After missing the ABC-Bakers’ May challenge – I made the Brown Butter Banana Bread, but went on my trip to Germany before I could post it – the June project, Tender Loving Crackle Cookies came just right to cure my baking withdrawal symptoms.

Three weeks without touching a mixer or kneading a dough!

I rarely bake cookies other than around Christmas – except, the famous NY Times Best Chocolate Chip Cookies”. The crackled cookies looked really attractive, so I decided to give them a try.

Maine’s own Allen’s Coffee Brandy

To enhance the chocolate flavor, I added 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, and, being a Mainer, for good measure, threw in another 1/2 teaspoon of Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy. Otherwise I didn’t change the recipe.

Christina’s cookies are perfectly risen small mounds – mine, alas, turned from nice little balls

into this:

They spread like flounders, especially the ones I shaped last! 

Who was to blame? I found the answer on David Lebovitz’ blog:

Overworking the dough? No, the butter shouldn’t be cut in, but well combined with the flour. 

Slippery, greasy baking sheet? No, I lined it with parchment paper.

Flour too soft? No, King Arthur’s AP has enough gluten.

Sugar too fine? No, I used regular granulated sugar.

Remained only one culprit: temperature! The recipe calls for only cooling the dough half an hour before shaping, it doesn’t mention a second chilling period after shaping.

Even if you work fast – to roll the dough into “perfect little balls” you need to handle it, and it will warm up during that process. Therefore, placing the sheet with the cookies for 15 minutes in the freezer before baking should firm them up and do the trick!

Place the shaped cookies for 15 minutes in the freezer before baking!

I have to admit – at first I wasn’t too smitten by my ugly cookies. I often find that, right after baking, cookies don’t taste that great, but develop their flavor over time, so that they taste better the next day.

The Crackle Cookies had an intense chocolate flavor, a delicate texture, and were so moist that my husband called them “fudgy”. Unlike me, he is no great fan of dark chocolate, anyway, so he left the hard work of disposing of them to me. GOOD FOR ME!

CHOCOLATE CRACKLE COOKIES  (adapted from Christina Marsigliese’s “Scientifically Sweet”)
(16 – 18 cookies)

71 g all-purpose flour
25 g Dutch-process cocoa
1/2 tsp espresso powder
115 g sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
42 g cold butter, cut into pieces
85 g finely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp coffee flavored brandy (optional)
1 cup powdered sugar, for rolling

For chocolate lovers!

Preheat oven to 375°F/190ºC. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture resembles fine bread crumbs (there should be no butter lumps left!) Stir in chopped chocolate.

Whisk together egg, vanilla and Coffee Brandy in small bowl. Add egg mixture to chocolate mixture and stir with a fork until mixture is moistened and combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Using small scoop, shape dough into balls. Roll each in powdered sugar to coat, then place on prepared baking sheets 2 inches/5 cm apart. Place baking sheet for 15 minutes in freezer.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until just set but still slightly gooey in the centers..

Let cookies cool on sheet for a minute or so, before, using small offset spatula, transferring them to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Storage: Cookies keep really well, stored in a tin, at room temperature. Mine tasted still good even after one week.

If you would like to bake along with us – the Avid Bakers welcome new members!


  1. Great minds think alike. I added instant espresso powder to mine. Really easy cookie, really delicious and chocolate-y. Definitely going on my bake-again list. My blog post is finally up.


  2. On my bake-again list, too. Strangely, cookies often don't taste as good right warm from oven, and develop their flavor a few hours later.
    It's hard to keep up with posting, I know, I have so many things I would like to post and don't get to it.


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