Thursday, December 13, 2012

Chocolate Crackle Cookies and an education

This weekend we have to make 300 cookies to hand out as holiday packages. They are going in a box with peanut brittle and something else, so they have to be non-peanuty, travel well, and be able to handle a few days of shipping time and still taste good.

After much consideration and a nixing of peanut butter blossoms as being too fragile (they like to lose their kisses), we decided on Chocolate Crackle Cookies.  You know, those delicious chocolate morsels covered in powdered sugar?

We got the recipe from Alan's mom and made a test batch last week.  They were super tasty, but Alan frumped about the house for a while because they weren't exactly like his mom's. Ours were chewy and a little brownie-like, but flat and the powdered sugar wasn't evenly dispersed. His mom's are fluffy and look like what you expect from chocolate crackle cookies, a la Martha Stewart, even though they use different recipes.

Where did we go wrong? We followed the recipe, so we knew that wasn't it. Maybe my baking powder was bad? ....No, I just bought a new container. So I did a little research.

I found some things that I didn't instictually know, like....
* more baking soda = thinner cookies.
*Eggs = puff, so replacing eggs with milk = flatter cookie.
*Butter batters are more likely to spread because butter converts from fat to liquid at a low temperature.
*Crisco, or shortening, melts at a higher temp, so they will stay fluffier with more loft before setting.
*More white sugar in the white-to-brown ratio means a crispier cookie. (I always thought of it as more brown sugar means more chewy)
*Baking powder instead of baking soda adds acid and makes a fluffier cookie.
*Cold dough spreads slowly.
*The smaller the scoop, the more fluff to the cookies.
*Parchment paper absorbs more fat, so use paper instead of a Silpat if you want crispier cookies.
* Silpats retain heat and are not so good if cooking chilled doughs.

So what was a our problem? Oh, a myriad of things. Most notably, I think, are that we chilled the dough for only one hour. It appeared thick and solid, but other recipes I've found have said to chill for at least two hours. Also, I'm thinking the Silpat was partly to blame for the same reason - not cool enough.

I have read in a blog post or two, including the earlier link to Bakerella, that cookies rolled in powdered sugar should be rolled in granulated sugar first because the powdered sugar just melts into the dough when it gets hit with the heat. So if when we make 6 batches of them this weekend we'll try it both ways, sugar and no sugar, and report back. Hopefully somewhere we'll find success!

Chocolate Crackle Cookies
From Alan's Mom (potentially from Taste of Home?)

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
powdered sugar for rolling

Melt chocolate chips in double boiler.  Allow to cool but not solidify. Add sugar and oil; mix.  Add eggs, one at a time, and beat well. Add vanilla.  In separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Add to chocolate mixture in three installments, scraping bowl between additions. Chill dough at least 2 hours.  Roll about 1 tsp dough into a ball and roll in powdered sugar to coat.  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.