I turned on the TV to watch the Olympics, only to find that the men's 10,000m final was on. No problem, I thought. I could bake my crinkle cookies, take photos, and blog with the race on in the background.
Little did I know that the 10,000m final would have me glued to my seat and biting my nails, shoving these cookies into my mouth like there was no tomorrow:
I think I absent-mindedly ate half the batch before I realized I still needed to take pictures.
I'm finding that the sports that I enjoy watching the most are not the particularly glamorous ones. For instance, I wasn't particularly invested in Michael Phelps or Ryan Lochte's swimming races. Instead, it's stuff like the 10,000m race.
The 10,000m is not a particularly fun or exciting race to watch. It's a herd of men -- admittedly, tall, lean, and shockingly muscular specimens of mankind -- running around a 400m race track 25 times. For the majority of the race, the men stick together in a pack, keeping pace with each other.
As you can imagine, watching men run around a boring track 25 times for half an hour isn't really everybody's cup of tea. It isn't flashy or showy like gymnastics or diving. But for some reason, I was hooked.
There's something to be said about events like the 10,000m race, the hepthathlon, or Olympic weightlifting that really appeals to me. Maybe it's because I used to run long-distances competitively, or because I'm currently an avid Crossfitter (and therefore just fascinated that women in my weight class are easily snatching 200lbs more than me) -- but I don't think that's it. While every Olympic competition demands gritty, hard work, successes in certain disciplines look like soaring triumphs. Take McKyla Maroney's stunning 10-second vault, for instance.
But weightlifting and the 10,000m run? No soaring triumphs here. Even a successful lift looks painful. And the men's faces in every lap of the 10,000m race were nothing but paintings of pure agony.
And I think that's what was fascinating to me. To undergo such a vicious, even painful event all for the love of the sport.
All I can say is... respect.
Most of the time, when I bake things, I go into full military mode -- I bark at my boyfriend to stay out of the kitchen, snap at my roommate for opening the oven door and poking the baked goods before they're ready. But not with these cookies:
Maybe it was the Olympics breaking me out of my anal ways, but I'd never made chocolate crinkle cookies before. The recipe involved taking balls of dough with the consistency of playdough and rolling them around in powdered sugar. I was obsessed with taking "Before" and "After" pictures of the cookie dough balls, documenting how the dough balls expanded and cracked in the oven to give these cookies their beautiful, cracked look:
For the Chocolate Crinkle Cookies:
(makes around 4 dozen)
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (around 72%), finely chopped
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 eggs, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons espresso powder (available at Sur La Table -- but honestly you can omit this ingredient and your cookies will still be delicious)
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt until combined. Set aside.
- Use a double boiler (or, stack a small pan into a large pot of boiling water, making sure the bottom of the small pan doesn't touch the bottom of the large pan) and heat until both the butter and chocolate melts. Make sure you stir constantly so that the chocolate doesn't burn. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Use a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment (or handheld whisk) to beat together the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder on medium-high speed for at least five minutes.
- When the sugar/eggs/vanilla/espresso mixture is ready, lower your mixer speed to the lowest setting and stir in the chocolate/butter mixture (from the second step).
- Once the two mixtures have been incorporated, add the flour/baking powder/salt mixture from the first step. Beat until just combined -- do NOT overbeat or you will get tough cookies and I will cry. There should be one or two flour streaks left in the mixture.
- Chill the dough for 2 to 3 hours. Once the dough has been chilled, it should have the consistency of Playdough.
- When the dough is ready and chilled, preheat the oven to 325 (F).
- Put a cup of confectioners' sugar into a shallow bowl, preferably a large tupperware with a lid. Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop out tablespoon-sized portions of the dough and use your hands to roll it into a ball:
They should be roughly 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
- Drop the dough balls into the confectioners' sugar as you go. Once about five or six are in the bowl (I used 3 or 4 since my tupperware was smaller), cover the tupperware with a lid and shake and toss the bowl to coat the balls with the sugar. Be careful not to do this with too many balls at a time, since they have a tendency to stick together!
- Place the coated dough balls on a lightly greased or parchment-lined cookie sheet, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between them. Bake the cookies in a preheated oven for 10 - 12 minutes. As the cookies bake, they'll flatten out a little bit and acquire their distinctive "cracked" appearance. Remove the cookies from the oven, letting them rest on the baking pan for a few minutes before turning out into a wire rack to cool completely.