Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

February 23, 2010 at 12:49 am 80 comments

c4wm

Today was my first day back at school after our mid-winter break. Some of my friends flew to China, spending the week amongst hazy neon billboards and frigid vendor’s markets. Another friend passed the time in a bitter whirl of snow that could not dampen his thrill to be in New York. One of my best friends, promising to send a postcard, vacationed in Hawaii. Even without a letter, I could imagine her snorkeling through murky waters that cleared into brilliant clouds of fish.

But me? I stayed home alone most afternoons, not even reaching out to the friends who were still in the area. I watched an embarrassing amount of The Office (my new obsession) and refreshed my Facebook page until, with a pang, I realized that I was the only person online.

This happens to me all too frequently when I am left to my own ways at home – I slip into inevitable boredom. It seeps from the dim lighting and wheezy exhalations of my laptop into my very bones. I feel burdened with the monotony. It feels heavy, like overripe fruit, stifling my motivation. I just don’t feel like doing anything.

c3wm

After my second consecutive day spent in teddy bear print pajamas, I stopped even using my laptop. I had headaches that throbbed too much when I tried to fix my eyes on a screen, but I couldn’t find anything else to do. I didn’t even want to bake.

My dad urged me to go out on my own, even if my friends were out of town. “Where’s your sense of adventure?” he kept asking, like he couldn’t quite believe it had come to this. “Take the car. Venture down roads you’ve never explored. Look around downtown Seattle. Bring your camera. Get out.”

Despite all my general bravado about leaving the west coast, experiencing new things on the other side of the world, exploring everything there is to see – I resisted. I wasn’t in the mood to get lost or sing along with the radio. But finally, sick of stagnation, I swept my hair up and pulled on some boots. I cradled my camera and locked the empty house behind me, head still pressured by migraines.

c7wm

Despite my mood, I was out of the house, wearing real clothes with texture and color and substance instead of shapeless sweats. The moment the door closed, I felt the brittle February air break into my lungs. It was more invigorating than any Tylenol or television show.

At first I drove aimlessly with the sole purpose of burning gas. I discovered a new way to drive downtown. I made wide, comfortable loops that took me towards and away from my house with little thought. That’s when I saw the blueberry farm and reacted before my mind had caught up. I heard the dull crunch of my car pulling onto the gravel driveway, the slam of the door and the sound of the breeze picking up before I’d fully registered. I didn’t even bring my camera.

It wasn’t anywhere near blueberry season. The blueberry plants were trimmed down and leafless, kept in neat rows that stretched out as far as I could see. The trees along the horizon were velvety dark at this distance, and the sun shone through their peaks in solid, separate rays. As I walked, the footprints in the dirt behind me slowly filled with water. I shivered a little at first, my hair whipped across my cheeks, and a smile emerged like a midwinter sunbreak.

c2wm

Sometimes, I think the simplest things can be the best medicine. A walk through an icy, empty blueberry farm without a trace of technology or a thought in my mind. A creased postcard with sea turtles and butterfly fish on the front. Or a genuine “Thank You” and a plate stacked high with sugar-shelled chocolate crinkle cookies, baked with love and devoured quickly.

[PS: Still collecting questions for a future FAQ post, so leave a question for me if you'd like!]

c5wm

Frankly, I don’t always enjoy making cookies because of the repetition involved. But these cookies come together very quickly, and the results are so good that they’re worth a palm coated in batter and a couple powdered sugar sneezes. They’re almost brownie-like in texture: thick, indulgent, and a little chewy with good chocolate flavor. They get a good, slightly crisp outer crust and soft center.

I liked the powdered sugar, but I also tried rolling cookies in cocoa powder, shredded coconut, cinnamon sugar, sprinkles, raw sugar, and sanding sugar. I liked the cinnamon sugar cookies a lot, maybe more than the original. I’m always a fan of simple recipes that are open to lots of variation! Maybe next time I’ll try cinnamon or coffee in the dough itself.

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
From All Recipes
Makes about 7 dozen cookies

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a medium bowl, mix together cocoa, white sugar, and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir into the cocoa mixture. Cover dough, and chill for at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into one inch balls with lightly oiled palms. I used a size 50 cookie scoop to portion the dough, a tablespoon or rounded teaspoon would also work depending on what size you like. Coat each ball in confectioners’ sugar before placing onto prepared cookie sheets. [Alternatively, try other ingredients like cinnamon-sugar or sprinkles.]

Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand on the cookie sheet for a minute before transferring to wire racks to cool.

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80 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Elissa's Dad  |  February 23, 2010 at 1:59 am

    See I told you to get out….and stay out!!! Vanilla Kisses for you little girl.

    Reply
  • 2. linda  |  February 23, 2010 at 5:08 am

    *heart* your dad!
    he is such a great supporter of all things elissa…always giving you sage advice.
    with a cleared mind… (& maybe the subduing of your migraine…)
    simple pleasures can come unexpectedly…

    cinnamon & coffee dough sounds fabulous!

    can you freeze chocolate frosting not on cake? can you freeze an entire frosted & decorated cake? if so (on both q’s) for how long?

    :)

    Reply
  • 3. cindy  |  February 23, 2010 at 5:59 am

    Very moving post. I was totally absorbed with every word.

    Reply
  • 4. LaurieA-B  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Just saw the very nice article about you in Justine magazine. Your photos looked great.

    Reply
  • 5. Good girl gone blog  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:53 am

    My mom makes these! They’re some of my favorite cookies :)

    Reply
  • 6. Valérie  |  February 23, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Beautiful cookies, Elissa!

    Yes, February is a month where it can take a lot of resolve just to step out. I myself tend to stay cooped up, but when I do step out, I’m surprised by how good it feels to be outside – even in the chilly Canadian weather.

    Reply
  • 7. cookeaze  |  February 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Wow! the choclate looks so moist and delicious!The snaps above tempts me to taste as soon as possible..

    Reply
  • 8. Kim, Rambling Family Manager  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Oh, I remember boredom! Something I don’t have the luxury of anymore; when you’re a mom there’s always too much to be done. Treasure your free time, bored or not, and store it up for when life gets overwhelming, as it will. Having time on your hands like that can be as comforting as those jammies you’ve written about.

    Reply
  • 9. Kim C.  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:08 am

    I’m still amazed at how much I love your posts.. and I’m twenty years older than you.. keep it up girl!

    Reply
  • 10. Tay  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:12 am

    Nice post. Very well written. Yes, getting out of the house is a requirement to feeling better sometimes.

    Reply
  • 11. Warm Vanilla Sugar  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:30 am

    These look so scrumptious! I can’t wait to try!!

    Reply
  • 12. Katy  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Looks fantastic. I know the feeling about lack of motivation. Boy, do I know… haha. And I love The Office. Good choice! :)
    From what you’ve written in several posts, it sounds like you have an incredible relationship with your dad. It’s great that he’s always there to support you.

    To Elissa’s dad: I love reading your comments on posts. They always make me smile. :)

    Reply
  • 13. corynnchan  |  February 23, 2010 at 10:03 am

    How did you get so good at writing? Any advice or tips for those who want to write?

    Reply
  • 14. Sassy Molassy  |  February 23, 2010 at 10:50 am

    Oh yum, my favorite bakery from home has some awesome choc crinkles! Great post as well…

    Reply
  • 15. Cousin Sharon  |  February 23, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Ask dad if he remembers Grandma Rose making these. They were always one of my favorites : )

    Reply
  • 16. Amelia  |  February 23, 2010 at 1:19 pm

    OK, I know I should be commenting on the food (which I love, by the way–my mom used to make these cookies all the time; my siblings and I loved them!) but I got very excited when I saw you mention The Office. I think very highly of anyone who likes the show, because I, too, am obsessed. :) -air five-

    Reply
    • 17. Elissa  |  February 23, 2010 at 4:24 pm

      Air high five Amelia! I kinda just discovered it and I watched seasons 1-5 over break… It’s embarrassing. :)

  • 18. Pearl Joy  |  February 23, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I HAVE to make those! they look so good :) we have already made the bagels and the donuts you posted, and they both turned out yummy. i think i will make these sometime.

    Reply
  • 19. Pearl Joy  |  February 23, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I HAVE to make those! they look so good :) we have already made the bagels and the donuts you posted, and they both turned out yummy. i think i will make these sometime soon.

    Reply
  • 20. Mary  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    today, when I first opened to check your blog, I was struck by that stunning first photo of the cookie :) the colors of the cookie against the blue compliments it brilliantly!

    I always look forward to your delicious photos and flowing writing.

    Reply
  • 21. Baking Monster  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    Hi Elissa!
    You are so good at writing! I enjoy every post termendisly.
    1. what do you use for lighting on your pictures?
    2. (dont have to answer if to personel) but what colleges did you apply to?
    3. favorite place to shop for baking supplies?

    Reply
  • 22. allisonmn  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    These look great.

    I totally remember being a victim of bordem during school breaks. I feel for ya! It’s good you got out.

    I need to try these cookies stat!

    Reply
  • 23. Annalise  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Your writing is wonderful. I love the photos of your food and am always inspired to try your recipes, but it’s your writing that really stands out to me and makes your blog unique. I discovered your blog through the bloggies and now I’m hooked!

    Reply
  • 24. cupcakeswin=]  |  February 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    it was my first day back from winter break

    wasn’t fun

    1 hour after getting to school i got sick and well… it wasn’t pretty AT ALL.

    maybe i should make my bros make those cookies

    :]

    Reply
  • 25. fulltimefoodie  |  February 23, 2010 at 5:12 pm

    I love the office, but I have to admit – only in moderation. I’m that kind of person who CANNOT stay at home – so props to you for lasting that long – I really do think I would have gone insane. I’m glad you felt better enough to bake, that’s most important ;)

    Oh, and those cookies look delicious, I love chocolate crinkle cookies.

    Reply
  • 26. Tania  |  February 23, 2010 at 5:27 pm

    Lethargy is so hard to combat, isn’t it?! But it feels so good when you breathe a burst of fresh air and it’s gone.

    These look great, as always. I’m torn between homework and making these right now. (I think the latter will probably win.)

    Reply
  • 27. Ellie  |  February 23, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    It seems silly but I just realized I’ve never commented on your blog. Weird. Anyway, I have to say, this is probably my favorite post so far. February is one of my favorite months and you got it perfectly.

    p.s. I’m glad you got the postcard

    Reply
  • 28. swirledandsprinkled  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Beautiful cookies! You are such a good writer too. You are truly someone to admire :]

    Reply
  • 29. Margarita  |  February 23, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    Oh, Elissa and Elissa’s dad, you guys touched my heart. I admire your dad for being the father that he is and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing it.

    As for those chocolate crinkle cookies they are calling my name. I can imagine using those cookies to dip into some wonderful vanilla ice cream or sherbet. Oh, yummy!!!!!!!!! You might’ve inspired me to do some baking again. <3

    Reply
  • 30. Brownsugarandhoney  |  February 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    writing and baking! 2 things i loveee!(: and yum for chocolate crinkles(:
    question!: do you plan out your baking on a weekly basis or do you just wake up and go with the flow?

    Reply
  • 31. Avery  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Hi Elissa!
    I have been following your blog for a while now ever since I saw an article about you in AOL news. I always love getting into the kitchen and baking, but usually I just can’t find the perfect recipes that seem yummy. I have to tell you, these cookies look AMAZING. I think this weekend I am going to have to take a stab at making them. Also, this is the wrong post to be commenting on about this, but my family and I made your crepes from a while back, and they were DELICIOUS! At first it was hard to cover the whole pan up with batter, and my first one ended up being a gloppy mess. But at the end, we were making them perfectly. Thanks for keeping up the blog! It always puts a smile on my face when there is a new post.

    Reply
  • 32. Roshini  |  February 23, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    Hello Elissa

    Just wanted to tell u…tat i am an ardent follower of ur blog..i believe u have a flair for writing…keep baking and keep us happy :)

    Reply
  • 33. Leesh  |  February 23, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    I spent alot of time refreshing your page hoping for a new blog!

    Reply
  • 34. Erin  |  February 24, 2010 at 11:08 am

    My mom makes these! They have always been a Christmas time favorite! :)

    Reply
  • 35. Mr D  |  February 24, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    ummm these cookies = deelish (though really most cookies = deelish). I embaressingly ate my whole plate in one day. Egads.

    Reply
  • 36. Cookin' Canuck  |  February 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    These cookies are beautiful and look so enticing! Sometimes I find myself falling into the same rut of staying inside, playing around on my computer. As soon as I step outside, I wonder what took me so long.

    Reply
  • 37. Jenny  |  February 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    Learning to be happy doing nothing is a great lesson, thank your Dad for the advice. And keep on writing, you are incredibly good at it.

    BTW, did you know that your blog was critiqued at Delores Custer’s Food Styling workshop last weekend? She had nothing but amazing things to say, not the least of which is that you are not only a good baker, you are clearly a natural photographer and stylist. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  • 38. Rachel  |  February 24, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Elissa!

    my question for you is how you decided to start a cooking blog. I am too and 17 and love to cook! After following your blog for about a month, i am truly inspired to start one of my own! You are absolutely fabulous at what you, so do you have any advice?

    Thanks
    Rachel Davidson

    Reply
  • 39. Kristen  |  February 24, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    I haven’t made these cookies in soooo long, but they are one of my favorite kinds. Yum!

    Reply
  • 40. Alex  |  February 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    I’ve been meaning to make chocolate crinkle cookies. I’m going to have to try your recipe. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one who is hooked on the office. I can watch the same episode more than once. It’s hillarious. You’re such a good writer. I’m able to write poetry, chapters of a book, and plays yet I am unable to write very good blog posts. Kudos to you.

    Reply
  • 41. Agent Minty  |  February 24, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    Cute cookeis!
    It’s inspiring to see someone as young as you are so committed to learning and sharing with teh rest of us!

    Reply
  • 42. Alex Templeton  |  February 25, 2010 at 12:15 am

    made these today ! everyone loved them! thanks for the recipe

    Reply
  • 43. Erika  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Can’t wait to make these for my kids or hey they can make them for me. :) You do such a fantastic job with your blog.

    Reply
  • 44. Maggie  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    Hey Elissa!
    So guess what I am watching as I began to read this? The Office!! Season 5 re-runs all the way! Over the past summer I stumbled upon it and it is the only thing I watch besides Food Network & Style. Well anyway, these cookies look very yummy. I will make them for my Office party! Happy Baking!!

    Reply
  • 45. Maria  |  February 25, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    One of my FAVORITE cookies. LOVE your photos!

    Reply
  • 46. Brooke  |  February 25, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    well i just tried this recipe and they ended up flat and my mom told me they were fine but then told me i should bake with her sometime to learn…ughi feel so defeated they tasted fine but unless they look good no one will eat them of course

    Reply
    • 47. Elissa  |  February 25, 2010 at 9:34 pm

      Brooke – Sorry to hear they ended up flat :( Is it possible you didn’t chill them long enough? The colder the dough is when you bake it, the less they will spread out and the taller they will be. If you’ve got warm hands like me and the dough melts a little when you work with it, roll out the balls of dough and then put the whole tray in the freezer to let them get cold again before baking. Don’t stress or get discouraged, like you said they tasted great and you’ll only get better! :)

  • 48. Jonette  |  February 25, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Thinking about your situation, I think boredom in this case was a very good motivator. Kudos to your dad for giving you the push you needed to be out and about. boredom for artists can be a problem, and is the problem, but it can also be the break or the emptiness an artists needs to start him or her off with thoughts of filling it. Good for you. :)

    Oh! and I’ve given you an award over at my blog. It’s really a meme of sorts, and I hope you find it interesting to do. :)

    Reply
  • 49. Ana  |  February 26, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Looks delicious!

    Reply
  • 50. isabellawhitney  |  February 26, 2010 at 9:19 am

    omg, these look so delicious. you take lovely pictures. i’m 17 too and i love to cook. :)

    Reply
  • 51. byablonski  |  February 26, 2010 at 9:39 am

    I know EXACTLY what you mean about lapsing into the mode of doing nothing. When I have off I just laze around on the couch all day. Baking is normally the first thing I end up doing when I finally get moving :) These look delicious by the way.

    Reply
  • 52. Christina  |  February 26, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I’ve been looking for something to take into the office for my friend’s birthday next week, these might be perfect! Tomorrow I’m making my first shaped cake, ever, for my hubby’s birthday. I never considered such a feat before seeing your Cello cake and oh-so-easy instructions.

    Reply

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Elissa Bernstein



I'm Elissa: a 17 (now 21) year old baker in Seattle Boston juggling creative nonfiction workshops, subway maps, and my passions for writing, baking, and photography. Photo above © Michelle Moore

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I want to read everything. #TheStrand Mmmmm... Green tea chocolate lava cake! #spotdessertbar Last night I sat in @StephenColbert's chair. My life is now complete. AHHHHHHHHH! #ColbertAudience Yay! Spontaneous mid afternoon macaron break. @bouchonbakeryrc Ohmygosh! Strawberry and tarragon gelato! FAO Schwartz is equal parts chaos, commercialization, and crazy happy joy About to eat my first Pink Lady apple! (More like Red Red Red Lady.)

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