Dancing in cookiedom

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who could not hear the music.
~ Angela Monet

If my alarm clocks had any measure of autonomy, they’d probably go on strike. I am like the Mad Hatter’s dormouse – not much gets me up when I am sleeping (actually, tea parties probably would if I were him, but anyway…). I have slept blissfully through No. 8 typhoons as a kid while our neighbours furiously applied tape to their windows and light objects escaping their owners danced, unbridled, in the mad wind outside. When I was little, only one thing never failed to wake me immediately – Grandma’s tickles, when she stayed over. They were horrendous. I have never been tickled so badly since.

Now, I wake up when I have to go to work, of course – but only one thing gets me out of bed, smiling, at any hour. That is not the unavoidable urge to go to the bathroom (though I’ve been told that it is horribly unhealthy to hold your pee, so I am working on it)…

What gets me wide awake and smiling even at 2am is this mysterious rush of excitement that whooshes through me every so often, overtaking all dreams and nightmares. Then I awake as if under a spell, and my feet take me to the kitchen while my brain tries in vain to remind me that I need sleep to function the next day.

This rush of excitement bows to no one, least of all my brain.

Last night, a wave of exhaustion hit me and I went to bed at 6pm. Thanks to daylight savings, my windows were still sunlit at this stage. I slept like a baby till 2am, when trays of crinkle cookies began to parade through my consciousness. I had never before attempted to bake crinkle cookies, nor have they been on my radar recently – so I clutched at my dreams and duvet cover, and tried hard to make the cookies go away…

In the end, I couldn’t get rid of them, so I sat up, placed my laptop on a spare pillow and started looking at recipes. Just as I found a nice-sounding one, my flatmate and her friend returned from a function, so I leaped up to say hello – and decided that since I wouldn’t wake them (they were quite awake), I’d go ahead and bake.

Especially because there were two parts to this recipe.

See, I have once met someone who told me she loves her room and sheets and clothes smelling of baking. I, for one, do not enjoy having hair, clothes and sheets that smell of baking! So I was well pleased that this cookie dough would require refrigeration prior to being baked. This meant I could potter around in the kitchen for a short time to get the crinkle cookies out of my head, then head back to bed still smelling nice.

I really enjoyed it. There’s something about cooking in the still of the night, way past bedtime – lights on, air laden with the dreams everyone on my street is dreaming. Cooking with the moon for company makes my blood rush, my feet dance, especially when I am alone. I don’t know why, but it feels magical and serene; like everything is possible. I like that very much.

This recipe was beautifully simple – melt butter and chocolate; beat eggs and sugar; measure the flour and dry ingredients – whip it all together, pop the bowl into the fridge and let it get ready for the oven while you sleep. Good things happen if you’ll wait without interfering.

I finally fell asleep again at around 5am, then woke up at 8 – and the cookie making began. I’m not one to enjoy routine, so I don’t tend to make cookies too much because I usually find the repetitive rolling and baking in batches pretty tedious. These came together fairly easily though, and I ended up with way more cookies than I bargained for. The recipe said three dozen – I ended up with around 50 little cookies (thank goodness for nice neighbours who relieved me of a few! :-))

These were like brownie-cake pebbles. They were a little chewy, quite moist, but light enough and not unbearably sweet – you may want to skip the cinnamon if you’re not a cinnamon fan (I am). Next time, I’ll try adding coffee to the mix too.

    Chocolate and cinnamon crinkle cookies
    Adapted from Joy of Baking
    ~ 56g butter
    225g dark chocolate, roughly broken (I used Whittaker’s 72% cocoa dark Ghana)
    1/2 cup caster sugar
    2 large eggs
    dribble of Kahlua or vanilla extract (I used Kahlua)
    1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    caster sugar, for coating
    icing or powdered sugar, sifted, for coating (I forgot to sift the sugar today – please sift yours)
    Set a saucepan of simmering water over a low flame and place a heat-proof metal bowl over it, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Melt the chocolate and butter in the bowl, then remove from the heat and set aside.
    In a medium sized bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick, pale and fluffy. Yellow ribbons should fall gently from your beaters when you raise them. Beat in the Kahlua, then pour in the melted chocolate mixture and stir.
    In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Add these to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just incorporated. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until firm (overnight if possible).
    Preheat oven to 170°C. Line two baking trays with aluminium foil or baking paper. Do not grease the foil or baking paper, or your cookies will have yellow patches (I found out the hard way).
    Place some caster sugar in a shallow dish, and some icing or powdered sugar in a separate dish. Run cold water over your hands and dry them, so your hands are cold and the dough doesn’t melt in your hands. Working quickly, shape the chilled dough into roughly 2cm balls – I just used a heaped teaspoon of dough per cookie. Roughly coat each ball of dough with caster sugar, then roll it in the icing or powdered sugar until it is completely coated and no chocolate shows through. Tap the sugar-coated ball lightly so that the excess sugar falls off. Place the balls of dough on the baking tray, leaving about 5cm apart between them.
    Bake cookies for around 10 minutes or just until the edges are slightly firm but the centres are still soft. Do not overbake, or they will lose their lovely moist chewiness. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
    Eat fresh or place in an airtight container – they should keep well for a few days. Yields at least 40 cookies.

P.S. On the dancing note… how cool is this.


10 responses to “Dancing in cookiedom

  1. Sophie just gifted me a couple of these and they are amazing! It’s a little painful knowing there are more sitting over on her desk. So impressed!

  2. I love late-night baking too, that feeling of creating something when everyone else is tucked up in bed. Except I’m usually overcome by exhaustion and end up leaving a huge mess in the kitchen! And if it’s on a work night… SO much coffee is necessary the next day.

    And these. Kahlua? And cinnamon? Genius :)

  3. They were delicious – thank you so much xx

  4. How gorgeous! I’ve never tried making this type of cookie but I think I’ve seen something similar called a little lava rocks or something. Love the crinkle cookies name. Neither have I cooked in the middle of the night but there’s a first time for everything, so who knows…

  5. Thanks Greg! Kirsten, you flatter me. Sophie – any time :-)

    Millie – hehe, I can’t sleep with mess in the kitchen so I clean up and end up needing even more coffee the next day… le sigh!

    Jemma – lava rocks! I like that name too. So apt!

  6. Hi, what a fantastic piece of writing and lovely cookies. i get up to write in the middle of the night but never to bake.. so cool! c

  7. I love the idea of baking in the middle of the night! That sounds so peaceful and fun…the only problem is that my kids get up at 6 a.m. It makes late nights next to impossible. ;)

  8. I have never tried making crinkle cookies, but these look so gorgeous I really want to try.

    I am a real night owl, and I can sleep till at least 10.00am most days (sometimes later), but my late night activity usually leans more towards reading than baking.

    Sue xo

  9. Pingback: Chocolate-Cinnamon Crinkle Cookies « High Tea With Dragons

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