Thursday, September 11, 2008

Chocolate Crackle cookies

1/4 cup shortening, melted
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup oil
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 to 1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening, cocoa, oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well mixed. Add flour, salt, and baking powder. Mix well, then add walnuts and chocolate chips, if desired. (Dough will be very sticky and almost runny.) Refrigerate dough for 2 to 3 hours or overnight. Drop and gently roll dough by tablespoonfuls in powdered sugar, being careful not to overhandle dough. Place on a greased or wax paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes. Do not overbake. The cookie dough may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days; baked cookies will store for at least 2 weeks, if well covered and refrigerated. These cookies freeze beautifully. Makes approximately 5 dozen cookies.
Cook's notes: These cookies are like poetry in motion. You will find that these are my most favorite cookies to take to any function. I usually double the recipe because, as the recipe says, they freeze beautifully! (You will end up with 2-3 gallon bags full of cookies if you double to recipe) What's wonderful is that you can literally eat these straight from the freezer. I am all about doing mass baking! Be prepared to have some amazingly messy hands by the time you are done rolling these babies out. The toughest part about this recipe is keeping the dough hard enough to be rolled in the powdered sugar. Here is the technique that I've found works best for me (since the dough gets incredibly sticky by being out of the regrigerator or being handled) : First of all, I do use my tablespoon to scoop the dough; you do not need to be precise about it though (I tend to get way too much dough if I don't do this). Once the first batch is going, roll as many of the dough balls as you can within the first 6-7 minutes of baking your first batch, meanwhile putting them in a bowl or tupperware container (I prefer to use my 1/2 gallon size just because it usually accommodates 15 balls for one layer- which is how many cookies fit on a 16 by 24 in. baking sheets). Put these in the freezer while you prepare the batch that will go in the oven- roll balls and roll in powdered sugar. Once that batch goes into the oven, roll more balls and put them in a second bowl/container. Put these into the freezer, and pull the balls that were initially frozen; roll them in the powdered sugar just a couple minutes before the second batch is done. However you find works best for you, just be sure to keep the dough in the refrigerator or freezer when not being worked with.
Phew!! Yes.. this is a lot of baking at once and a lot of rolling, but the end results are well worth it!
Baking all these cookies works best with using 3 rotating cookie sheets.
These cookies peel off of baking mats so wonderfully! If you do not have a baking mat, then I would suggest using the wax paper (they do sometimes stick excessively to these on occasion, but not as much as to a plain baking sheet)- definitely find out what works best for you. Do take note that you will not get the "crackle" effect if you roll the dough in the powdered sugar too far in advance, that's why I tend to roll them in the powdered sugar no more than a couple minutes before putting them in the oven. Additionally, do not be conservative with the powdered sugar, make sure and coat it when rolling. One final thought- let the cookies cool for a few minutes before removing from the cookie sheet/baking mat/wax paper.

Preparation time: 15 minutes Active prep/baking time : 2-3 hours (when doubled)
Source of recipe: Lion House Classics

Just a thought... you can google "chocolate crackle cookies" in images if you want to see a picture of these cookies... I plan on eventually posting pictures with the recipes.

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