Halloween is over and Christmas is just around the corner. Last year’s Christmas list is out and ready to be checked or deleted (depends if you were naughty or nice). Since childhood, I have given baked items to close friends and family because I felt that sharing something I made added a more personal touch and was a gesture that came from the heart. Chocolate crinkles can be made in large batches, easy-to-bake, store and deliver.
To make excellent crinkles the right ingredients must be used. Its main ingredient is chocolate, which has been described by Aztec emperor Montezuma as the “divine drink” because he believed it gave strength and endurance. So high was the value of cocoa beans that they were used as currency during that time. Cocoa beans were brought to Europe in 1502 by the returning crew of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus. Because of its caffeine content, chocolate bars were given to soldiers during World War II to keep them awake. The art of chocolate-making evolved, and in 1828 the Van Houten family from Amsterdam discovered a process wherein the cocoa beans could be pressed so that the cocoa butter content could be extracted then returned to the beans for better flavor and smoother texture. The more cocoa butter content, the higher the quality. This allows the sugar to be absorbed easily and makes chocolate not just for drinking, but eating. When melting chocolate use very low fire to prevent it from becoming bitter and rough textured. Microwave heating can be used but only for a maximum time of two minutes on medium setting per cup of chocolate chips. Incidentally, cocoa butter is highly prized as a beauty product by pregnant women who rub it on their tummies to reduce “stretch marks.”
Other ingredients to make chocolate crinkles include butter which should not be cold or frozen for easier mixing and so that you no longer have to “cream” or soften the butter with a mixer; vanilla extract, 1 whole egg, brown sugar, granulated or white sugar, baking soda, all-purpose flour, milk, and powdered sugar. Brown sugar, which is refined sugar coated in molasses, makes your crinkles chewy; granulated sugar makes it sweeter; while baking soda is a neutralizer for any ingredient that is too acidic. Flour adds volume and texture while the egg holds the ingredients together. In making crinkles, fresh milk is often used, though if you want to use powdered milk use 3 tablespoons milk plus one cup water to get one cup milk.
1) Ingredients: 1/2 cup butter or margarine, 3 squares of one ounce each Ricoa unsweetened chocolate, 2 eggs, 1tsp vanilla, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup thinly sliced marshmallows or chocolate chips, 1/2 cup powdered sugar to sift on crinkles before and after baking.
2) Procedure: Put in a saucepan and melt butter and chocolate over low fire until all the chocolate has melted. Remove and pour chocolate mixture in bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients except powdered sugar and marshmallows. Mix well at high speed for two minutes. When no more trace remains of eggs and flour, scoop dough in trays. Sift powdered sugar and bake 12 minutes. Add marshmallow/chocolate chip and return to oven one minute. Remove tray, cool for 10 minutes. Remove crinkles and store in jars when cold. Tip: Crispy cookies like lengua de gato are stored while warm, chewy cookies must be cooled completely.
3) When melting butter and chocolate both ingredients must have the same temperature. Never melt chocolate using frozen butter as this will cause the chocolate to form lumps. Use a size 18 ice cream scooper and place on a tray lined with wax paper or parchment paper so undersides will have a smooth finish. Leave 2 inches of space in between as the dough will spread. For homemade-look cookies use two spoons to form dough for uneven shape and grease tray lightly with oil so undersides will be rough. Sift powdered sugar on top to create cracks or “crinkles.” Marshmallows or chocolate chips are optional toppings. Bake in a preheated 350° F oven for 12 minutes. Check center, if firm, but sides still soft, remove and cool. Sift more powdered sugar for snow effect. Store in cookie jars lined with paper napkin to absorb excess moisture. Will last at room temperature for a month.