Sunday, August 26, 2012

Super Simple Crackle Cookies

The truth is, I like to refer to these cookies as "cocaine cookies," because they're covered in powdered sugar. But I think calling them "crackle cookies" sounds a little... nicer, I guess? Anyway, this is a recipe that I remember learning while in a cooking class in high school. It only involves four simple ingredients. The best part? You can make these sweet, chewy cookies any flavor you want just by using different flavors of cake mix.

Speaking of cake mix... I've just discovered a disturbing and apparently recent trend in the cake mix industry. When I went to the store to buy my cake mix, the first thing I noticed was that the particular brand I usually get had raised in price by 20 cents. While perturbed, I kind of shrugged it off. But suddenly I noticed something else that was different -- instead of the usual (and I would assume standard) 18.25 ounces, the box indicated that it only contained 15.25 ounces. So, wait a minute... Why am I being charged more money for less product? I put the box back and picked up a different brand that was still the standard 18.25 ounces, despite it being slightly more expensive per ounce.

I looked up some information on the Internet and found that many consumers are upset over the change in product volume. While companies say that they have "reformulated" their cake mixes so that they produce the same size cakes with less mix, the general consensus among bakers seems to be that the new formula just doesn't work. The cakes sink or otherwise don't turn out right, have more air bubbles and therefore more holes due to the increase in leavening agents, and when making cupcakes one must choose between making them smaller or simply making fewer than the standard 24. And in case you're wondering, yes, the boxes that contain 15.25 ounces still say that you can make one 13"x9", two 8" or 9" round cakes, or 24 cupcakes. How does this make sense? Unfortunately, from what I researched it sounds like all of the major companies that produce cake mix are going to the smaller boxes. ='( I don't know about you, but I'd rather pay a little more for the same formula and amount of product, especially since the recipes we bakers use have come to depend on the standard 18.25 ounce boxes of cake mix.

Well, there's my cake mix rant. On to the recipe!

Here's what you need:

1 (18.25 oz.) box of cake mix, any flavor
1 (8 oz.) tub Cool Whip® whipped topping, thawed in the refrigerator
1 egg
Powdered sugar

Before you even get out the mixing bowl, I must stress that the whipped topping must be thawed in the refrigerator first; the tub should have instructions on how to do so (i.e., place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, do not microwave, etc.). If the Cool Whip® is still frozen when you try to blend it with the cake mix and egg, it will be more difficult to stir and make a uniform batter.

Now that's cleared up, preheat the oven to 350°F and line a couple of cookie sheets with parchment paper. If you don't have parchment paper, you can use a light spritz of baking spray. This is important because this cookie batter has relatively little fat in it compared to other cookies with a butter or shortening base, and it's fat that keeps cookies from sticking to the pan.

In a large bowl combine the cake mix, egg, and thawed whipped topping. It'll take some muscle to mix everything up into a batter, because the mixture will be thick. (I don't think I've tried making this with an electric mixer before, but I guess it couldn't hurt to try. However, I would be afraid of over-mixing, causing the whipped topping to lose its consistency.)

Place some powdered sugar in a shallow bowl and dip your fingers in it; the cookie batter is EXTREMELY sticky and difficult to get off your hands. Then start pinching off small amounts of dough and rolling them in the powdered sugar, giving the cookies a nice, thorough coating. Place the cookies on your prepared cookie sheet, giving them plenty of room to spread. I went ahead and flattened them a bit as well.

Then bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes. Let the cookies cool for several minutes before moving them to a cooling rack or container, because they'll still need a little time to set up.

Once the cookies are nice and cooled off, you can call it a day and store them in an airtight container. Or, if you really like sugar, you can dust them with a little more, like I did. ;)

This recipe is also excellent when made with chocolate or white cake mix, and I would imagine that lemon or orange would be nice and refreshing as well. Experiment! It's fun. =) I happened to make them strawberry this time because my boyfriend loves strawberry. No matter what flavor you use, these cookies are sweet and chewy and just awesome.

Your cupcake,

~Jesia <3

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