December 9, 2008
These cookies are a little bit magic, I think. They bring out your inner-child, if nothing else. For one thing, you get to arm yourself with a cool tool, the spring-loaded ice cream scoop:
And with that scoop, you get to sweep through a bowl of chocolate cookie dough, gathering up a perfect tablespoon of dough and leaving wavy streaks in your wake:
Next, you take each bit of dough you pop out of the ice cream scoop and roll it into a ball. Think snowballs, only more yummy (and a lot less tidy; your hands will look like you’ve been slinging mud, rather than shaping snowballs):
Chill the balls in the freezer. While you wait, continue to indulge your inner eight year old by (a) giggling that you’re making balls and (b) marveling at the little chocolate stamps the cookies have imprinted on your baking sheet while they set up in the freezer:
After that, dump a poof of powdered sugar into a shallow bowl and roll each chocolatey sphere in the snowy powder until you’ve erased nearly all the evidence of the underlying chocolate:
Transfer the sugared cookies to a lined baking sheet and make sure to space them out …
… because in the oven, they spread out and flatten under the heat. And that’s where the magic comes in. When you pull them out of the oven a few minutes later, the cookies that were once chocolately globes and then chalky-white orbs have undergone yet another transformation. As they’ve softened, the chocolate has expanded, creating fault lines in the powdery coating:
They’re soft inside—almost brownie-like—and infused with a jolt of espresso. The outside is firm and messy: these are not the treat for clandestine snacking. And they’re called snowcaps, or crinkles—perfectly whimsical names for such a magical cookie.
Chocolate Espresso Snowcaps
Yield: 18 cookies
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 teaspoons instant espresso
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 large egg
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1 tablespoon milk
1/2 cup confectioners sugar, for coating
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, espresso, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg until well combined; mix in cooled chocolate. With mixer on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients; beat in milk just until combined. Flatten dough into a disk; wrap in plastic. Freeze until firm, about 45 minutes.***
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place confectioners’ sugar into a medium bowl; working in batches, roll balls in sugar twice.
Place balls on prepared baking sheets, 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies have spread and coating is cracked, 12 to 14 minutes; cookies will still be soft to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
*** I shaped the dough into balls before freezing it. So, instead of forming a disk and freezing, I shaped the dough into balls (using the ice cream scoop to create a uniform size), transferred the balls to a baking sheet lined with wax (or parchment) paper, froze for 45 minutes, and then rolled in powdered sugar.