I learned how to do nothing for seven hours a day. I didn’t think I had it in me. When I was on bed rest before my twins were born, I decided that doing nothing was entirely overrated, after aspiring for boredom for a decade. This past December, my family, known for shlepping vacations where we sightsee and fly/drive from place to place every two days (Argentina last year), decided to try a resort vacation in St. Lucia.
The one day I was persuaded to abandon my perch at the beach, we went on a boat with three other families to Soufriere, hot springs and a cocoa plantation. The otherwise boring explanation of traditional cocoa bean processing caught our attention when a man in bare feet climbed into a large urn with the fermented and dried beans to polish them with his feet. My three sons jumped at the chance to have their turns, never boys to pass up chocolate or a silly experience.
While on the boat, two of the moms were embarrassed to tell me that they were baking brownies from a mix that night in their villa. The next day, I learned of their “success.” They had completely burned the top while the interior remained batter, apparently some confusion over oven temperature. They decided to turn the brownies over out of the pan so the burnt part was on the bottom and the goo was on top. They announced to their families they were serving chocolate molten cake. They were proud of their delicious creation. I was impressed by the clever marketing.
After landing stateside, we went to our friend’s house in Westhampton, New York for Shabbat. To continue the chocolate theme from St. Lucia, I baked a double batch of these chocolate cookies and we ate them non-stop for two days. We all secretly hoped that no feet had touched the cocoa.
Cracked-Top Chocolate Cookies
Makes 6 to 7 dozen
These cookies can be baked two ways: with or without a coating of confectioners’ sugar. I like to bake half the dough one way and half the other as I like the way the two kinds look on a platter.
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, and cocoa. Add the eggs, one at a time, and whisk well after each addition. Add the vanilla and whisk again. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt and mix well with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
Line three baking sheets with parchment, or bake in batches. Use a tablespoon to scoop up the dough and roll into balls about 1 inch in diameter. If you’d like to coat the cookies in confectioners’ sugar, place the confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl. Roll the cookie balls in the confectioners’ sugar until they are heavily coated with sugar. Place the cookie dough balls on the prepared baking sheets about 1½ inches apart. Place the sheets in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, depending on how chewy or crunchy you like your cookies. The cookies will spread and crack on top when they are almost done. Slice the parchment onto cooling racks and let cool.