Adventures in Baking: It’s The Holiday Season!


Ellie Ostroff

Chocolate Crinkles

Ellie Ostroff, Managing Editor and Columnist

To me, Winter Break means two things: snow and, most importantly, good dessert! Sugar cookies, gingerbread, hot chocolate, Yule logs, macaroons, peppermints, candy canes, and more! There are so many choices that it’s almost impossible to choose. Almost. However, there are some classic staples, and so I picked a Chocolate Crinkles recipe and a Peppermint Bark recipe, both from my favorite baking resource, King Arthur Flour.

First, I made the Crinkles. These are a holiday favorite, with their brownie-like consistency and taste and their delicious sprinkling of powdered sugar on top. The recipe is straight-forward, and the cookie is a pretty basic drop cookie. To begin, I melted the butter and chocolate in the microwave; I recommend Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet Chocolate Chips. Next, I mixed together all of the ingredients (including the espresso powder) except for the powdered sugar and ⅓ cup of the flour (I unfortunately ran out once I was almost done). The recipe instructed me to place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight. I decided to do this and add the rest of the flour once I went to the store.

After 2 hours or so, I took the dough out of the refrigerator and tried to add the rest of the flour; however, the dough had thickened so much it was like concrete, which the directions had mildly put as firming up “considerably.” I succeeded in adding the rest of the flour, however, and proceeded to roll 1” balls of dough in the powdered sugar and bake the cookies.

The crinkles came out per instruction, and, like always, I tried one right out of the oven. It was pretty good, with a deep chocolate flavor and a brownie’s consistency. However, not all of the cookies came out with their powdered sugar intact; some of the sugar had melted and formed a glaze or simply seemingly disappeared, contrary to the normal appearance of crinkles. Since they were easy to make and tasty to eat, I believe this recipe is a decent choice for the holidays if you’re prepared to tackle the thick dough (hey, it’s a great bicep workout!). However, if the signature chocolate crinkle appearance is vital, I would suggest you find another recipe with a different baking time.

Later, I made the Peppermint Crunch Bark, another recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour. This recipe requires very few ingredients – chopped bittersweet chocolate, peppermint oil, chopped white chocolate, and peppermint crunch. It’s also extremely straightforward, which is another one of its merits. There is an important note on what chocolate you use, however. Different chocolates melt differently; some will produce the nice glossy shine associated with chocolate candies, while others will not. To test the chocolate you want to use, melt a little of it in the microwave with some butter. Once it comes out, mix it with the butter. If the chocolate is glossy, it will give you a nice shine when you make the peppermint bark, and you can use it. I used Ghirardelli’s Bittersweet Chocolate Chips and Ghirardelli’s White Chocolate Melting Wafers; these both gave me a beautiful shine and temper well.

I started by melting my bittersweet chocolate chips using short microwave blasts so I could control how much the chocolate melted. I mixed in a ¼ teaspoon of mint extract to substitute for the peppermint oil and spread the chocolate onto a piece of parchment paper. Next, I melted the white chocolate while my sister crushed 12 peppermint candy canes (which are a peppermint crunch substitute). In the future, I will create my peppermint crunch before I start the recipe so that there’s no time pressure to quickly crush the candy canes, since you only have approximately 15-20 minutes from when you pour the bittersweet chocolate until it sets. After mixing half of my peppermint crunch with the white chocolate, I poured the mixture onto the set bittersweet chocolate. The white chocolate was too hot, and it began to melt a little of the bittersweet chocolate, creating a streaked look on the finished product. However, I pressed on and put more peppermint pieces onto the white chocolate to finish the bark.

Ellie Ostroff
Peppermint Bark

After all the chocolate set completely, I tried a piece. The bark was delicious and minty. My only criticisms were that I should have added more mint extract and more peppermint; however, I love mint and I love a lot of it, so if you’re not a mint fan, you should probably use the amount of extract I used and the amount of peppermint crunch in the recipe. I also should have waited for the white chocolate to cool before pouring it onto the bittersweet chocolate.  The only critique I have for the recipe, however, is that the instructions are a bit basic; I would recommend more detail on how to tell if the chocolate is set and when to add the white chocolate. This recipe, however, was delicious and I am definitely making it again for the holiday season.

I hope you find these recipes useful and wish you all Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!