It’s that time of the year again. I’m referring to the tortuous slave-powered factory that churns out sweets every year. I’m talking, of course, of my mom’s kitchen during the Christmas season. Every year, we make literally thousands of cookies and seal them for Christmas delivery. And you thought elves had it bad. At least they’re happy about their jobs. It’s a family tradition that everyone work for the cookie corporation. Okay, so I’m bashing it a bit, but it did decrease my excitement about Christmas forever. 🙂 Still love ya though, mom.
I was in charge of scooping and sealing mainly, but I volunteered to do the chocolate crinkles. In all, we made caramel popcorn, Russian teacakes, cinnamon sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, macadamia shortbread cookies, chocolate peppermint bark crackers, oatmeal raisin cookies, gingerbread crinkles, chocolate crinkles, and peppermint sugar cookies. So making one batch of cookies wasn’t that horrendous.
Since their renovation, we now have double ovens to utilize for baking. We used to do it all in one oven and that truly was torture. It was those dark times when I didn’t look towards Christmas break during school. However, now it’s much more efficient. We were able to mix triple batches in her big mixer and rotate cookies in and out of the ovens while the others cool and some were being sealed. All of the mixing and packing took place in two days. This is miraculous compared to the older methods that took about a week.
Chocolate crinkles are a classic holiday cookies. But before we delve into cookies here, I must emphasize something first. Cookies are not chewy and soft, like Nestle Tollhouses. Those are mushy dough plops that you were brainwashed as children to love. America ruined the cookie, I’m sorry folks. Cookies are firm enough to bite off a piece and yet the other piece doesn’t collapse or crumble away. If you prefer to eat your baby-food-like runny messes of a cookie, then proceed to Nestle’s webpage for their recipe.
However, if you enjoy true baking and real cookies, read on. This is a creamed cookie. By that, I mean creaming occurs first with the butter and then sugar with mixing in of dry ingredients later for a fluffier texture. This allows tiny air bubbles to result in the dough. It’s very important in cake making, but I find it equally important in certain cookies.
This particular dough is always a challenge to scoop, even when thoroughly chilled. So we chilled it, rolled it into logs, then chilled it again. Then we sliced off “coins” which became our cookies. A quick roll in the hands, roll in powdered sugar, and into the oven they went.
This is the dough before chilling. Because of how moist it is, it would run into a giant mess in the oven.
Now that they’ve been baked, they must cool and harden. Rolling them in powdered sugar before baking results in the appealing cracked look on the surface. The spreading in the oven facilitates this process.
Meanwhile, I was rolling the finished Russian teacakes in peppermint powdered sugar. Pulse the heck out of some candy canes in the food processor and add that fine powder to your sugar. It’s a new thing we’ve done. For for many years, the teacakes were plain. I like the new addition.
Sealed and ready for joining their friends in the stockpile of sweets.
Yes, I’m pretty sure we’re crazy. That’s 10 different items, 8 of them cookies, with about 375 cookies per type. We were consistent with using a size 70 scoop for most items. That’s over 3,000 cookies, not including the bark and popcorn. Again, I’m pretty sure we’re crazy about holiday baking (at least my mother is).
And it all culminates to this gift basket which will be sent out to friends, family, neighbors, and people I don’t even know. The latter is the worst because I must awkwardly give them a present, reassuring them I’m not a druggie or con man, reintroducing myself annually. I always wondered why I had to deliver items to those I’ve never met, but oh well.
2 cups plus 2 T flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
3 squared unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled (or equivalent of pre-melted)
Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together. In a mixer bowl with a paddle attachment, beat butter with sugar until fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and eggs, adding one at a time. Add in chocolate and mix until blended. Gradually add in flour, mixing just to blend.
Contrary to belief, you CAN over-mix a cookie dough. Place in container and refrigerate at least 4 hours to chill. Another option is to pour onto wax paper and form into a one inch thick log and chill to cut into slices later. This method allows you to slice after about an hour of chilling.
Once chilled, either slice off the log or scoop dough, roll quickly in your hands to form a ball. Roll in powdered sugar, and place on parchment paper lined sheet pan (or a Silpat sheet, if you have it). Do the rolling quickly as your body heat will begin to melt the dough. You may want to wear gloves anyways just to be neat. If scooping, use a smaller scoop and space them so that you have 24 per half sheet (4 columns of 6 drops), or 1 1/2 inches apart in every direction. This allows for spreading without touching. When in doubt, space them apart more than you think is necessary, since you can always place the rest on another sheet. Each ball should be about 1 1/4 inch in diameter. *#40 scoop makes about 62 cookies*.
Bake at 350F for 6 minutes. Rotate sheets around and switch shelves as well. This allows for even baking. Bake for another 6 minutes. Tops should be puffed up and have a cracked appearance. Remove and cool and firm up on the sheet. After 10 minutes, you may slide them onto a cooling rack. Although if you have the space and the sheet pans, you can leave them in the pans while the other sheets bake.
Store in sealed bag or container tightly covered with waxed paper between layers for up to three weeks.
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