Classic gluten free chocolate crinkle cookies are fudgy inside, with an outer shell of crisp sugar. One of the best festive cookies around!
Like almost everyone else, I really only make chocolate crinkle cookies around the holidays. But why oh why do I save this perfect cookie for just once a year?
You know how M&Ms have a candy shell, and smooth chocolate insides? Well chocolate crinkle cookies are the M&Ms of the cookie world. Confectioners’ sugar forms a kind candy shell on the outside, and the inside is like the most perfect brownie you’ve ever had.
How do you get crinkle cookies to crinkle?
Crinkle cookies are named for the crinkled, crackled appearance they take on as they bake. The soft white sugar on the outside splinters around the cracks that appear on the face of the cookie.
I guess you could call them crackle cookies, but for some reason that sounds positively ridiculous to me. Like “crinkle” is so serious and important.
The secret to always getting that crackle on top of your cookies is simple. Coat the cookies twice in confectioners’ sugar (also called powdered sugar or icing sugar).
Go through all the cookies, coating them in sugar as you go. Then return to the very first cookie, and coat once more, very generously, with sugar.
There has to be a thick enough layer of sugar to form a crust in the oven. Some might call it a candy shell. 😉
If you want deeper crevices and crackle crinkles
I’ve made these cookies so many times over the years, and my priorities have shifted a bit over time. I started out only wanting to make the most beautiful, striking cookies with the most dramatic, deepest fault lines in my cookies.
To make the cookies with those super deep cracks, press your mounds of cookie dough down only slightly when you shape them. Each piece should be closer to an inch thick.
Then, roll them in confectioners’ sugar twice and continue with the recipe as written. The baking time should not vary.
I no longer make the cookies this way, though. They aren’t really stackable, and they’re much more fragile.
Made flatter like you see in the photos and video here, the cookies have more of a uniform crackle. The outer shell is more pronounced, and the cookies travel well.
Ingredients and substitutions
If you are dairy-free, try replacing the butter with vegan butter. Melt and Miyoko’s Kitchen brands are my favorites. Be sure your chocolate is also dairy-free.
I don’t recommend Earth Balance buttery sticks, since they have a lot of moisture and will likely cause the cookies to spread more than we intend. And if the cookies spread too much, the crackled appearance and texture of the inside and the outside of the cookie change for the worse.
There are two eggs in this recipe. You can try replacing each of them with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel).
You can use either Dutch-processed or natural cocoa powder in this recipe. Natural cocoa powder is acidic, but there is a touch of baking soda in this recipe that will neutralize that acidity.
I do prefer Dutch-processed cocoa powder in a recipe like this that is so chocolate-fudgy-forward. I use Rodelle brand, but if you don’t have that, use what you have. If you have Hershey’s Special Dark, which is a blend of natural and Dutch-processed, that works well, too.
For the chocolate, I recommend using bittersweet chocolate because it makes the richest cookies with the deepest chocolate flavor. The term “bittersweet” just refers to the fact that the chocolate is approximately 70% cacao, and has fewer milk solids than semi-sweet, if any at all.
You really can use any baking chocolate you like, though, as long as it’s not unsweetened chocolate, which is quite bitter. Semisweet chocolate works quite well, too, but I would not melt chocolate chips to use in the batter since they contain wax, which helps them keep their shape in the oven.