I had a baking breakthrough yesterday…Cookies! Good cookies! I certainly don’t NEED any more cookies in my life right now. (It seems like they’ve been coming at us from every direction lately.) But we’re headed down to California tomorrow to meet up with Henry’s extended family, and I thought we might like to have at least a few sweets on hand.
For the record, I have pitifully little experience baking cookies (especially for the daughter of a professional cookie baker). It’s not like I’ve never baked cookies, but I don’t think I have more than a dozen batches under my belt. I also don’t have an electric mixer because I don’t have the electricity to power one (although there’s been some scheming about this subject involving cordless drills and such). I could be daunted by my lack of knowhow (and believe me when I tell you that I spent years being afraid to try new things because I might fail or look stupid or whatever), but I didn’t know how to bake bread before I started baking crusty loaves in my barbecue, and I was terrified of pie crust until I powered through and found the right recipe. My barbecue baking experiments have not always turned out so well, but I’m finally feeling pretty comfortable with the fact that my efforts haven’t been “wasted” even if some of my barbecued creations were inedible.
I love a good chocolate crinkle cookie with its moist interior and crusty exterior dusted with powdered sugar. I’d heard that making them can be frustrating and troublesome for even skilled bakers, but like I said, I wasn’t going to be deterred by rumors or insecurities. I decided to go with Williams-Sonoma’s basic recipe, amending it for the mixer-less and oven-less among us, and by some Christmas miracle, they turned out perfect. Hallelujah!
I still have lots of other baking and packing and car cleaning to do between now and tomorrow morning, but I may sneak in another batch of these crinkles or perhaps Yossy‘s Nibby Buckwheat Butter Cookies, which also look delicious.
Also I wanted to say a big Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you. I hope you are having a joyful winter full of good food (not ALL cookies) and friends and family!
I baked these cookies in my Weber propane barbecue using a preheated Lodge cast iron baking pan on top of four fire bricks set directly on the grill. I formed the raw cookies and arranged them on a parchment-lined, thin, stainless steel baking sheet. I brought that baking sheet out to my barbecue and stacked it on top of the cast iron baking pan. The best conditions and accessories for your own barbecue may vary. You just want to be sure to keep the cookies well shielded from the direct heat of the grill, and your accessories must fit in your barbecue so that the lid can close securely.
While my first pan of cookies was baking, I hovered nervously over the barbecue, opening it occasionally to make sure they weren’t burning up. My second batch came out prettier. I guessing that’s because I let them bake for at least nine minutes before opening up the lid to check on them.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
yield: at least 2 dozen1 2/3 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened 1 1/4 cup sugar 2 eggs 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract powdered sugar
Preaheat the barbecue and baking accessories (fire bricks and cast iron baking pan or similar) on medium heat.
Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a whisk. Beat it for a good, long while (like 10 minutes) until it looks pretty fluffy. Add one egg, and beat it more. Then add the other egg, and beat it some more. Add the vanilla, and beat until well blended. Add the flour mixture, and use a wooden spoon to stir until just mixed.
Scoop spoonfuls of the dryish batter, and form them into balls with your fingers and palms before rolling them in a bowl of powdered sugar. Place the raw cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2″ between balls.
Place the cookie sheet on top of your preheated baking accessories, and tightly close the lid of the barbecue. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crinkly crust has set. (Try to avoid opening the lid too many times while they’re cooking.) Let cool completely before eating or storing.