Clissold Park Christmas Crinkle Cookies
These cookies provide the ultimate chocolatey, vanilla-y goodness to evoke Christmas and comfort. Best served with a hot warming drink.
From the book
I’ve been to grander parties. This is a long way from silver trays of canapés in elegant hotels, or premier cru in posh houses fragrant with feu du bois Diptyque candles and money. But this is the party I look forward to as soon as I flip the calendar over to December. Every Christmas, those of us who walk our dogs in Clissold Park assemble in the breath-misting morning chill to swap stories, drink, eat. A picnic table quickly disappears beneath foil-wrapped and plastic-boxed Christmas treats, thermoses of coffee, paper napkins and plastic cups. Mulled wine, spiked coffee, sausage rolls, mince pies, large tins of Quality Street form a festive breakfast. I always take some biscuits for the dogs and these cookies, which I adapted years ago from an old Martha Stewart recipe. And I always leave the park wishing there were more parties to which it was acceptable to wear your gardening shoes.
|dark chocolate, about 70 per cent, broken into small pieces
|unsalted butter, room temperature
|light muscovado sugar
|eggs, lightly beaten
|caster sugar and sieved icing sugar, for rolling
You will need: a stand mixer or hand mixer.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water (the water should not touch the bottom of the bowl). Melt, stirring from time to time. Cool.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth, then add the sugar and beat until very light and fluffy – you will think there isn’t enough butter, but keep going, it’ll be fine. Add the eggs about a tablespoon at a time, beating until well combined after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and Kahlua if using, then the cooled chocolate.
With the beater/s on a low speed, add a third of the flour mixture, then half the milk, and repeat, ending with the last third of the flour. Mix until just combined. Be careful not to overmix or the cookies will be tough – the dough should be soft and cakey, rather mousse-y. Divide the dough into 2 flattish discs of about 400g each, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. You can make them a couple of days ahead to this point.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Line two baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment or Silpat.
This is going to get messy. Place a large sheet of baking parchment or cling film on your work surface and set up a bowl of caster sugar and a bowl of icing sugar, ready to roll the cookies. It helps if your hands are really cool. Run them under the cold tap or dip them in chilled water from time to time. You’ll need to wash them quite frequently anyway, as it’s a messy business.
Remove one batch of dough from the fridge at a time – you need it to be very cold when you work on it. Break off a small nugget of the dough about the size of a walnut and roll it quickly into a ball. Toss it first in the caster sugar then in the icing sugar until it’s well coated, then place it on the baking sheet. Repeat, handling the dough as little as possible and placing the cookies about 3cm apart, until you’ve used up all the dough. Bake for 10–11 minutes, until the sugar coating has split into a crackle pattern. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely – they will continue to firm up as they cool.
They will keep in an airtight container for about 4 days.
Variation: For an extra-luxe treat (because too much is never enough), chop some dark or milk chocolate into small shards of about 2g each and insert one into each cookie before rolling it in the sugars.
Tip: This dough freezes well, so you could keep the balls, before you roll them in the sugars, in the freezer ready for when you want to rustle up a quick batch.