Dark Chocolate Crackle Cookies with Orange
Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine Holiday Cookie Edition
There are two kinds of bakers: fat bakers and skinny bakers. The fat bakers just love to bake and consume far too much of their product and so… well, they’re giving their lives to the cause.
The skinny bakers used to be a mystery to me until I figured out their secret. They bake for the pleasure of baking and then find a way to dispose of the results without harming themselves. Some skinny bakers find outlets to sell their products- a great trick. Others find ways to foist the calories off on other people. They find circuits of things to bring cookies or pies to: meetings, parties, potlucks and picnics. They’re always looking for someone who just had surgery and needs a dozen cookies to cheer them up.
This is why I rarely bake. Aware that most baked goods are never as good the day after you bake them, I often feel compelled to eat them while they’re at their best. I have no self-control. But I also can’t foist them off on other people without a twinge of guilt. I feel bad because I know in my heart that I’m pushing my “problem” off on someone else. My motivation is actually selfish and I know it. Once in a while that’s a nice treat and I think its lovely. However, I don’t want to do that very often. Most of the people I know struggle with their weight just like me.
I have two cookie recipes that I adore. One is a fast, easy butter cookie. And then there are these. These are luxurious. They take time to make. They’re itensely chocolatey. They’re expensive, as their finished quality depends on copious amounts of high-quality chocolate. They have the most incredible texure: a chewy brownie in the middle with a crunchy outside.
What’s best is that I can keep these in the house without making a pig of myself. Each cookie is a mini-dessert, so one is more than enough to satisfy after dinner. Time doesn’t compromise them as quickly as it does a chocolate chip or butter cookie. I speculate that it has to do with that chewy/crunchy thing. Regardless, I don’t feel so much pressure to eat them quickly. They’ll be just as good in a day or two.
And so will my butt.
For the chocolate
½ pound bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled until barely warm. I buy big blocks of Callebaut chocolate and chop it with my chef’s knife. More readily available, Ghirardelli is nice as well.
2 ½ cups flour (11 ¼ oz)
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups firmly-packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons orange zest, Microplaned or otherwise finely grated
1 teaspoon vanilla
¾ cup chopped chocolate of any kind (except unsweetened). Though it seems like overkill, this is an important finishing touch. Chop the chocolate small so that there are just bits of smooth chocolate throughout the cookie.
1/3 cup granulated sugar, or as needed
Prepare the dough
1. Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
2. Melt the chocolate and allow to cool on the countertop, stirring occasionally. I use the microwave on power level 7 for about 2 minutes. Check it frequently as it won’t necessarily lose its shape until it is stirred. Also, don’t use melted chocolate chips. Most have chemicals in them that keep them from melting smoothly and make them prone to burning.
3. Combine the dry ingredients.
4. Cream the butter, brown sugar, cocoa, orange zest and vanilla, preferably in the bowl of a stand mixer.
5. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time beating each until well-combined.
6. Add the melted chocolate and mix until well-combined.
7. Add the dry ingredients in small additions, stirring until combined.
Shape and bake the dough
1. Shape the dough in to 1 ¼” balls. Dip the tops of the balls in the granulated sugar. Place them on parchment-lined baking sheets.
2. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for about 12 minutes each. Keep the dough cool in the refrigerator between batches.
I’ve always wanted to make these with chopped dried cherries in them and then rolling them in a sugar and ground almonds mixture. Still haven’t done it, though.