They look fancy, but the oven does the decorating, so as long as you remember to make the dough at least six hours before you plan to bake, nothing could be easier.
For one thing, there’s no creaming. You melt the butter and chocolate together and then add them to the beaten eggs and sugar before adding the flour. An electric hand mixer does the work – at least until it’s time to form the dough into 80 one-inch balls and roll them in icing sugar.
If you have some kitchen elves on hand, that can be very pleasant and social, the kind of simple, repetitive kitchen chore, like shelling peas, or cutting fruit for canning, that we don’t often do any more.
I found them in A Baker’s Field Guide to Christmas Cookies, by Dede Wilson, a truly wonderful cookbook that has fueled the creativity of cookie night for several years: the Christmas Mice! the Meringue Mushrooms!
If you’re a fan of Christmas Cookies, you need this book.
First, I’ve changed its name. Wilson called them Kris Kringle’s Krinkles. Somehow the initials KKK just don’t say Christmas to me. Right now I’m going with Claus’s Chocolate Crinkles, but I’m open to better names.
And as of this batch, I’ve officially stopped making the version that’s rolled in cocoa powder instead of icing sugar. Here’s why.
Although we make these cookies every year, they aren’t my favorites. The telling proof? I can keep a container of them in the house and not feel any need to go get another cookie every half hour or so.
But other people, including Alan and Marla, always ask for them.
What they say, with glad expectation in their voices, is: “Are you going to make those chocolate cookies with the icing sugar on them?”
Since no one ever mentions the cocoa-rolled version, and they’re always the last to be eaten, I’m not going to make them any more.
Expect your hands to become sticky with dough. You’ll have to stop and wash a couple of times in the course of rolling a batch.
Tomorrow: the best chocolate-covered mints ever.
- 5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Confectioner’s sugar
- unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
- Melt chocolate and butter together in a double boiler – over hot but not boiling water – or in a microwave until about ¾ melted. Remove from heat and stir until completely melted and smooth.
- Stir flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl.
- In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed (hand-held is fine) beat eggs, granulated sugar and vanilla together until creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Whisk chocolate and butter mixture until smooth, and beat into the egg mixture.
- Add about one-third of the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Gradually add remaining flour, mixing just until blended.
- Dough may be very thin; it will firm up on cooling.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift some confectioner’s sugar into a small bowl. If you’re using the cocoa, sift some into a small bowl.
- Roll dough between your palms into 1-inch balls, then roll in confectioner’s sugar (or cocoa) to coat completely. Place the balls 2 inches apart on cookie sheets, and gently flatten so they don’t roll.
- Bake until puffed and cracked in appearance, about 12 minutes. The centres will still feel somewhat soft.
- Slide parchment onto racks to cool cookies completely.
- Store in an airtight container, up to two weeks.