Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
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.
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.
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.
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!]
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
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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