The Slow-Cooked Sentence

Christmas, past and present

Rachael Conlin Levy
Sam, 2
Max, 2
From top: Sam and Max, 2.

Christmas, 2003

I discover my 2-year-old twin boys unscrewing bulbs from the string of lights, “sawing” at the wires with a butter knife and drowning ornaments in the Christmas tree basin. What else is there to do but un-decorate the tree?

In the weeks that followed, the bare tree gained new ornaments — Christmas cards, paper chains and those Styrofoam packing peanuts adorned with glitter and paint — simple, safe, sane. I loved that tree.

Safe ornament
My favorite ornament.

Six years later, my twins (and their sidekick) are busy mastering a new set of tools, this time in the kitchen. Recently, Max made Chewy Chocolate Cookies for his dad. The whir of the mixer drew one brother and the scent of chocolate the other, until they were all crowded around the Kitchen Aid enjoying its speed, power and ability to make flour fly!

From left: Sam, Max and Ivan.

Baking with boys is punctuated with exclamation points (Yes! Cool!) and feats of physical prowess (eggs shells are slam-dunked into the garbage can, the refrigerator door is closed with a karate chop). By the end I’m exhausted, but, man, can my bakers whip up a mean batch of death-by-chocolate cookies.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies (per Mindi’s request)
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, January-February 2009

Makes 16 cookies (we doubled it, of course)

1/3 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/2 cup for coating
1 1/2 cups white flour
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder (we used regular cocoa powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup dark corn syrup (we used light)
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (we used Ghirardelli chocolate chips)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk flour, cocoa, powder, baking soda and salt together. Whisk corn syrup, egg white and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter, brow sugar and 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds. With mixer running at low speed, add flour misture and chopped chocolate; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds.

Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly, but no longer than that.

Divide dough into 16 equal portions, roll between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, drop 8 dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coast. Set dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart; repeat with second bath of 8. Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through, until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 11 minutes. (Cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone.) Do not overbake.

Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Chewy chocolate cookie
A cookie to die for.

8 responses to “Christmas, past and present”

  1. your boys are precious. i imagine they make for a lively kitchen! so nice to meet you.

  2. Kyndale sent me here. Hello from Colorado.
    I love that you celebrated Hanukkah, though aren't Jewish (though you do have a very Jewish-sounding name). I am celebrating Christmas with my children, though I'm Jewish. Mostly, we're confused, but festive!

  3. Rachael Levy says:

    Welcome Bright and Blithe and 6512 and Growing! I'm so glad you dropped by and am looking forward to visiting your blogs in the days after Christmas. Happy holidays!

  4. Mindi says:

    oooo, yum, I am going to make those!!! Thanks Rachael! Can you email me the ginger snap recipe?

  5. Mindi says:

    Rachael! They didn't work! Flat, flat, flat…no crinkling…none.

  6. Rachael Levy says:

    Hi Mindi,

    I went back and verified the recipe and found a mistake on my part:

    The flour should be 1 1/2 cups, not 1/2 cup.

    I'm sorry!

    I've emailed you the other cookie recipe.

    Happy New Year!


  7. Mindi says:

    Ahh, I should have known better. Thanks. Would you send the Snap recipe again…I didn't seem to get it. Thanks!

  8. Rachael Levy says:


    I emailed you the recipe for molasses crinkles, but am including it here as well.

    The recipe for molasses crinkles is pretty temperamental. Every holiday I swear I'll never bake them again because at least half the batch just goes flat, flat, flat. But they taste soooo good, that I can't help myself.


    Molasses Crinkles
    3 dozen

    1 cup packed brown sugar
    1/2 cup margarine or butter, softened
    1/4 cup shortening
    1/4 cup molasses
    1 egg
    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ginger
    1/2 teaspoon cloves
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Mix brown sugar, butter, shortening, molasses and egg in a medium bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except sugar. Cover and refrigerate 1 to 24 hours.

    Heat oven to 375. Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place about 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 minutes or just until set. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet.

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