19 December 2007
After putting my Ginger Cookie Sticks into the oven I sat down to figure out which cookie recipe I would try next. I looked through the family cookbook that I made several years ago and remembered my Aunt Hen’s Christmas cookie baking marathons. The family cookbook contains a list of cookie recipes she planned to bake the Christmas she was 83 years old. There were nineteen different recipes carefully handwritten on her tablet of lined white writing paper.
I think Aunt Hen always enjoyed baking. On many December evenings when I was a girl, I would walk to her house to help her bake cookies. Often she would work on a recipe from her list and I would make another recipe that appealed to my simpler palate. Aunt Hen liked chewy cookies made with coconut, fruit and nuts. I liked pretty chocolate or sugar cookies, without nuts, or gingerbread that was cut into shapes to construct a house or Santa’s sleigh. Aunt Hen always offered support. If she didn’t have the ingredients on hand to make the recipe I chose she would put the ingredients on her shopping list and I could make the cookies the next week. Often we completed 3 or 4 batches of cookies in an evening and stored them away in Aunt Hen’s collection of pretty holiday tins. When our baking was finished we would fill large plates with a collection of our cookies and give them to friends and neighbors.
One recipe I remember baking with Aunt Hen was Chocolate Crinkles. As I looked through my files for the recipe, I found many variations. Some used cocoa powder instead of chocolate. Some used butter or vegetable shortening instead of oil. I found this recipe, copied for me by a friend many years ago.
Note: I didn’t have any squares of unsweetened chocolate so I used 4 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips instead. While I was changing things up I decided to increase the amount of vanilla to 1 tablespoon and add 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon too. Then I omitted the nuts to make the cookies more appealing to a simpler palate.
4 squares unsweetened chocolate (or 4 ounces of chocolate chips)
2 cups sugar
½ cup oil
2 teaspoons (or 1 Tablespoon) vanilla
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (if desired)
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Melt chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a metal bowl over a pan of hot water. When the pieces are melted and the chocolate is smooth, blend in the oil and sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Add vanilla.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if desired). Add to the chocolate mixture until fully blended. Add the nuts if you like.
Chill dough for several hours or overnight. Shape into 1 inch balls and roll in powdered sugar until thoroughly coated. Place balls 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
Yield: Approximately 5 dozen.