I am very much enjoying Pinchet Ong’s book of Asian inspired desserts, The Sweet Spot. Ong is behind P*ong and Batch. The spiced chocolate crinkle cookies especially appealed to me because they promised to be a more intensely flavored version of the Giant Zebra Fudge Cookies that I made a while back.
Actually, they looked exactly like those cookies, except the Ong cookies were about an eighth the size of the Zebra cookies. The taste was different, of course, because the Ong cookies were heavily spiced with ginger, cadomom, cinnamon and pepper (I substituted the cayenne called for with black pepper). The Ong cookies also had a little bit of texture from a bit of ground almonds and they seemed a bit chewier.
I compared the two recipes and saw that they were extremely similar. The Ong recipe was almost exactly the same as another crinkle cookie recipe in The Taste of Home Cookbook (Ruth Cain’s Crackle Cookies) , except with a little ground nuts and spices added in. It seems that Ong was just cleverly tweaking a classic recipe.
My parents liked the Ong spiced version, although my husband rejected it as too strongly spiced and not sweet enough. I didn’t even make them as spicy as called for in the original recipe! I left out the freshly grated ginger and cayenne. My father immediately picked out the strong cardamom flavor.
I liked the cookies, but found that the chocolate flavor was a bit overwhelmed by the spices. The chocolate ends up complementing the spices instead of the other way round.
Here is what I really liked: the teeny-tiny size, and the zip of salt and some spiciness. Maybe I would try these with less spices or fewer spices. Maybe–instead of the spices Ong suggests–this might be nice with some coffee powder added and maybe some cinnamon for a cappuccino crinkle cookie.
Below, I have given my version of the crinkle cookie, combining the best from the different versions in terms of ingredients and preparation.
Chocolate Crinkle Cookie, Spiced and Unspiced
Adapted from The Sweet Spot, The Taste of Home Cookbook, and Kosher by Design Short on Time
Combine in a medium bowl:
1 cup flour (OR 2/3 cup flour and 1/4 cup almond flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
Optional spices (1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper or cayenne pepper)
Add to the dry ingredients:
Optional spice (2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger)
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine the ingredients until well blended. Chill the dough in the fridge for a couple of hours (or 1 hour in the freezer). You can leave the dough in the bowl or you can scrape out the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap or parchment and wrap it up before chilling. If you are in a rush, you can use the dough right away, but it is very soft and sticky before chilling and much messier to shape into balls.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (375 works too, actually).
Shape the dough into balls. For Jumbo cookies, shape nine large balls (golf ball size, about 2″-3″ in diameter). For medium cookies, shape 3 dozen balls (about 1″ in diameter). For teeny-eeny cookies, shape 6 dozen marble-sized balls, each about 1/2″-3/4″ in diameter. Ong warns that the spiced cookies must be small because they are so potent.
Roll the balls of dough in powdered sugar (you will need about 1 cup of powdered sugar for this). Place the cookies on parchment lined baking sheets (or you can grease the cookies sheets, I suppose, but I always use parchment for making cookies). Place the teeny one about an inch apart, the medium ones 2″ apart, and place .the jumbo cookies, well, even farther apart (use two cookie sheets)
The small will be done in about 10 minutes, the medium will need about 12 minutes, and the larger cookies will need 18 minutes. When done, the cookies tops will be cracked and dry to the touch.
Note: if you do not have cocoa powder, you can use 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate (The Taste of Homeversion). Ong uses a combination of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder (for the above amount of batter, use 2 ounces of melted bittersweet chocolate and 1/4 cup of cocoa powder).
If you want to make these for Passover, you can substitute matzoh meal for the flour. I would like to try these with ground nuts substituting for at least part of the flour. Ong also suggests ground coconut instead of ground nuts. Maybe use 3/4 cup of ground nuts or powdered dried coconut for the flour?