Friday, October 16, 2009


These are a classic variety of cookie, but I can only recall encountering them once before: when S, one of my roommates in my first post-college apartment, made them. At that point I was only beginning to cook for myself (I mean really cook, not just assemble convenience ingredients), and baking seemed far beyond my reach, so I was mightily impressed that someone would just whip up some cookies in their spare time. It’s likely that my awe amplified the experience, but I remember those cookies being freakin’ delicious.

So when I received Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, a facsimile of a 1963 edition, for Christmas one year, I was happy to see that Chocolate Crinkles were represented. I flagged the page…and then managed to ignore it for several years. There were always hipper, sexier cookies to make, cookies with sea salt and bacon and gourmet chocolate. I even made a fancier version of the Chocolate Crinkle once, with almond meal and Ghirardelli (hmm…I’d nearly forgotten about that recipe; perhaps it’s time to revisit it). I loved the vintage look of the cookbook, but the old-timey recipe seemed almost too simple—and a little weird, too, what with its four eggs, and oil instead of shortening or butter. What if it sucked?

Even after deciding to pull the trigger and finally make these cookies one Saturday afternoon, I continued to worry about potential suckiness, especially at a few key moments: when the dough turned out oddly thin, like cake batter, when I tasted the dough and it wasn’t particularly yummy (I consider eating cookie dough off the beaters the number one privilege of being the cook), and yet again when placing my tiny dough balls on the baking sheet. (I mean, teaspoons? Really? Not tablespoons? I was sure these cookies were going to end up the size of animal crackers.) Not to mention that between the chocolate and the powdered sugar, this was one of the messiest recipes I’ve made (maybe I’m a slobbier baker than some, but I had to mop a sticky coating of sugar off the floor afterwards). But the dough firmed up to a fudge-like consistency after chilling, the cookies puffed up to average size in the oven, and they tasted great. To me, the unique texture is what’s truly magical—the sugar forms a delicate, crackly shell encasing the tender, chewy chocolate within. Especially hot from the oven, when the interior is most brownie-like, these are dangerously addictive. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with old-fashioned.

½ cup vegetable oil
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

1. Mix oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar. Blend in one egg at a time until well mixed. Add vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder, and salt. Chill several hours or overnight.

2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place confectioners’ sugar in a shallow bowl and drop in teaspoonfuls of dough. Roll in sugar, then shape into balls. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes; do not overbake.

Yield: About 6 dozen

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