Every year I make Lumps of Coal cookies for our Church bake sale. They are easy and fun to make, and are wonderful conversation pieces. And last, but not least, they are truly delicious, with a fudgey interior, and a crackly exterior. I apologize for the blurriness of some of the cookies–I’ve discovered that photographing dark lumps is not easy! But it does give some idea of how they look. Here is the recipe, which I originally found in a King Arthur flour catalog. I have made a few changes as to how they are mixed.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/3 cups brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
2/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoon espresso or instant coffee powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: sparkly black sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or use parchment paper.
Cream together the butter and the brown sugar, and then beat in the eggs and vanilla. Mix the dry ingredients–flour, cocoa, baking powder, coffee powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture. It will form a firm dough. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Roll the dough into balls, using about a tablespoon of dough. No need to spend time making perfectly round balls–the cookies will be crumpled up after baking! Bake for about 15 minutes. The cookies will have puffed up and cracked a bit.
Allow the cookies to cool off somewhat–about 15 to 20 minutes. In a large bowl, pour about two to three tablespoons of sparkly black sugar. If you can find edible black glitter, that would work, too. Take a still-warm cookie and squeeze it so it looks more lumpish, and roll it in the sugar. When you squeeze the cookie, some of the melted chocolate chips are exposed, and the sugar sticks to this. This is messy, but fun. I had to wash my hands every five or six cookies.
You don’t have to use the sugar, but it takes the cookie from looking somewhat coal-like, to looking like a glittering pile of anthracite. Much more dramatic!
Baking notes–You don’t have to use the Dutch-process cocoa, but it will result in a deeper, richer flavor. You could also add raisins or nuts to these cookies. When in doubt, it’s better to underbake these cookies than overbake–the interior should be fudgey. These cookies don’t have to be turned into coal! Right from the oven they are good-looking, brownie-like cookies that are fine in their own right!
I wanted to share one other project that I have been working on. At our Church, the Christmas tree in the sanctuary has the most beautiful ornaments–they are called Chrismons, Christian symbols made into ornaments with gold beads and pearls. I have always wanted to learn how to make them, and this week looked on the Internet for instructions. I found a simple design for a beaded cross at Terry Ricioli Designs, and I refer you to her page for the how tos. I gave the project my own spin by using some glass beads and some semi-precious stone beads. The cross on the left is made with carnelians and Czechoslovakian glass beads. The center cross is made with Czechoslovakian glass beads, and the cross on the right is made with moonstones and gold-plated metal beads. These crosses are about three inches long.
Using semi-precious stones is not as extravagant as it seems. Small beads of medium quality can be purchased online from Fire Mountain Gems, as well as at your local craft store. The latest Fire Mountain sale catalog shows 15″ strings of malachite, sodalite, fluorite, lapis, and green serpentine for only a few dollar per string. A dangerously fun hobby to get into!