Soul Satisfying Brownies

IMG_5471In the film version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s must-read memoir, Eat Pray Love, Liz (aka Julia Roberts) introduces her Italian tutor to a new English word. Holding up a bottle of wine, she says, “Therapist.”

In the way that Eskimos have a hundred words for snow, I believe Americans have a thousand words for therapist. Wine is one.

Brownie is another. When you’re having one of those days, nothing is faster, easier or more satisfying to your beleaguered spirit than a brownie. Am I right?

And, in the way that there are a thousand words for therapist, there are (at least) a thousand recipes for brownies. We all have a favorite – or many favorites. I grew up making theIMG_5470 one-bowl recipe on the back of the Baker’s chocolate box. In high school, when my friends and I suddenly found ourselves hungry (you remember how that can happen, right?), the Duncan Hines Fudge Brownie mix was the answer. Although, as I recall, the yield was somewhat less than indicated on the box due to excessive batter eating.

Today, there are several brownies I enjoy: I like a dark chocolate fudgy one straight from the fridge, I like a dense IMG_5473chewy one like the kind they sell at Zaro’s Bakery in Grand Central Station (the commuter’s best friend I always say), I like a fancy one like cream cheese swirl or salted caramel swirl. They’re all good. They all make me happy. (Despite an earlier post as to whether I actually like them or not. This is about “therapist” not about best treat ever.)

But they don’t all make me satisfied. Happy stomach, happy brain, sure. Satisfied heart, soothed soul? For that I need a no-fuss, traditional, cakey brownie. No bells or whistles, no fancy ingredients you might not have. Just the basics, whisked together in a single bowl and baked for 25 minutes.

It’s a cure for what ails you. (Or at least one of them.)

Soul Satisfying Brownies

Yield: 16 2-inch brownies

Note: I am tinkering with low cholesterol and gluten-free baking. This recipe reflects both. You can make it the “regular” way using whole eggs and unbleached flour.)

Ingredients

6 Tbs (3/4 stick) unsalted butter

2 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/3 c sugar

2/3 c brown sugar, packed (I used turbinado crystals for a cakier texture)

½ c Egg Beaters egg substitute (or two large eggs)

1 tsp vanilla

½ c Cup4Cup gluten free flour (or the same amount of regular flour)

¼ tsp salt

Preparation

Butter an 8-inch square pan, lining the bottom and two sides with parchment leaving a 1-inch overhang. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375.

Combine the chopped chocolate and butter in a microwave safe dish (I use a Pyrex measuring cup), and zap on low until melted. Check every 15 seconds and stir. Set aside.

IMG_5474Combine sugars in a medium mixing bowl. Add the chocolate-butter mixture and whisk to combine. Add the Egg Beaters, in two additions, whisking after each. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour and salt, whisking until combined.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 25 minutes until edges just start to pull away.

Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan using parchment handles and cool on rack completely.

Enjoy!

 

 

Hint of Spring Orange Raspberry Cakelets

There are so many things to love about being a food blogger. Chief among them is all of theIMG_4560 discoveries you make almost daily, of other bloggers, artisanal makers, baby brands, established brands you’ve never heard of. And of course the endless falling in love, over and over, with recipes, tastes, and photos. Food porn is real as you. well. know.

In the past year, I’ve discovered many delicious things going on in the UK and Down Under. You’ve all been there, you Like one thing on FB and then see something it Likes and you’re down a rabbit hole of Eat Me and Drink Me discovery. This particular journey started with the Great British Baking Show (on Netflix and then on PBS). Not only was each guest lovelier and more adorable than then next, but the judges were rigorous and the challenges significant. Plus I learned (learnt?) a lot of new terminology, including “checking the bake” which is the quality/crumb of the finished product.

From there, I somehow ran into delicious.magazine, also from the UK, that has a terrific social media presence and great recipe links/photos on FB (from which I made the Chocolate Molasses Buttons holiday cookies). And from there, I encountered Dish magazine from New Zealand – more lovely recipes for things I never heard of like Caramel IMG_4557Slice (aka Millionaire Shortbread) and this week’s delicious little bites.

The great thing about these orange raspberry mini loaves is how easy they are to make, which was key this past weekend because, as you likely know, we in the US “sprIMG_4546ang forward,” losing an hour of sleep. I also always seem to crave citrus and berries on spring forward Sunday, so the recipe was perfect. The extra special bonus was that I had an excuse to buy silicone financier pans – my first time baking in silicone and in that shape. The fun never ends!

The pans were terrific to work with, the perfect little loaves just popped out. The results are delicious, wonderful with tea. I don’t normally go for glaze but it adds a nice note here. If you look at the picture accompanying the recipe via the link above, you’ll see they have a pristine white glaze. I do not know how OJ and confectionery sugar would ever be snow white. C’est la vie. They taste terrific.

Note: You have to love nutmeg. I used powdered, jarred nutmeg which might have a stronger flavor than fresh. If you do the same, I suggest you halve the amount if you’re not a nutmeg fan. Also, the poppy seeds don’t add much to the result so don’t run to the store for them if you have everything else.

Next time I make these, I’m going to try lemon instead of orange. I just love lemons and raspberries together.

Happy spring!

Raspberry Orange Cakelets

Adapted from a recipe by Dish Magazine

Ingredients

2 sticks plus 1 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1¼ c granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 c flour

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ½ tsp powdered nutmeg from a jar)

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 Tbs poppy seeds (optional)

2 Tbs plain yogurt

Juice of half medium orange

Finely grated zest of one medium orange

2 cups frozen raspberries

Glaze

1½ cups confectionery sugar

Juice of 1 orange

Preparation

rasp batterPreheat oven to 350. Arrange two 12-hole silicone financier pans on baking sheets and set aside.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the yogurt, orange juice and orange zest together; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stop the mixer and add both the dry ingredients and the yogurt/OJ mixture to the butter. Mix on low until just combined.

Add the raspberries and, using a large rubber spatula, gently fold into the batter. Note: if you use raspberries right from the freezer your batter will rasp pansharden a bit around them.

Use a #20 ice cream scoop to drop scant scoops of batter into each section of the pans. (You’ll get 15-18 cakes.) Smooth tops with a small offset spatula.

Put the cookie sheets with the financier pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.

IMG_4558Cool in the molds for 30 minutes before removing to a rack and cooling completely.

Glaze: Stir enough orange juice into the confectionery sugar to make a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cakes.

Store the cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 15-18 cakes.

 If you don’t have the mini loaf tin you can use standard muffin tins. You will probably get 14–15 cakes from the mixture as the tin capacity is smaller.

Enjoy!

 

When Food Is Love

5715_10153882448957375_7877712364016207751_nI’m a person who, let’s say, has more rainy days than most people. I’ve managed my depression for decades with medication, but I still occasionally have moments when the clouds gather. Then, as with any other occasion really, I head to the kitchen. Because what I want is to feed myself.

I’m not talking about compulsivity or “eating your feelings.” I’m saying feel the feelings and eat anyway. But take the time to discover what really feeds you in those low moments. It took some years of trial and error before I really accepted that your typical “mood food” doesn’t help me: I don’t want chocolate, I don’t want lots of sugar or anything overly sweet, I don’t want junk food that forces my body to work extra hard to process.

I want things that are super soothing and easy to eat. Things that are easy to prepare and redolent of comfort, familiarity, and warmth. “Easy to prepare” is key, because I’ve learned that what makes the biggest difference in feeding – and lifting – my depression is the act of cooking. Because what I want most is, quite literally, to feed myself. If preparing food for others is an act of love, then preparing food for yourself is, in my opinion, the ultimate act of self love.

So when the storm clouds gathered recently, I headed to the kitchen to prepare a tried-and-true comfort food and to discover a new one. I offer you both. Because both made me feel better. As did my animals, my blankets, my art, and lots of British TV via acorn.tv.

Baked Custard

IMG_4462

Note the moussey top and silky custard bottom!

Another favorite from the gingham Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I’ve been making this since childhood. I’ve modified the recipe a bit to use roughly equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Why? Because, for some reason, it results in a layered custard. The top is mousse-like while the bottom is the shiny, silky traditional custard. It’s just wonderful at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. It is a lot of dairy and eggs, so clearly not meant for every day.

Rainy Day Baked Custard

Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

 

Ingredients

1 c heavy cream

1c whole milk

½ c sugar

4 large eggs

1 Tbs vanilla

Ground nutmeg to taste

Preparation

Set oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a 1.5 quart baking dish and a roasting pan large enough to hold the baking dish.

Pour cream and milk into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Whisk in sugar, followed by the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste – I like a generous coating.

Set the dish into the roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up the side of the baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes. Custard should be set. If it’s still quite liquid, nudge the heat up to 375 for another 10-15 minutes. It should be set by then.

Remove from oven, and remove baking dish from water bath, and let cool on rack.

If you want to eat it warm, let it sit for about 15 minutes. Otherwise cool to room temperature and enjoy, or refrigerate and enjoy some more.

Comfort Cake

A few months ago I bought The Rustic Italian Bakery by Veronica Lavenia. When I was in Italy, I noticed the traditional sweets were not all that sweet. And that little slices of something were often served in the afternoon with coffee. I’ve got a favorite ItalianIMG_4500 cornmeal cake recipe and “rustic” is the perfect word for it. It’s homey, flavorful but not sweet, and utterly delicious. So naturally I wanted to possess an entire book of such recipes!

Levinia’s book is a lot more than that. She has a “real” food ethos so her recipes often call for alternative flours and grains, varied sweeteners, and organic ingredients. When I bought the book, I didn’t have a pantryful of alternative flours. Since I began baking from Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours, though, my stock has increased. And so, on a gloomy day, I leafed through Levinia’s book in search of something appealing I could make with ingredients on hand. Torta Paradiso was invented by a priest and made famous across Italy in 1878 by pastry chef Enrico Vigoni (says Lavenia). I had to modify the recipe slightly because I was out of brown sugar and lemons. The original recipe, on Alimentari, also calls for cornstarch which the recipe in the book does not.

Paradiso Cake – Gluten Free

Adapted from The Rustic Italian Bakery, note most ingredients measured by weight

Ingredients

3 fl oz mild extra-virgin olive oil

3.5 oz turbinado sugar

4 large eggs, separated

5 Tbs heavy cream

Scant 1/4 cup whole milk

9 oz rice flour

1/2 oz baking powder

Zest of 1 medium orange

Powdered sugar to taste

Preparation

Set oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan (with 2 inch sides), lining the bottom with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the rice flour, baking powder and orange zest. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the olive oil and sugar, mixing on medium until sugar dissolves slightly, about 3-5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the cream, followed by the flour mixture, mixing thoroughly.

batterNote: At this point, my batter looked more like cookie dough. I couldn’t imagine folding beaten egg whites into it. So I added enough whole milk to make a smooth cake batter. If you find yourself in a similar situation, gradually add the milk, up to a 1/4 cup, until your batter looks right.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl. Clean your mixer bowl, attach the wire whip, and whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the cake batter using a large rubber spatula or balloon whisk, pulling the batter from the bottom up.

IMG_4499Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.

Bake, in preheated oven, for 30 minutes. A tester should come out clean. My cake was done, but very pale in color.

IMG_4510Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Unmold and cool on rack completely. Dust with powdered sugar to taste.

This cake is not sweet and has a lovely soft but hearty texture. It’s even better the second day when all the powdered sugar has sunk in adding a touch more sweetness to the cake.

Enjoy!

And if you find yourself struggling with difficult emotions, there are a number of ways to get help: Call the Employee Assistance Program offered by your employer to access short term counseling, look for a good therapist, join an online community like To Write Love on Her Arms – just do something. Depression is common and can be managed. Blessings!

 

Salted Caramel ‘Need I Say More’ Cookies

Hello friends, it has been quite a while since we’ve been in touch! I’m back with you, IMG_4168offering, of all things, a cookie.

Not just any cookie though. A cavity inducing combo of butter, chocolate and caramel. A carbo-phobe’s nightmare. A cookie that will get real with your resolutions and shatter them all to heck. And you. won’t. care.

From whence comes such a thing? A delightful blog called Grandbaby Cakes where Jocelyn Delk Adams shares the love of baking she learned at her grandmother’s knee. I saw a picture of these cookies on Instagram and had to track them down.

Salted Caramel. Chocolate Chips. OK?

Perhaps I’m late to this party. Perhaps you all knew about hiding caramel inside a ball of cookie dough, then sprinkling with salt. But if you didn’t, don’t be afraid. Take my hand. We’ll do this together.

Note: Fresh from the oven, I found these cookies far too sweet. I sadly set them aside thinking I’d have to give them to my sugar-cube loving friends. The next day, though, they looked so very delicious I ate one. Fabulous. Absolutely fabulous.

You won’t be sorry. Neither will your dentist. .

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from a recipe by Jocelyn Delk Adams

Ingredients

2½ c flour

2 tsps cornstarch

¾ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 c unsalted butter (room temperature, or beaten cold until soft)

½ c granulated sugar

1½ c packed brown sugar

1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks at room temperature

1 Tbs pure vanilla extract

1 ½ c semisweet chocolate chips (I use Guittard, just shy of a 12 oz package)

1 11-oz bag Kraft caramels, unwrapped

Sea Salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350. Line two large baking sheets with parchment, set aside,

Whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.IMG_4181

Unwrap caramels and cut each into quarters.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.

Lightly beat together egg, yolks and vanilla, then add to the butter in three additions, beating until smooth after each addition.

On low speed, add the flour mixture in three intervals beating well after each addition. Add chocolate chips and mix until well distributed.

Cover the bocaramelswl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. (according to Jocelyn, two hours is better!)

Use a #40 ice cream scoop to gather balls of dough. Press 4 caramel pieces into each ball and place on prepared baking sheets, 6 balls per sheet.

 

IMG_4170Bake 14-16 minutes until brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with sea salt and let cool on sheets 10 minutes before moving to a rack to cool completely. I rushed the cooling step and created little caramel aliens on the bottom of my rack.

Makes about 30 large incredibly delicious cookies.

IMG_4184

Bonus Holiday Cookie!

OK, so yes, we completed the Seven Days of Cookies, but in the course ofIMG_3696 all that baking, I came across a recipe from Alice Medrich that cried out to be tried. So even though I’ve been rolling [in] dough for a week, I had to make one more batch of cookies.

These are called Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares. The recipe is from Medrich’s Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. These are beyond delicious, a crispy-chewy sandwich of delightfulness.

Notes

  • Alice says these cookies can be customized to your taste through your choice of fruit and spice. I love cranberry and orange so I used dried cranberries and candied orange peel with just a touch of cinnamon.
  • Make sure your fruit is moist! If it’s not, Alice says to soak it in water, juice or spirits for about 20 minutes (any longer and it will be too mushy to use). Pat dry before using.
  • Do the best you can when rolling the dough. It was a bit sticky so I rolled it between two pieces of parchment, flipping it several times and smoothing the paper. Even then I fell short of the desired 16.5 inch length.

I wasn’t sure whatIMG_3697 to expect from this cookie. I knew it would be good (Medrich, dried fruit, butter), but I wasn’t prepared for just how good. The kind of good that makes you laugh out loud.

Which is truly the best way to conclude a “baker’s dozen” of Seven Days of Cookies.

Enjoy! And have a beautiful Christmas!

Pebbly Beach Fruit Squares

Adapted from Alice Medrich

Ingredients

1 3/4 c plus 2 Tbs flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened but still cool

3/4 c granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Finely grated zest of one medium lemon and one smallish orange

1/2 c moist candied orange peel

½ c moist dried cranberries (coarsely chopped to about the same size as the orange peel)

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 cup crystal sugar

Preparation

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside.

squareIn a medium bowl (with a mixer set on low), beat butter with the granulated sugar until smooth and well blended but not fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and both zests, and beat until smooth. Add flour mixture and mix until completely incorporated.

Divide the dough in half and form each into a rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Wrap the patties in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of oven. Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together the dried fruits with the cinnamon.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and let sit for 15 minutes to soften slightly.

IMG_3682On a sheet of parchment at least 17 inches long, roll one piece of dough into a rectangle 8.5 inches by 16.5 inches. With a short side facing you, scatter half of the dried fruit on the bottom half of the dough. Fold top half of the dough over fruit, using the paper as a handle. Gently peel paper from the top of dough. (If it sticks, chill dough for a few minutes until the paper peels easily.)

Press the top of the dough down lightly, then dust with half of the coarse sugar, again patting it lightly to make sure the sugar adheres. Use a heavy knife to trim thIMG_3683e edges. Then cut it into 4 strips and then cut each strip into 4 pieces to make 16 squares. Place cookies 2 inches apart on lined or greased cookie sheets. Repeat with remaining dough, fruit, and sugar.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Rotate pans from top to bottom and from front to back halfway through the baking time to ensure even baking. Let cool on sheets for about 10 minutes, then move to racks to cool completely.

Cookies keep in an airtight container for a week. Yields 24 to 32 squares. I wasn’t able to roll my dough to the full 16.5 inches so I ended up with about 24 cookies.

These are insane.

 

 

Seven Days of Cookies: Mom’s Brown Butter Markka

Whew! We made it, a whole week of cookies! If you’re feeling like me, youIMG_3666 may never want to eat another cookie again! Until next year. Or next week. You know.

We’re closing the week with a cookie my mother made every year. It’s one she remembered her own mother making during the holidays, and those back-in-the-day Finns, they didn’t write anything down. You learned by doing and then you remembered. So no matter how often I asked mom to transcribe her memory, she never did. So what I offer you here is my memory of this recipe.

These call upon two of the baker’s primary abilities: Patience and faith. Patience because this dough is very touchy and the resulting cookies very delicate. And faith that the greasy looking glop you end up with will (will!) result in a delicious cookie.

BTW, “Markka” are Finnish coins no longer in circulation. But again, back in the day, we all would’ve known what these were. If we were Finns.

Notes

  • Patience throughout is key. Browning the butter, chilling the dough, shaping the cookies. Slow and easy.
  • Make sure your stove is set to medium heat for the butter browning and do stir constantly. 12 minutes will go by quickly. You may get
    IMG_3662

    Browned butter!

    some frothing that will cause you to wonder if you’re doing this correctly. You are. Keep stirring. The butter browns and releases that nutty fragrance at about minute 10 or 11. Wait for it, keep stirring, and pull it off the heat at 12 minutes. If you get anxious at any point, simply lift the pot off the heat for a few seconds, but keep stirring. You hear me on the stirring, yes?

  • Add the dry ingredients to the butter! It makes a difference! I don’t know why!
  • Once the dry ingredients are incorporated you will feel forlorn. What you have in the bowl is not dough, it’s hardly even batter. Faith, dear reader.
  • Forming the cookies. More patience. This is a good time to rewatch the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. Because it takes some time to form these markka.

In the end, after all that work, you will have a scrumptious cookie. They IMG_3665are shortbread delicate so it’s best to store in a sturdy airtight container. (They don’t really ship well either.)

These are terrific with tea or a lovely little glass of sauternes.

Enjoy!

 

Mom’s Brown Butter Markka

Ingredients

1 scant cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), cut up

2 tsps vanilla

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 c granulated sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Crystal sugar (for topping cookies)

Preparation

Line two large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Put butter in a 1.5 quart sauce pan. (Stainless steel is best because you want to be able to see the color of the butter as it browns.) Set the pan over medium heat and set your timer for 12 minutes. Start stirring. Keep stirring. The butter may foam up and start to look almost fluffy. Just keep stirring, it will settle down before you’re done.

Pour the browned butter into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool while you assemble your dry ingredients.

Stir the flour in your storage container to aerate it and then measure 2 cups using the dip/sweep method. Add the baking powder, granulated sugar and salt, and whisk together gently.

Add the 2 teaspoons of vanilla to the browned butter. Then add half the dry ingredients to the butter. Stir gently to incorporate. Add the remaining dry ingredients and again, stir to incorporate.

So not pretty.

Scrape the dough into a smaller bowl, cover the top with a sheet of plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for two hours. Remove from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

IMG_3664

You really will need to scrape.

Preheat the oven to 350. Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven.

Use a small (#00) ice cream scoop to scrape up dough. It will shave and shard and that’s ok. Dump your scoopful of dough into your hand and warm it between your palms. Give it a minute and it will soften into a lovely, workable little ball of dough.

IMG_3663

To achieve this.

Roll it into a ball, flatten it slightly and place on the baking sheet. Repeat until you have 8 cookies per sheet. Sprinkle with the crystal sugar and press down on it a bit to make sure it sticks.

Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown around the edges, rotating the sheets top to bottom halfway through.

IMG_3667

Et voila!

Let the cookies cool on the sheets for about 10 minutes before gently moving to racks to cool completely.

Yields about 24 cookies.

 

Seven Days of Cookies: Dark Chocolate Crinkles

When I first moved to LA back in the 90s, one of my favorite haunts was acookies bookstore on Third Street called The Cook’s Library. It was devoted entirely to cookbooks. It was heaven. I’d plunk myself down on the floor and lose myself for an afternoon reading about European pastry. The staff were always friendly and nice. It was heaven. It closed in 2009 after 20 years. I miss it.

One of the books I bought there was a sort of coffee table style book on European

cooks library

Photo: LA Times

chocolate recipes. I would tell you the name, even show you a picture, but alas, the book is packed into a box that’s packed into a storage locker. The first Chocolate Crinkles I ever made were from that book. They were plump and tasted like moist, delicious brownies. (The chocolate Bouchons served and sold at Bouchon Bakery are similar in taste/texture to the Euro Crinkle.)

Over the years I’ve tried a few other Crinkle recipes. None delivered the same tallish, rounded cookies. But I found that I prefer the flatter crunchy-chewy version. And the best recipe I’ve found is from Cook’s Illustrated.

Notes:

  • Follow the directions as written, mixing the ingredients gently but thoroughly (I use a hand mixer on low).
  • Spring for the good chocolate. (I use Valhrona natural cocoa and Scharffenberger unsweetened chocolate.)
  • Add the suggested espresso powder for incredibly deep flavor.
  • Don’t be afraid of the dough! It will be runny like a cake batter when you’re done mixing. Let it sit on the counter as directed. It will firm up but it will always be super soft. Handle with care!
  • Check your oven temperature for accuracy because you don’t want to bake these any longer than 12 minutes. There’s a fine line between chewy and underdone, I know. Trust the recipe and verify your oven temperature!
  • The recipe says to make two sheets of 11 rolled balls. I do not. I make three sheets: Two of 8 balls and one of 6 balls. It’s just how I do.
  • Use the ice cream scoop if you have one. It’s the easiest wayreindeer to handle the soft dough.

Not only are these cookies delicious, I think they are one of the prettiest holiday cookies. I love the bright white sugar against the dark surface cracks.

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Crinkles

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

1 c (5 ounces) flour

½ c (1 ½ ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

1 ½ c packed (10 ½ ounces) brown sugar (if weighing, no need to pack it)

3 large eggs

4 tsp instant espresso powder (optional)

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

4 Tbs unsalted butter

½ c granulated sugar

½ c confectioners’ sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325. Position rack in center of oven. Line three large baking sheets with parchment and set aside.

Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in bowl.

In a separate large bowl, combine brown sugar, eggs, vanilla and espresso powder (if using). Mix with a hand mixer on low until well combined.

Put chopped chocolate and butter in a heatproof glass measure and microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 30 seconds until melted.

Add melted chocolate to the egg mixture. Mix on low speed until combined.

Add flour mixture in two additions, mixing on low until just combined (no dry streaks remain). The dough will be wet and runny, like a brownie batter.

Let dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

dough ballsPlace granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in separate shallow dishes. Working with 2 tablespoons dough (or use #30 scoop), roll into balls. Because the dough is so soft make your balls by gently tossing the dough back and forth in your hands. Immediately drop the dough balls into the granulated sugar and gently roll to coat. Transfer dough balls to confectioners’ sugar and roll gently to coat evenly.

Place 8 dough balls, evenly spaced, on two of the prepared sheets, and 6 on the third sheet.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until puffed and cracked and edges haveIMG_3642 begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), about 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.

Let cool completely on sheet before serving. Yield 22 cookies.

These are best the day they’re made, but can be kept in an airtight container for about 3 days.