Chocolate crinkle cookies have a soft brownie texture and a flavor enhanced by two sources of chocolate; unsweetened cocoa powder and chopped bar pieces. Each delectable cookie is rolled in powdered sugar for a beautiful crackly surface once baked.
When the holiday baking season hits, chocolate crinkle cookies are on the top of my must-bake list. If you’re a fan of cakey brownies, these cookies are like mini handheld versions. The dough has a thick and sticky consistency like a rich fudgy cake and they bake up with a similar texture.
If you’re looking for an easy cookie exchange recipe that will impress your family and coworkers, these crinkles are the perfect solution. The contrast of snow-white sugar with brown cracks and crevices looks like a piece of art. The overall texture is fudgier and doesn’t disappoint in the flavor department.
Let’s talk about Chocolate
The best way to have the most chocolate flavor impact is to add cocoa powder and unsweetened chocolate to the cookie dough. Cocoa powder is the dried leftover solids from cacao beans that have been fermented, roasted, and processed. I also use 100% cacao unsweetened baking chocolate bars, not chips. It’s got a clean, rich, chocolate flavor without the sugar or emulsifiers. It melts smoothly with the butter, to create a silky, fudgy cookie base.
A cakey texture is all about making a base that’s light, airy and moist. Eggs are efficient at holding air when whipped and keeps the dough light while binding everything together. It prevents the cookie from crumbling into pieces. Brown sugar is a humectant which loves to bond to water molecules, so not only does it add a slight molasses flavor but it also keeps the cookies soft.
All-purpose flour is selected because it has a moderate amount of protein for gluten formation. A generous amount of cocoa powder adds volume to the cookie without the added protein for balance. The acidity in the naturally processed cocoa powder also reacts with the baking soda to create carbon dioxide for internal lift, not to mention some baking powder for the extra puff.
Brownie Batter-like Consistency
Making the cookie dough for crinkle cookies is very similar to making a brownie mix. The batter has a similar consistency as the chocolate ganache filling for truffles. Allow the batter to rest for 10 minutes so the melted chocolate can cool down and become a little more solid for scooping. It will feel sticky like a thick brownie batter, but don’t worry, once you place it in granulated sugar, it will be easier to roll into a ball.
Important Steps to Remember
- Allow the batter to cool at room temperature and firm up. This makes it easier to scoop and creates just the right sized cracks. Don’t refrigerate the dough before baking, it reduces spread and causes too wide of cracks.
- Chemical leavening agents are used; baking soda and baking powder. Once the dough heats up in the oven, carbon dioxide bubbles form and quickly break through the surface. The result is numerous thin cracks and a textured white surface.
- Do a double roll of the cookie dough, first in granulated sugar, then in powdered sugar for the most attractive crinkle appearance.
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Granulated Sugar Causes the Crinkles
Rolling the cookie dough balls first in granulated sugar helps to dry the surface quicker during baking. While the surface hardens, the interior is still spreading and setting. Gradually the force pulls apart the surface and causes more cracks than just powdered sugar alone.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, (142g, 5 ounces)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, (44g, 1 1/2 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon baking powder, (3g)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, (2g)
- 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar, (300g, 10 1/2 ounces)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, (15ml)
- 4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, (113g) chopped
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, (58g, 2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, (101g, 3 1/2 ounces)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, (52g, 1 3/4 ounces) confectioner's sugar
- Set oven rack to the middle position. Preheat oven to 325ºF (163ºC).
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla together in a large bowl.
- Microwave chopped unsweetened chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl in 30-second increments, stirring occasionally until the chocolate is melted, heating for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
- Whisk the melted chocolate into the egg mixture until combined.
- Fold flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until no dry streaks remain.
- Let the dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes. The dough will be thich like fudge and feel sticky. It solidifies more as the dough gets cools but does not roll nicely into balls.
- Spread the granulated sugar into a shallow dish.
- Spread the powdered sugar into a separate shallow dish.
- Scoop 2 tablespoons (1 ounce, 32 grams, #30 scoop) sized rounded dough balls and drop one at a time into the granulated sugar, roll to coat and then form into a ball.
- Transfer to the powdered sugar bowl and roll to generously coat. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Evenly space the dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, 11 cookies per sheet pan.
- Bake cookies one sheet at a time until puffed up and cracked, and the edges have begun to set but the centers still look soft and raw between the cracks, 12 minutes. Make sure to rotate the pan halfway through baking.
- Cool cookies on the sheet pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely before serving.
- Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute gluten-free flour for all-purpose flour. I recommend Bob's Redmill 1:1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour.
- Storage: Airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Recipe Adapted From America's Test Kitchen, The Perfect Cookie.
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