Crackle Tops
  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into several pieces
  • 3/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Pulse the flour, baking soda, and salt in a food processor. Remove to a bowl; do not wash the workbowl.
  2. Combine the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar in the food processor until creamy and well-mixed. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and process until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and pulse just until the flour is blended and a sticky dough forms (it will start to ball up on top of the processor blades). Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten into a 1-inch disk, then wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to 12 hours.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets, or line them with parchment.
  4. Place the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar in a shallow dish. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls, dredge them in the sugar, and place 2" apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  5. Bake, rotating the cookie sheets halfway through the baking time, until the cookies are very lightly colored and set on top, 14 to 17 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks; keeps in a tightly covered container for up to 3 days.
  6. NOTES: Don't go getting fancy with additional ingredients. That's not what this recipe is about. You have been warned.
  7. Having said that, you can add a bit more vanilla to amp up the flavor a bit, or swap out the vanilla extract for another flavored extract, such as almond or citrus. The cookies have a bit of wiggle room in the oven, in terms of time, but make sure to pull them out while they're still pale. In this recipe, dark equals burned sugar. For this reason, I'd avoid using brown sugar - more risk of burning. This makes about 30 cookies.
The name of the game here is simplicity. These are as basic as they come, and that's why they're so good. The name comes from the fact that they rise and then fall in the oven, creating a crinkly texture to the top. Light and airy, they can go with just about anything. This recipe is from Brooke Dojny, who's catalogued many classic New England recipes, and it's as old-school as it gets.