When it comes to Christmas in our house, and probably yours too, certain things just scream ‘tradition’. They are so much a part of the holiday that it’s as though Christmas would not come if they didn’t take place, and that is especially true (for us, anyway) of food traditions. And the one that screams the loudest?
Cookies. Definitely the cookies.
Now, when my family was young, they were not exactly cookie deprived—not even close! I baked every week, often more than once.
But of all the cookies that ever came from my oven, the one they asked for the most—and ONLY got at Christmas—were Chocolate Crinkles.
These are cookies I have been making since I was twelve years old. It was probably the first recipe I ever wrote down, copied from a young mom whose children I frequently babysat for. She was baking them one day when I went over to their house, and I was smitten—not for the first time—by a cookie. I copied her recipe, finished helping her bake them, and I have baked them every Christmas since then, always following the copy printed in my pre-teen hand.
Chocolate Crinkles have hallowed status in our home. There are rules governing their appearance and consumption…
They are the first of the Christmas cookies to be baked.
They must not be made before Thanksgiving—not even the dough.
The dough only gets made once—even if it means cracking a dozen eggs and melting almost a pound of chocolate to make sure there is enough dough on hand to ensure a steady supply of Crinkles throughout the holiday.
Other cookies can come and go from the Christmas tradition, but the Crinkles stay.
There are no bad Crinkles. Over-baked ones are dunked in hot chocolate or cold milk. Under-baked ones are best eaten as a frozen treat.
When Christmas is over, Crinkle season is over. Begging will get you nowhere.
(It may get you brownies, but no more Chocolate Crinkles will appear until the following Christmas season.)
As cookies go, these are fairly humble, so I don’t know what makes them so wonderful and begged for, unless it’s that deep chocolate flavor.
Or the way they are chewy and melt-y at the same time.
Or the way they make the house smell.
I do know that they are super simple to make, and that if you can stand the sticky hands, kids love to help roll the balls of chocolate dough in the powdered sugar. (Don’t worry about the sugar on the kitchen floor, that’s what you have a dog for.)
If traditions are part of the glue that bonds the individual personalities of a family into a blended whole, then our family is stuck together with a fine coating of powdered sugar.
I hope your family loves these cookies as much as mine does. Thank you for taking the time to visit, and I hope your days right now are merry and bright!
P.S. Jane, wherever you are, my children thank you!
½ cup vegetable oil
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsps. vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 tsps. salt
1 ½ tsps. baking powder
2 cups powdered sugar, placed in a wide, shallow bowl
Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over hot water. Let cool for a minute or two.
While the chocolate is cooling, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder in a small bowl, then set it aside.
In a large bowl, mix the oil, chocolate, and granulated sugar.
Beat in the eggs one at a time, blending thoroughly after each one.
Add the vanilla, then stir in the flour mixture, mixing it in completely.
Chill the dough for at least an hour. (I often leave it in for a few days, baking a few dozen as needed.)
Preheat your oven to 350 F
Roll walnut-sized chunks of dough into balls, and roll them in the powdered sugar.
Place them on a greased baking sheet, or line the sheet with parchment paper.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until just set. They should still be glossy on the tops, but not wet.
Let the cookies set for a minute on the baking sheet before removing them to a rack to finish cooling.
*This recipe is easily doubled.