I spotted a recipe for CRACKLE COOKIES in a recipe book and thought I would like to have a go. I haven’t made biscuits or cookies of any kind for decades.
You roll little balls of the dough in icing sugar before baking and they crack attractively. Hmmm……how does that work, I thought. Surely the sugar browns in the oven, doesn’t it? However, I looked up crackle cookies on Google and all the entries had similar pictures so it obviously does work. That was encouraging.
These days, most recipes seem to specify “softened butter”, except of course where you rub the butter in or melt it. Now there’s a challenge. I have tried putting the butter on top of the radiator, microwaving it, or just leaving it out of the fridge for a while, all with variable success. Then I read somewhere recently that the best way is to grate the butter straight from the fridge and that softens it. This seemed like a lot of faff but actually it only took a few moments and worked a treat. I will do that every time from now on, as I prefer to use real butter rather than the spreadable stuff from a tub.
You make a fairly stiff mixture then put it in the fridge for a while. The recipe said 3 hours or overnight. That was going to be difficult as I had not planned for advance preparation of the mixture. But then some other recipes on the internet said chill for only 15 minutes, so I chilled it for about 1½ hours.
My recipe then said take tablespoons of the dough, roll it into balls and it makes 60 cookies. A tablespoonful seemed like an awful lot to me so I used dessert spoonfuls, about the size of a large walnut, and it made 40 !!
You roll the balls in icing sugar and place on greased baking trays without flattening them at all.
They turned out perfect – well, most of them did. The interesting thing is that those that were baked on my lovely Pampered Chef baking sheet spread out like biscuits. I love this baking sheet as it is thick and almost bombproof, but obviously it cooks things differently. The ones baked on my old cheap and nasty baking trays –( the type that goes ping in the oven within moments of putting it in as it twists and warps ) - stayed cookie-shaped and came out lovely.
Also the ones that had an unfeasibly thick coating of icing sugar retained their white crackled appearance the best.
They were very nice – a slightly crunchy outside and softer inside and you could definitely taste the spice and the nuts. They were just as good three days later, too.
Here’s the recipe for CRACKLE COOKIES
125 g unsalted butter, softened
370 g soft light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
60 g dark chocolate, melted
80 ml milk
340 g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tablesp cocoa powder
¼ tsp ground allspice (yes, only ¼)
90 g chopped pecan nuts
icing sugar to coat the cookies
Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy
Beat in the eggs, one at a time
Stir in the melted chocolate and milk
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and spice, add a pinch of salt
Stir into the butter mixture, mix well then add the nuts
Chill in the fridge for anything from 1 to 12 hours, depending on how long you can wait !!
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Grease two or three baking sheets.
Take dessert spoonfuls of the mixture, roll into balls then roll in icing sugar to give a good coating.
Space well apart on the baking sheets and bake for 20-25 minutes until firm.
Leave on the tray for 3-4 minutes then cool on a rack.
Makes 40 cookies. They keep for a few days in an airtight tin.