Thursday, September 9, 2010

Chocolate Crackle Cookies

This is one of those recipes you file away and mean to make forever but never quite have a reason. It takes a little too long to have ever made the cut for my lunchtime baking challenges, and as the recipe contains a block of chocolate it requires a little extra planning (though I do often have some in the cupboard I won't usually have a whole block). However, tonight the photo in the recipe book was irresistable, and I just happened to buy a couple of blocks of Whittakers chocolate on special so I was prepared.

It's a pretty straightforward recipe, though pretty different from most cookies. Melt chocolate and butter (doesn't it look alluring? I love how melting chocolate looks). Also, kudos to Whittakers for making their 250g block big enough that there's 250g of chocolate and one square left for eating. The OCD inside me has me weighing ingredients straight from the packet, even when theoretically I should just need the exact amount it contains, and tonight it meant I got a little treat as I went. Whittakers win!

The recipe warns not to apply too much heat to the chocolate - when it's mostly melted, as on the left above, you can turn the heat off and just stir until smooth. The next step is adding sugar and then eggs, and if the mixture is too hot you may cook the eggs, which you don't want to happen at this stage (unless you like scrambled-egg cookies).

When you stir the egg in the mixture will become quite thick and viscous. The next step is simply to sift the dry ingredients into the mixture - all the mixing here can be done with a wooden spoon, so easy.

Once the ingredients are all in the saucepan you chill the mixture for 10 minutes or so, just long enough to firm it up enough to roll into balls.

The Alison Holst claims the yield for this recipe is 64-80, and I managed to get 63 (though Mr Cake did steal a bit of mixture so that probably would have got me to 64!) - but they are small for cookies. However, they're very rich so small is good. If you want to make an even 64, divide the mixture into four large balls, take one, divide into four, then divide each of those into four in turn - or you can do it the haphazard way and just fashion truffle-sized balls.

To get the crackle effect you roll each of these little balls in icing sugar. However, I don't quite have the knack for this as my crackle was a bit lacking. I thought the coating below looked pretty generous, but as soon as they're in the oven the sugar partly melts - so mine, though they taste delicious, don't have the fabulous contrast. Guess I'll have to try them again sometime, what a shame. ;-) Does anyone know any tricks with this?

But, regardless of the missing snowy-white topping they are utterly delicious and got the nod of approval from Mr Cake too.

Chocolate Crackle Cookies (from Alison Holst's 100 Favourite Cakes & Cookies)
250g dark chocolate
100g butter, cubed
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup cocoa
about 1 cup icing sugar

Preheat oven to 170 Celcius, with the rack just below the middle. Line a baking tray (or three!) with baking paper or teflon.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a large saucepan with the butter, and heat gently, stirring often, until melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla, then eggs, using a wooden spoon or spatula. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa into the mixture, then mix to combine. Chill until firm enough to roll into balls.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and divide the mixture into balls. Add the balls to the icing sugar four or five at a time and roll the bowl around to fully coat them. Place them on the tray, without brushing off any icing sugar, leaving a gap of 5cm between each. Bake for 7-10 minutes, until centres feel soft and springy when lightly pressed. Store between layers of paper towels to preserve the icing sugar.

Makes about 64.

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