November 10, 2011

Other People's Recipes: New Mexico Chocolate Cookie Crinkles

One of the nicest things about the fall and winter months is all the attention paid to tradition; while my family has rituals for the Fourth of July and the whole month of August is pretty much a party (with both mine and Wife's birthdays bracketing our anniversary over a three week period,) none of these things really stands up to the feelings generated between Halloween and the first week of the new year. Some of these traditions, like the yearly Zombie Walk I posted a picture of on Halloween, involve an activity, but whether it is roasting pumpkin seeds as a family or the deliciously unhealthy "sausage biscuits" Wife makes every Christmas morning, many of them revolve around the kitchen. 

That's why when my friend Mouse talked about the cookies her mom used to make for her, I knew I should try and make them myself.  I had been looking for something tasty to make for a friend who was in town, but even when that didn't pan out it I decided I would like to try and replicate the cookies Mouse had grown up on for her sake.  I had already tried to replicate her nostalgia once, on her birthday, with mixed results.  The candied apples I made in lieu of a cake looked beautiful, tasted wonderful, and played hell on your teeth.  My inexperience with candy thermometers made what could have been a perfect treat more reminiscent of the glass Christmas ornaments my punk friends used to eat to freak people out.  I wasn't going to let one mistake in the kitchen discourage me, however, so I set out to find a recipe.

Fort Knox
Problem was, even Mouse wasn't sure what they were called.  After much thought, she came up with "Krinkles?"  All I knew is that they were chocolate, they were wonderful, and they got their name from the way the top of the cookie cracked as it baked.  With that in mind, I turned to the internet.  After a little bit of looking around, I found a recipe on "The Joy of Baking" that looked promising and sent the link to Mouse via Facebook.  It was quickly rejected.  The idea of coating a perfectly good chocolate cookie in confectioner's sugar?  Blasphemy.  Luckily, Mouse's very own mother decided to get in on the conversation.  They weren't regular Crinkles (with a "C,") but New Mexico Crinkles.   While I wasn't so fortunate as to get her recipe (it was tucked away at Mouse's father's house, and my desire to make these cookies had reached critical mass,) that information was enough to lead me to the proper Crinkles; the ones coated with cinnamon sugar.  Now that I knew I was working with cinnamon as well as chocolate, I was even more eager to make these and returned to the internet.  In the end, I decided upon a recipe by Melissa Snow from the site "Just a Pinch Recipe Club."  It seemed to meet all the criteria from the information I was presented, and more importantly it-for the most part-called for ingredients I already had. 

I waited until a morning that Boy asked for cereal instead of a cooked breakfast and set to work.  These cookies were pretty easy, but I was trying to fit them into a pretty narrow window; I drop Wife off at work by 7, and leave to take Boy to school at 8:25.  There could be no lolly-gagging. 

For those of you who don't like to click links, this is the recipe I was working with:

1 c plus 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 c brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 c granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 to 1 tsp instant coffee (optional)

Pretty straight forward, and it began in the usual way:  combining the dry ingredients.  The flour, baking powder, and teaspoon of cinnamon went together in a bowl and were mixed together.  The brown sugar and the butter got mixed in another bowl until creamy, and then the eggs were added. 

Dry Mix
At this point I had to deviate a bit from the original recipe, although I am glad I did.  Melissa calls for unsweetened chocolate, but I had some semi-sweet chocolate left over from a pie Wife had made the Christmas before, and I was willing to risk the quality of the cookies rather than buy even more chocolate to sit in the baking cabinet.  I melted the required three squares, and added them (along with the vanilla) to the egg/sugar/butter goop.  Nothing had gone in the oven at this point, but already the kitchen was smelling pretty nice.  Once everything is well incorporated, you can begin to slowly add the flour mixture.  This would also be a nice time to preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Usually, I'll put the oven temperature up at top of a recipe, but your dough needs to go into the fridge to chill at this point, so you may as well wait and save the electricity.  

...and Chocolate.
Speaking of, I would give the dough a good half hour of refrigeration.  I didn't have the time, and only gave it ten minutes, but texturally speaking this stuff is a quarter cup of flour away from being batter; it's not easy to roll unless it can properly set. 
Tastes like childhood.
While the oven is heating and the dough is cooling is the perfect time to combine the final ingredients.  This was the other place (again out of necessity) that I deviated from the "Just a Pinch" recipe.  I didn't have any instant coffee, and since it was both listed as optional and didn't figure into Mouse's nostalgic recollections I had no qualms about scrapping it.  However, the mix of sugar and cinnamon just seemed off.  One of my favorite parts of childhood was my mom making me toast with cinnamon sugar, and the ratio in the recipe seemed like sugar with some cinnamon in it, not cinnamon sugar.  I doubled it to a full teaspoon and hoped for the best. 

Once the trifecta of heat/cool/mix has been accomplished, it is time to make the cookies.  I've never had patience with making each cookie identical, but the original recipe says that if you make one inch balls you can get thirty cookies.  I got a reasonable eighteen.  After you make them, roll them in the cinnamon sugar mix and put them on a greased cookie sheet.  I saved my leftover cinnamon sugar for toast; I haven't a clue what you would do with any remaining sugar if you added the coffee as well.  (Except maybe add it to more coffee?)

Ready for the oven
The recommended baking time is twelve minutes.  Due to either altitude or how hot my oven runs I knew I should shave off some time and pulled mine at just over ten.  Let them finish setting on the hot tray for a minute, then remove them to a rack to cool (or put them in your mouth.  They're your cookies.) 

I was really impressed with the way these cookies turned out, and I would definitely make them again.  I don't know what these would be like with the mocha flavor the coffee would provide, and I certainly wouldn't mind making a batch that way in the future, but I am glad I made the change from unsweetened to semi-sweet chocolate.  Neither myself nor any of the people (Boy excluded) who tried these cookies like their desserts overly sweet, and these seemed just right for us-I could imagine them being perhaps a little plain without that extra bit of sugar. 

And as for the girl whose traditions inspired me to make these?  I have to say Mouse was quite pleased, although in the end she only got to have a few as all of the people who came around between when I finished baking and when I finally brought them to work had to try one (or two.)  Even Wife (who usually prefers the savory to the sweet) had a couple.   


  1. Just as an annendum, if you enjoyed the blog, I appreciate your comments, but if you enjoyed the cookies follow the link to Just a Pinch and tell Melissa. After all, it was her recipe.

  2. Four ways I am impressed: 1. "trifecta" What the heck? 2. I didn't know it was an option baking cookies in the morning. 3. Ugliest candy apple award (Outlet Mall - go there). 4. Smiley face was a nice touch! ALANNAH

  3. Trifecta is a word I learned from watching professional wrestling, and many people have assured me it's not real, but I like it and have decided to keep it in my vocabulary. Work nights long enough, and any meal can come at any time. Are you saying that my apples are ugly, and I should go to the outlet mall instead, or that the outlet mall has ugly apples? The smiley was Boy's idea.

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  5. I love how you call him "Boy" :) also these cookies sound figgin amazing! mmm! might have to try them!

  6. Your mother's friend is a genius! I have been adding instant coffee to my chocolate dishes for awhile and it makes a HUGE difference. Really makes the chocolate POP!||Thanks for sharing these

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