’s the main Christmas food event, in my opinion: my grandma’s chocolate-crinkle cookies. We wait in anticipation for her to carry out the Christmas tree–shaped cookie tray, ready to pounce on the crinkles, stockings, presents and good manners be damned. All of us — kids, adults, aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents — attack the pile of crinkles with such ferocity, we’re practically elbowing each other out of the way. (The best tactic is to quickly grab a handful and retreat. Don’t be polite. You will eat them all.)
On a normal day, the chocolate-chip cookies or the peanut-butter cookies with the Hershey’s Kisses in the middle or the sugar cookies bedazzled with vibrant sanding sugar would be popular picks. But it’s not a normal day. It’s Christmas—the one and only day of the year that the chocolate crinkles make their appearance. Sure, we could make the cookies more often, but it just doesn’t feel right. Their rarity is part of why they taste so good (but just part).
And now I share my grandma’s recipe with you. Some crinkle words of wisdom before you begin: First, crinkles should be small, ever-so-slightly crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It’s important not to over-bake them. They should look not-quite done when you pull them out of the oven. Next, the dough needs to be refrigerated overnight, so be sure to plan accordingly. Just before baking, the cookies are shaped into balls and rolled in what will seem like an ungodly amount of confectioners’ sugar. Err on the side of more, not less. As they bake, the cookies will spread, with the sugar forming the crinkles, and they’ll come out of the oven looking as if they’ve been dusted with newly fallen snow.
Grandma’s Chocolate-Crinkle Cookies
Yield: 6-7 dozen
- ½ cup vegetable oil
- 8 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 4 large eggs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- Confectioners’ (10x) sugar, for coating
- Mix oil, melted chocolate, sugar and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend in one egg at a time. Mix together salt, flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, and then add to wet ingredients, blending until combined. Cover with plastic, and refrigerate dough overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll a teaspoon of cold dough into a ball, and then generously roll each ball in confectioners’ sugar. Place 12 balls on a greased cookie sheet, and bake 8–10 minutes. (Check after 8 minutes). Do not overbake. Cookies should be slightly soft when done.