Monday, December 12, 2011

Chai Spiced Chocolate Crackle Cookies {For the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap}

How do you choose a cookie to make and send to three people you don't know?  Three people who have food blogs themselves and therefore probably have pretty high standards and will be difficult to impress.  It was a challenge that I happily took on as part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap of 2011. I was just one of over 625 other food bloggers taking part in an international cookie swap of epic proportions.  There was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity like that.  Can you imagine the possibilities?  The dozens of drool-inducing cookies flying all over the nation (and the world as well!) and arriving on your doorstep just for you to taste and become inspired by.

So, really, how do you choose a cookie?  Because if you have a better method than mine, I'd like to try it for next year.  I started out knowing exactly what I wanted to make- an Italian cookie called a dardeed that my grandmother, and now my mother, makes every year.  Then I remembered just how time consuming they are to make and that their thick coating of honey would make them difficult to ship.  Oh well, scratch that idea.
So I began the process of pouring through my cookbooks (several of which are dedicated solely to Christmas cookies) and the food magazines I've been collecting over the years.  I also hit the internet to try to find some inspiration.  Finally I asked my husband who's answer was quick and simple- "how about chocolate crinkle cookies?".  Well, why not?  They're simple to make, everyone loves chocolate, and they would stand up to the rigors of cross-country shipping.  I should have just asked him to start with and saved myself the hours of agonizing over hundreds of recipes.  Then again, all that work reminded me of how many cookies I've been meaning to get to over the years and have now forgotten about.  I'll get to them next year for sure...
But a basic cookie just wouldn't do for this cookie swap.  So I decided to spice the classic chocolate crinkle cookie up with a chai spice blend.  Not too much, just enough to make the chocolate taste more chocolate-y and make you take notice of the exotic spices.  My method to get the spice just right- taste the cookie dough.  I have no problem admitting it.  I took a smidge of dough from the bowl and tasted it, adding small increments of the spice mix into the dough until I had it just right.  I will definitely be making this cookie again.  I just loved the flavors, but then again, chai is one of my favorites.

Thanks to the recipients of my cookies, Cara (The Boys Made Me Do It) and Marnely (Cooking With Books) for the feedback and I'm so glad you liked them!  I'm hoping my third box made it to Heather (Bake it.  Create it.  Love it.).  As a fellow military wife who's hubby recently returned from deployment, she deserves a good cookie.

Chai Spiced Chocolate Crackle Cookies
Adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe.

1 chai tea bag
1/3 cup warm milk
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips (I used Ghiradelli 70% cacao chips), melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
3/4 tsp ground cardomom
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbs) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For topping:
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup powdered sugar

Steep the chai tea bag in the warm milk for 10-15 minutes.  Remove the tea bag and squeeze any remaining liquid from it back into the milk.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, spices and salt.  Set this mixture aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the butter and brown sugar by mixing on medium until they are light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Add the eggs and vanilla and mix.  Then pour in the melted chocolate and mix to combine.  Add the flour mixture in three batched alternating with the milk.  Stir until all the ingredients are just combined.  Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for 1-2 hours in the refrigerator.  You can also freeze the dough at this point to use at a later time.

When the dough is ready to use, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the granulated sugar and powdered sugar into separate flat containers, such as pie plates or a large flat dinner plate.  Scoop the dough into 1 inch balls and drop them first into the granulated sugar.  Roll the cookie balls in the granulated sugar to coat and then roll them in the powdered sugar also to coat.  Place the cookies 2 inches apart on parchment or silicone mat lined baking sheets.  Bake for 14 minutes.  The cookies will have puffed and the sugar coating will have "crackled".  The cookies will feel firm to the touch.

Cool the cookies for a minute or two on the cookie sheet then transfer them to a baking rack to cool completely.

A big thank you to  the following ladies for their fabulous cookies, check them out!
Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean
Melissa from I was Born to Cook
Jessie from Body and Soul Food


  1. Seriously, amazing. I will be baking these soon!

  2. Thanks Nelly- so glad you liked them! I need to make some more for myself since there were only a few left after I sent them out!

  3. I loved the combination of chocolate and chai in this cookie! Thank you again!

  4. Sounds great! And I totally get the "not doing the basic cookie" for the swap, I felt the same way. I think mine were still pretty basic, but they were new to me, and cute, so it was a great mix :)

  5. Chai is one of my favorites! I just love them and the soft crackle...I can't imagine!! Yum!

  6. They're a nice grown up version of the cookie. One of my new favorites for sure.