These cookies are one of my favorite holiday traditions. The recipe comes from one of those 30-year-old cookbooks compiled by the wives of my dad’s coworkers. You know, the kind with the paper cover and plastic spiral binding and the handwritten notes (there’s one on this recipe that just says “Yummy!”).
For a long time, that book was the only place I saw that recipe. I started seeing photos of similar cookies online a few years ago, so I poked around a bit before starting this post. I was seduced by one cool-sounding variation that called for three kinds of chocolate, espresso powder, fancy salt, and food coloring. The fancy salt was my undoing–I accidentally doubled the called-for amount. At first the cookies just tasted like salted chocolate, but as I chewed, they tasted more and more like salt with a hint of chocolate. Ugh. Robby–poor unsuspecting victim–and I just looked at each other and threw them away. To add insult to injury, the cookies didn’t crinkle at all.
So I ditched them and went back to the sideways photo that Mom texted to me (I can’t be the only late-20-something who still texts Mom for recipe help. Please tell me I’m not). It’s simple, it’s delicious, and it makes 3 dozen plus cookies which is a bonus for this time of year when it seems like you need to contribute some edible to some gathering every other day.
These do take a little pre-planning, because the dough needs to chill for a couple of hours (I think you might be able to get away with not chilling, but the dough will be harder to handle and the cookies might spread a lot). Simple chocolate dough is rolled into balls and dipped in powdered sugar. When they bake, they spread, creating the crinkled look.
Please know: These cookies are meant to be soft! When juuust the right amount of underdone, they are soft and tender in the middle with just a hint of crisp on the outside, and that beautiful crinkliness on the outside. When in doubt, take the first batch out early. You can cook the next tray longer if you need to.
The lesson is this: You don’t need the three kinds of chocolate, espresso powder, or fancy salt, and you sure as heck don’t need the food coloring. Sometimes all you need is the same kind of chocolate you’ve used forever, equal parts sugar and flour, and a bowl of powdered sugar. These are perfect. Don’t overcomplicate perfection.
1/2 cup oil
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
In a stand mixer or by hand, combine oil, chocolate, and sugar. Stir in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla. Add dry ingredients a little at a time until dough is well mixed.
Cover dough and chill at least 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease cookie sheets, or cover with parchment paper.
Chilled dough will still be soft. Shape tablespoons of dough into balls and roll in powdered sugar.
Bake for 10-12 minutes (they'll appear undercooked). Remove to cooling racks immediately.
Cookies freeze well! They can be brought to room temperature or eaten half-frozen (my personal favorite).