These rich and fudgy black cocoa crinkle cookies are delicate and decadent while still being melt-in-your mouth tender thanks to their signature powdered sugar coating.
Black cocoa powder gives these crinkle cookies an intense chocolate flavor that's not too sweet — kind of like a very fudgy Oreo cookie. It also gives them their dramatic black and white appearance.
While all crinkle cookies are great, crinkle cookies made with black cocoa just feel more elegant; like they're dressed up for a black tie gala!
- 🍫 About This Recipe
- 🔪 Ingredient Notes
- 🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
- 🥣 How to Make Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
- ⏲️ Why Chill The Cookie Dough
- 🥣 Why Roll in Two Types of Sugar
- ♨️ How To Tell When They're Done
- 🔪 Recommended Equipment / Tools
- 🍪 How to Store Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
- 👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- 💭 Recipe FAQ
- 📖 Recipe
- 💬 Comments
🍫 About This Recipe
These black cocoa crinkle cookies are the kind of cookie poets write sonnets about.
Black cocoa crinkles are dramatic in appearance, taste, and texture. They are simple, yet complex; dark and mysterious, yet bright and inviting; dense and fudgy, yet light and airy.
The black cocoa flavor is intense without being overly sweet, and a double layer of sugar coatings ensures an even spread of crinkles as the cookies bake.
This is a one bowl, no mixer required cookie recipe that makes a great afternoon or weekend baking project. The dough needs to chill for at least four hours, but is fine in the fridge for as long as 24 hours, so you can make them on a schedule that works for you.
And this recipe took me exactly one try to get right.
Don't get me wrong — I would have loved to test it more* — but my sister and husband were my taste testers on the first batch and threatened to take my baking supplies away if I even thought about changing the recipe. It was perfect as is.
*I did sneakily run a few more tests and am both pleased (and annoyed) to confirm that they were right. The first version of the recipe was the best one.
🔪 Ingredient Notes
Here's what you'll need to make these chewy black cocoa crinkle cookies. See recipe card (at the end) for quantities.
- Flour - Any all-purpose flour will work here. I use King Arthur Baking Company's all purpose flour which has a higher protein content than most grocery store brands. More protein = chewier cookies!
- Black Cocoa Powder - The most CRUCIAL ingredient. While you can use other cocoa powders, if you want the dramatic contrasting black-and-white look and the rich, deep chocolatey flavor, you'll want to get a true black cocoa powder. Not "dark" cocoa powder. Black cocoa powder. If your grocery store doesn't have it in stock, I recommend King Arthur Baking's Black Cocoa Powder* which you can order online.
- Boiling Water - Measure the water after it boils, that way you don't lose any water to evaporation. The boiling water is used to bloom the cocoa powder and bring out its flavor before you add any other ingredients. You could also use hot coffee for a more intense chocolate flavor.
- Sugar - Plain white granulated sugar. This is used both in the cookie dough AND for rolling the dough balls in prior to baking.
- Oil - I like using a light flavored olive oil (like Filipo Berio's Light Flavored EVOO or California Olive Ranch's Mild Global Blend), but any neutral oil (canola, grapeseed, safflower, etc.) will also work.
- Egg - Large eggs, as per usual. To bring an egg to room temperature quickly, submerge it in hot water for about 5 minutes prior to use.
- Vanilla - I use Heilala Vanilla's Vanilla Bean Paste which is an intensely concentrated vanilla flavor. You can also use regular vanilla extract or even use peppermint extract if you're feeling those minty vibes.
- Baking Powder & Baking Soda - These are the chemical leaveners that make the cookies rise and spread in the oven. Without them you won't get the beautiful crackling exterior, so don't skip these!
- Salt - I use Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt which half as salty as other brands. If you're using a different brand of salt, even a different brand of kosher salt, cut the amount of salt in half.
- Powdered Sugar - For coating the outside of the cookies!
*Full disclosure: I received this black cocoa powder as a gift from King Arthur, which is why I used it to test this recipe. I was not paid to promote it or share it. I genuinely like the product and am recommending it because it works well.
🍽 Mise en place (aka "the setup")
Mise en place is a French culinary term which literally translates to "putting in place."
It basically means: Measure all your ingredients and make sure you have all the right tools and equipment ready to go when you need them before you start working.
This can make a huge difference in a) how enjoyable you find the baking and cooking process and b) the success of your recipe!
Here's the mise en place you'll need for this recipe:
- Boil the water. Measure the water after boiling so you don't lose any to evaporation.
- Bring the egg to room temperature. Submerge it in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
- Measure the black cocoa into a large mixing bowl. This is the bowl you'll make the cookie dough in, so make sure you have enough room to add the rest of the ingredients!
- Measure the sugar and oil. Measure these into separate containers or bowls so they're ready when you need them. (But, if I'm being honest, I often measure them directly into the bowl with the black cocoa powder to avoid making more dishes to wash.)
- Combine the dry ingredients. Measure the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a container so they're ready to sift. (Note: Sugar is considered a wet ingredient here, do not add it to the dry ingredients).
- Get out the vanilla and powdered sugar. These are two ingredients that people often think they have or think they know where to find in their kitchens but then end up scrambling to find when it's time to use them in the recipe. Do yourself a favor and just check that you have them before you start mixing anything! If you don't have vanilla, these cookies will still be pretty dang delicious, but if you don't have powdered sugar, it's not worth making these.
🥣 How to Make Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
Start by blooming the black cocoa powder with the boiling water. This step helps intensify the flavor of the cocoa powder and also give you a chance to break up any lumps.
As always, make sure you boil the water before you measure it so that you don't lose any water to evaporation!
The black cocoa powder will start out dark brown in color, but once mixed with water will turn into a thick black paste.
Stir it very well, making sure to use the spatula to press and scrape the paste against the sides of the bowl to smush out any sneaky cocoa lumps.
Add the sugar, egg, oil, and vanilla and whisk well for at least 60 seconds. It's a thick mixture, so use a sturdy, efficient whisk!
When you have a smooth and glossy jet black mixture with no lumps, it's time to add the dry ingredients.
If you have an old school sifter, the tin-can kind with the handle you squeeze or with a crank, you can certainly use one of those. But I like using a wire mesh strainer because it's more multi-purpose in the kitchen, easier on my hands, and much faster.
Sifting the dry ingredients ensures there aren't any lumps and helps add air. It will give you a lighter, airier, and more delicate cookie dough.
Use a wire mesh strainer or sifter to sift the dry ingredients into the bowl.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.
The flour can be sneaky and hide inside the cookie dough. To make sure everything is mixing together evenly, use the edge of the spatula to draw a line down the middle of the bowl and fold the cookie dough over itself.
Rotate the bowl as you fold the cookie dough so you can scrape the sides and make sure there's no hidden pockets of flour there too!
When all of the flour is evenly incorporated, cover the bowl and chill it in the fridge for four hours or overnight before scooping it.
⏲️ Why Chill The Cookie Dough
This is a VERY soft cookie dough. If you tried to scoop it without chilling it would make a big mess and your cookies would spread out into giant puddles in the oven. I know this from experience, unfortunately.
Oil begins to solidify around 45-50 degrees Fahrenheit. Most refrigerators are at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below. Chilling the cookie dough gives the oil time to solidify so that the dough is easier to scoop.
Chilling the dough also lowers the temperature of the dough which will slow down how much your black cocoa crinkle cookies spread in the oven. And it gives the flour time to absorb more of the liquid in the dough which gives you chewier cookies.
I know the chilling step is really annoying. No one likes having to chill cookie dough! We want our cookies and we want them now.
I did test the dough after one, two, and three hours to see if I could shave any time off for you, but four hours (or more) really is the sweet spot here.
It's annoying, but they're worth the wait, I promise!
🥣 Why Roll in Two Types of Sugar
When I was doing my research for these crinkle cookies I wanted to really understand the science of the crinkle. The crinkle top forms when the exterior of the cookie dough begins to set as the interior continues to expand, breaking the sugar-coated exterior into a pangea-like landscape.
I wanted these black cocoa crinkle cookies to have an even, delicate, dramatic crinkle pattern. I didn't want big clumps of powdered sugar with just a handful of large cracks to break them up.
Luckily Cook's Illustrated was one step ahead of me. It turns out the secret to getting a good even spread of crinkles and crackles is to roll the dough in not one but two types of sugar before baking. Here's how it works:
"Coating the cookies with [...] sugar draws out moisture from their surface, promoting cracks by drying out their tops before the interiors set. But granulated sugar does so more efficiently because of its coarse, crystalline structure. As the crystals absorb moisture, some—but not all—dissolve into a syrup. As the cookies continue to bake, the moisture evaporates, and the sugar begins to recrystallize [...] When enough new crystals form, they begin drawing out moisture once again. The upshot: a cookie with a faster-drying surface that is more prone to cracking."Cook's Illustrated
So while you can roll your black cocoa crinkle cookies in plain powdered sugar, it really is worth the extra step to roll them in granulated white sugar first.
♨️ How To Tell When They're Done
These black cocoa cookies bake for just 10 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Because they are so dark, it's hard to tell when they're done.
You'll know they're done when they spread out and are puffed up on top. They'll be slightly domed and will have a beautiful crackled pattern on top.
Black cocoa crinkle cookies are very soft and delicate, especially while still warm. Leave them on the cookie sheet to cool before transferring them to a cooling rack.
The cookies will continue to bake as they rest on the baking sheet, so don't worry about them being under baked. They'll be just fine!
Note: A lot of ovens don't run true to temperature. Mine runs a full 25 degrees cooler than it says! I recommend picking up an inexpensive oven thermometer so you can be sure you're baking your cookies at the right temperature.
🔪 Recommended Equipment / Tools
You don't need a lot of fancy equipment to make these black cocoa crinkles. But there are a few tools I recommend using which will help you get the same results I did.
I've linked the specific tools I used to develop this recipe below:
- Kitchen Scale - If you don't use a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients for this recipe, I can't promise you'll get the same results I did. It's definitely worth using a kitchen scale to measure the ingredients here.
- #40 Cookie Scoop - A #40 cookie scoop holds about 1.5 tablespoons of cookie dough. You will get exactly 20 black cocoa crinkle cookies if you use this size scoop!
- Sturdy Wire Whisk - This is a thiiiiick cookie dough mixture. You'll want a sturdy, efficient whisk to incorporate air early in the mixing process before you add the flour and switch to a spatula.
- Wire Mesh Strainer - Sifting the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients will give your black cocoa crinkles a delicate, light crumb. It's an extra step, but absolutely worth it imo!
🍪 How to Store Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
These black cocoa crinkle cookies are best eaten within 5-7 days of baking. I think they're best within a day or two of baking.
Store them carefully in an airtight container; they're quite delicate and prone to crumbling. I recommend using a wide, shallow container with a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper between each layer of cookies.
Because of the sugar coating, they don't hold up well to being frozen after baking. The sugar tends to melt when they defrost.
While you can freeze the dough balls before rolling them in sugar, I don't recommend it unless you're prepared to let them fully defrost in the fridge before baking. You won't get the same spread and soft texture if you bake them from frozen!
👩🏻🍳 Practical Tips & Recipe Notes
- Any time you work with chocolate, prepare for things to get a little messy. Chilling the dough for at least 4 hours makes it a lot easier to manage. Keep a damp paper towel or a kitchen towel you don't care about nearby to wipe your hands or tools off as needed.
- To help the dough release from the cookie scoop easily, give the scoop a light spritz with non-stick spray before scooping. Key word here is light. Too much non-stick spray will affect the texture of the cookies, so only use it as needed.
- To scrape off the spatula, I recommend using the edge of a plastic flexible bowl scraper.
💭 Recipe FAQ
Black cocoa is an ultra-alkalized (Dutched) cocoa powder. It gives baked goods a dark black color. It's often used in addition to other cocoa powders to deepen their flavors, but for this recipe I used the black cocoa powder on its own to let its unique flavor shine.
Dutch process cocoa is cocoa powder that has been alkalized to remove the acidity from the cocoa. This process also makes the cocoa powder a more mellow flavor and gives it a darker color. There are red, brown, and black Dutch process cocoa powders. David Lebovitz has a whole blog post about the different types of cocoa powder, but the short answer is as follows: All black cocoa powders are Dutch process, but not all Dutch process cocoa powders are black cocoa powders!
If your oven runs hot, the cookies won't spread as much. Use an oven thermometer to make sure your oven is actually at the right temperature!
You didn't chill the cookie dough long enough before scooping and rolling, OR you let the dough warm up too much after scooping and rolling before baking. You want the dough to still be a bit cool to the touch when the cookies go into the oven or else they'll spread out too much as they bake.
A kitchen scale is more accurate than cup measurements and will give you the right ratio of dry and liquid ingredients so that the cookie dough behaves the way we want it to. I tested and developed this recipe using weight measurements. If I were to convert it to volume measurements, I would be using Google — just like you would. And there's no set standard for how much "1 cup" of flour weighs, which means I wouldn't be able to promise you'd get the same delicious results!
Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookies
Black Cocoa Crinkle Cookie Dough
- 180 grams black cocoa powder
- 60 grams boiling water (boil the water, then measure, so you don't lose any to evaporation)
- 192 grams granulated sugar
- 60 grams light flavored olive oil (or other neutral oil)
- 1 large egg (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
- 180 grams all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon diamond crystal kosher salt (use half as much of a different brand)
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 100 grams granulated sugar (½ cup)
- 100 grams powdered sugar (~¾ cup)
- Mise en place. Get your ingredients to the right temperatures, measure them properly, and make sure you know where your vanilla and powdered sugar are!
- Mix the dry ingredients. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Bloom black cocoa. Measure black cocoa into a large mixing bowl. Pour the boiling water over the cocoa and mix with a spatula until a thick paste forms. Scrape everything off the spatula into the bowl and set the spatula aside.
- Whisk in sugar, egg, vanilla, oil. Switch to a whisk and add the sugar, egg, vanilla bean paste, and oil all at once. Whisk vigorously for 60 seconds until everything is combined and very smooth. This is a very thick mixture, it helps to whisk in small sections at first, gradually incorporating more and more from the sides of the bowl until it all combines.
- Sift in the dry ingredients. Use a wire mesh strainer or sifter to sift the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Switch back to the spatula and gently fold and stir until all the flour is combined. The flour is sneaky here and sometimes hides inside the cookie dough — use the edge of spatula to periodically draw a line down the middle of the mixing bowl to "cut" the dough in half in case anything is hiding inside!
- Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight. You can scoop the cookies in as little as two hours after chilling, but the dough is much much much easier to work with after at least 4 hours when the oil has firmed up. You can also leave it in the fridge overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper or silicone mats. Assemble your cookie coating stations: Fill a small bowl with granulated sugar, and another with powdered sugar. Arrange them between the cookie dough bowl and the cookie sheets so you can easily move the dough from one bowl to the other and right onto the sheet pans.
- Scoop and roll. Use a #40 (1½ tablespoon) cookie scoop to drop balls of dough into the granulated sugar. Scrape the scoop flat against the side of the bowl to remove any excess dough so you get uniformly sized cookies. Roll the cookie dough balls around in the sugar, then roll them in powdered sugar. Be generous with the sugar coating! Arrange the cookie dough balls in rows on parchment lined sheet pans about 3 inches apart. You can usually fit about 12 on a half sheet pan.
- Bake for 10 minutes. The cookies will be puffed up and very soft when done, but will sink down as they cool. They are VERY soft and fragile. Let them cool on the sheet pan for 10-15 minutes, then transfer carefully to cooling rack to finish cooling.
- To help the dough release from the cookie scoop easily, give the scoop a light spritz with non-stick spray before scooping.
- To quickly bring an egg to room temperature submerge it in hot water for 5-10 minutes.
- Shoutout to Cook's Illustrated for the science tip to roll the cookies in granulated sugar and then powdered sugar for maximum crinkles!