Saturday, December 20, 2014
Red Velvet Crackle Cookies
Christmas is less than a week away and I can hardly believe it. It just crept up on me out of nowhere, and I'm entering a slight state of panic. The state where I feel like I'm close to finishing all my Christmas shopping, but it's really not quite done; the state where I'm still trying to figure out what to bake for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but I then realize that there is no way I'll have time to bake everything. My brain is currently jumbled with ideas for treats I should have baked and shared and things I think there's still time to share, and I just got this very inexplicable craving to bake and ice sugar cookies, something I never ever do because it requires patience that I don't have.
In any case, let's try to break away from that mess of a brain I have right now and instead focus on what I actually have managed to accomplish in these past weeks, these Red Velvet Crackle Cookies being one of them. I had been thinking about making something like these for a little while now, and then I ended up seeing them on the cover of this month's Food Network Magazine. I'm sure it was just a happy coincidence, but it made these cookies happen.
For me, crackle cookies bring an element of nostalgia. I remember making them in my 7th (or was it 8th?) grade home economics class as part of our "baking" portion of the curriculum. I shudder a bit every time I think back to that class. They were part of the class because they're easy, very hard to screw up, and really tasty. Fast forward a few years, and I remember my sister asking me to make a chocolate crackle cookie to share on the blog (also around Christmas time). They're just a wonderful cookie that is comforting and tasty, because after all, what's not to love about a chocolate cookie with a soft brownie texture and a powdered sugar exterior?
Nothing, that's what.
As good as the original chocolate version is, I really loved the idea of a red velvet crackle cookie. Visually, I find them to be much more striking, and if this cookie doesn't scream Christmas to you, I don't know what will. It's basically the lazy-impatient-baker's approach to obviously-for-Christmas cookies (we can't all be cookie decorating pros!).
These cookies are a cinch to make. They take a whopping ten minutes to mix up, two hours to chill in the fridge (during which you can wrap presents, write last minute Christmas cards, or begin to panic because you haven't bought either presents or Christmas cards yet), maybe fifteen minutes to roll into balls and coat in powdered sugar (it's a sticky, sweet process), and then another seventeen minutes to bake.
If you can mix together wet ingredients and dry ingredients and melt a little white chocolate in the microwave, you'll have no problem mixing up the cookies. If you can roll anything into a ball and roll it around in powdered sugar, you'll have no trouble shaping these cookies. If you can stick sheet pans in an oven and take them out without burning yourself, you're golden. Really, these are that simple.
The cookies that come out of the oven will be very soft, so it's important to let them cool for a while on the baking sheets; the insides will continue to cook while the exterior gets just barely crisp. After about ten minutes, feel free to transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. This cooling process makes for a wonderfully textured cookie that's crisp on the outside and brownie soft on the inside. The cookies will have spread from tiny balls of powdered sugar to large, crackly cookies with pops of red peeking through the cracks and beneath the sugar. These cookies keep well, so make as many batches as you need to get you through what's left of the Christmas season. They're an easy and delicious way to catch up on your holiday prep.
Red Velvet Crackle Cookies
recipe from Food Network Magazine December 2014
2 ounces white chocolate
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoon cocoa powder
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red food coloring
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioner's sugar
Melt the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second intervals until smooth. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vegetable oil, and food coloring, followed by the granulated sugar and melted white chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture with a wooden spoon until just combined. Transfer the dough to a large piece of plastic wrap and shape into a ball. Wrap the dough tightly, and refrigerate for at least two hours.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.
Add the confectioner's sugar to a shallow bowl. Break off tablespoon-sized pieces of cookie dough and roll into balls, and then roll in powdered sugar to coat. Arrange the balls on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly with your fingertips.
Bake the cookies until they are puffed and firm, about 16 to 18 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy!
Makes about 2 dozen cookies