Traditions are a funny thing. We like to think they are always important or relevant and that’s why we continue to do them. Some are meant to bring us closer together, some are meant to remember important dates. And some stick out to some of us, but not as much to others. One tradition from my childhood that sticks out to me revolves around baking (big surprise). One of my favorite traditions as a child was making chocolate crinkle cookies at Christmas time. However, I also recall asking my mom when we were going to make said cookies, and her reply being surprise–to her, it was not a tradition.
Nevertheless, it remains an important memory to me. Rolling the chilled chocolate cookie dough into balls before dropping it into a bowl of powdered sugar, waiting for them to come out of the oven, the kitchen and dining table piled with baking sheets.
Which, of course, is how you know the memory has become exaggerated: there can’t possibly have been more than two or three baking sheets in various stages of baking at any one time. Still, it’s a very tangible and happy memory for me, one that always brings a smile to my face, even when I think about how shiny our palms would get with the sticky cookie dough.
I was reminded of this “tradition” this week when I baked these chocolate sugar cookies. I craved cookies and remembered seeing the recipe on Mel’s blog, and decided to try them out. I was really pleased when it looked like I could make the dough in a bowl with a spoon instead of breaking out the mixer, particularly since my Kitchenaid is limping along very sadly. It also meant that Sous Chef could do a lot of the mixing with me. She jumped at the chance to bake (largely because it was cookies…she isn’t always interested in baking with me if it’s not a treat she wants to eat) and pulled a chair over to the counter. We mixed the dough and then I rolled the dough into balls before handing them to her to roll in the granulated sugar. She pushed the dough balls around, squishing them out of shape before placing them on the baking sheet, and memories of making chocolate crinkle cookies at Christmas time with my own mom came flooding into my mind. I smiled widely, and then promptly retrieved my camera. I’m generally not one to take photos of meal preparation, but I made an exception for this.
We baked the cookies, and while I’ll have to adjust the flour next time for my high altitude, they were delicious. Perfectly soft and chewy, with a solid chocolate flavor rounded out by the heavy tablespoon of vanilla.
And I wondered. Surely these would work just as well rolled in powdered sugar?
I may not be able to wait to Christmas to find out. Luckily, with as easy as these were, I wouldn’t mind in the least. And, while it may not become a Christmas tradition for me and my daughter, I hope baking together will become at the very least a fond memory, one that brings us together as even the best traditions do.
Soft Chocolate Sugar Cookies
from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, originally from Cook’s Country
- 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (8 1/8 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (2 1/4 ounces) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 14 tablespoons butter
- 1 3/4 cups packed (12 1/4 ounces) dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1/3 cup (2 1/3 ounces) granulated sugar
Preheat the oven to 350.
Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in a large bowl in the microwave until just melted. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons and stir until melted. Allow to cool to 90-95 degrees (or at least 5-10 minutes if you don’t have a thermometer).
While you wait for the butter to cool, stir the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder together in a small bowl. Set aside.
When the butter has cooled, whisk in the brown sugar, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth. Stir in the flour mixture until combined.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour the granulated sugar onto a plate or into a bowl. Working with 2 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll it into a ball and roll the dough balls in the sugar. Place on the baking sheets and flatten with the bottom of a glass. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of granulated sugar.
Bake one sheet at a time for 12-14 minutes until the tops are puffy and cracked. Don’t overbake! Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely (after you sneak one warm one, of course!)