Dark Chocolate Crackles

On a recent trip to the grocery store, while waiting in the checkout line, the special issue of Fine Cooking: Holiday Baking caught my eye. I picked it up, quickly looked through it, and knew I had to have it. The magazine has recipes for cookies, pies, cakes (including cheesecakes!) and breads, many of which I can’t wait to try. These Dark Chocolate Crackles were my first choice of what to bake from the many delicious-looking recipes.

When reading through the brief description and ingredient list for these cookies, I was intrigued by the addition of orange zest to the batter. I know that chocolate and orange can be a wonderful combination, so I was expecting these cookies to be good, and they are. They’re rich and chocolatey, with a hint of orange and a sprinkling of sugar on top. Dark Chocolate Crackles would be a great addition to your holiday cookie baking list!

One year ago:  Dark Chocolate-Espresso Cookies

Dark Chocolate Crackles

Printable Recipe

Makes about 5 dozen cookies


  • 2 1/2 cups (11 1/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. table salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 2/3 cup (2 oz.) natural, unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted if lumpy
  • 2 tsp. finely grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 lb. bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled until barely warm
  • 3/4 cup (1/4 lb.) chopped chocolate (white, bittersweet, or semisweet)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar; more as needed


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking liners.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar, cocoa, orange zest, and vanilla on medium speed until well combined, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating briefly between additions. Add the melted chocolate and mix until blended, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until almost completely blended, about 1 minute. Add the chopped chocolate and mix until blended, about 15 seconds.
  4. Shape the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. (The balls of dough may be frozen for 1 month. Thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before proceeding with the recipe.)
  5. Pour the granulated sugar into a shallow dish. Dip the top of each ball in the sugar and set the balls, sugar side up, about 1 1/2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are puffed and cracked on top, 11 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely.

Note: This dough is best used immediately after mixing, without chilling in the refrigerator. I baked half of the cookies immediately and chilled the rest of the dough to bake later, and the cookies that were shaped and baked immediately turned out prettier. (The chilled dough became hard and was difficult to roll into smooth balls.)

Recipe from The Best of Fine Cooking: Holiday Baking

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