Just a quick post with a recipe for a American-style ‘crackle’ cookie that would be perfect for parcelling up in parchment and giving as Christmas presents or serving up at the end of a festive dinner party with coffee.
Although not exactly quick (the dough needs a little rest in the fridge before you shape them), these cookies are very easy to make and have a lovely flavour, landing somewhere between a brownie and an amaretto biscuit in taste and texture. They also make quite an impact – the contrast of the bright white sugar against the deep, dark cocoa gives you the same jolt as the first dusting of snow on a still, sleeping wintry landscape.
You just need to hold your nerve when it comes to the sugaring stage and give them a very thorough snowballing around the two sugars (more than you think, and then more again). I wouldn’t usually say this, but the more sugar you roll them in, the more striking they’ll be. Oh well. It is Christmas after all.
‘WHITE CHRISTMAS’ COOKIES
Makes 16 or so
100g semi-sweet 70% dark cooking chocolate
110g plain flour
30g cocoa powder (unsweetened)
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/8th of a teaspoon of salt
55g salted butter, at room temp.
130g soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum
Granulated sugar, to roll
Icing sugar, to roll
Several hours before you’re planning to bake, make the dough. Sieve the dry ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar together till paler and fluffy. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract and rum. Stir in the flour mixture. Once it’s all added, the dough should have sort of come together but still be a little claggy, ie, not really shaping into a clean ball. If it seems a little dry, add a small splash of milk and mix it again. Lay out a piece of cling film and transfer the cookie dough onto it and wrap tightly. Refrigerate for around 2 hours.
Preheat your oven to 180°c. Pour around a cupful of the granulated sugar onto a plate, and do the same on a separate plate with the icing sugar. Break off lumps of the dough and, using your hands, roll into balls that are just a little smaller than an inch in diameter. Roll each ball first in the granulated sugar till well coated then roll in the icing sugar so that they have two quite thick layers of sugar. I know it seems strange, but honestly don’t skimp on either of these stages – if you don’t sugar them very thoroughly they won’t have that bright contrast pop that makes them so special and they don’t end up too sweet because of the dark cocoa. Divide the sugar-rolled dough balls between several parchment-lined baking sheets (no need to flatten) and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are crisp and well spread but not yet beginning to darken – my advice would be to do a test run with a tray of just a few biscuits to get the timing spot on for your oven. Cool completely on a rack before packing in an air-tight tin.