We got back from our Thanksgiving trip to Philly a day early, thinking we would take a day to recover from all the eating, drinking and socializing we enjoyed days before. I woke up blurry eyed on Sunday, wanting and needing more sleep. I walked downstairs to find the kids eating breakfast, full of energy, ready for the next…holiday. Bubba poured me a giant cup of coffee.
“Want to get the tree today?” Today? Can I go back to bed instead? Can we enjoy the after glow of Thanksgiving for just a minute?
“We are getting our Christmas tree today!” the kids sang, as they did laps around the house. What did they eat for breakfast? A doughnut and a glass of Red Bull. Ugh, Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is some of my kids’ energy.
“Sure.” Bubba’s favorite thing about Christmas is getting the tree. How could I say no?
Two hours later we are on the road, again, heading to a Christmas tree farm. We arrive at the farm only mildly annoyed with each other. A man in jeans and a barn coat directs us to a hill. “If you have 4 wheel drive, head up the hill.” The hill is more like a small ski slope and we wonder if our Pilot can make it up. Bubba guns it and before long we are looking down at a hill-side sporadically covered with Douglas and Fraser Firs.
“Is this it?” The kids.
“Yup.” We say unknowingly. Bubba steps out of the car and grabs the saw from the back. The kids follow him. I grab the baby and we are on the hunt for the perfect tree. I point to a sad little Charlie Brown tree. “What about this one?”
“No way Mama!” I guess they don’t share my love for the unloved trees, yet.
The trees start to all look the same, my feet are cold and the baby has a giant snot sliding towards his lips. I search my pockets for a tissue, but find nothing, so I use my fleece mitten. It’s laundry day.
I point to a tall, skinny tree not far from us. We walk over to take closer look.
“Looks good!” Bubba.
Before I can record the cutting of the tree or even ceremoniously say timber, the tree is lying down in the snow. I put the kids in the car and we hoist our skinny Douglas fir to the roof of the car. Bubba realizes we don’t have any rope to tie the tree down, so with an Exacto knife, he slices an old bicycle tube in half and secures the tree. I married MacGyver.
Excitement fills the car as we head home. “My favorite thing about Christmas is unwrapping presents!” G. C nods and agrees. “I like decorating too.”
“I love getting the tree.” Bubba. Ok my turn.
“I love making Christmas cookies.” There it is: making Christmas cookies gets me through the holidays, especially when little hands help. I’m not sure if it is the copious amounts of butter sugar that make me smile or taste testing each batch; either way I love it.
I am starting this season off with Chocolate Crinkle Cookies. I found a recipe in the most recent addition of Cook’s Illustrated. This recipe promised moist and tender cookies with a rich chocolate flavor and plenty of tiny, irregular cracks. I adapted the recipe only slightly by adding both natural unsweetened cocoa and Dutch-processed cocoa powder. Why? Because I didn’t have enough natural cocoa powder in the house. I bet all of one powder or the other will taste just as good. I like to think maybe the combination of cocoa added more depth of flavor to the cookies. Maybe…
The thing that excites me most about these cookies are the tiny powder sugar-coated fissures covering the surface. Turns out it is all about science. Imagine that! To learn more about the science behind crinkly cookies head here. Enjoy the day they are made with a cold glass of milk!
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
Makes about 22 cookies
Recipe slightly adapted from Cook’s Illustrated November & December 2014
1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s.)
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa ( I used Guittard.)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
4 teaspoons instant espresso powder (Optional but I used it.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 325F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoas, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, espresso powder and vanilla. Make sure it is well combined! Next, melt the chocolate and butter together in a microwave safe bowl. (I checked and stirred the chocolate/butter mixture every minute for 3 minutes. You could also melt the chocolate and butter using a double boiler.)
Allow the chocolate to cool a bit and then whisk into the egg mixture until combined. Fold the flour mixture into the chocolate mixture until well combined and no flour streaks remain.
Now let the dough rest, alone, at room temperature for about 10 minutes. While your dough is relaxing, pour the granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar in two separate bowls.
Using a #30 scoop or 2 tablespoons of dough, roll into balls. Place the dough ball in the granulated sugar, coat, and then drop it into the confectioners’ sugar; roll and coat evenly. Place coated dough balls on prepared sheets and bake one sheet at time for about 12 minutes, rotating the sheet pan halfway through baking time. **The cookies are done when they looked puffed, edges are set but centers are still soft. The cookies will seem underdone between the cracks. That is a good thing!** Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet. The cookies taste best the day they are made, but still taste great a couple of days later. If you have any leftover, store in air-tight container at room temperature.
5 Must Make Crinkle Cookie Recipe Links!
Looking for a decadent, fudgy yet flourless chocolate crinkle cookie? Head to Reclaiming Provincial for the recipe. Sounds interesting and Carey’s photos are beautiful!
Molasses and ginger scream holidays to me. So wow your friends at your next cookie swap with Averie Cook’s Soft Molasses Coconut Oil Crinkle Cookies. Amazing!
I made grapefruit crinkle cookies last year and Bubba’s co-workers went nuts for them. Head to Cups + Spoonfuls for the recipe.