Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Best Chocolate Drop Cookie Ever

Chocolate drop cookies on black acrylic

My Great-Grandmother’s Recipe Delivers Moist Richness

Who doesn’t like chocolate?  And who doesn’t like a good chocolate cookie?

The trouble is, a really delicious chocolate cookie can be hard to find.  A lot of chocolate cookies look great.  But when you bite into them?  Meh.  Dull flavor.  Chalky texture.   Sometimes acidic or bitter undertones.

So let me introduce my great-grandmother.  She baked one of the best chocolate cookies ever.  They’re moist and rich, with a deep chocolate flavor.


Chocolate drop cookies with milk
Great With a Shot of Milk

Recipe:  Chocolate Drop Cookies

This cookie’s chocolate-forward flavor is nicely complemented by nuts and raisins.  But it doesn’t have the blow-your-socks-off intensity of some flourless chocolate cakes or tortes (you know, where the first bite is wonderful, the second is pretty good, the third is heavy — and suddenly you’re full).  This cookie has a great balanced flavor.  You won’t get tired of it after the second or third one — or even the twelfth.  (But eating a dozen of these at a sitting is for trained professionals only.  Don’t try it at home.)

When it comes to cookies, I’m a consumer rather than a producer.  Fortunately, Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is a superb baker and routinely turns out excellent cookies — including the batch you see pictured in this post.  And she tweaked my great-grandmother’s recipe to reflect modern kitchen practice (everybody melts chocolate in a microwave rather than a double-boiler these days, for instance). 

This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies.  You can store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature, or freeze in an airtight container.

Ingredients
  • 3½ squares (ounces) unsweetened melted chocolate (melt in microwave; see step 2 in Procedure)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts are particularly nice in this recipe)
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar (light brown is what we use)
  • 1 egg (consider using pasteurized; see Notes)
  • ½ cup milk (whole is best, but skim is more than acceptable)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1½ cups flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
dropping chocolate drop cookie batter on baking sheet
Preparing Cookies for the Oven

Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Chop chocolate into bits, place in microwave-safe bowl.  Heat on medium for 30 seconds; check to see if melted.  If not, heat another 15 to 30 seconds, and check again.  Continue until melted.  Do not overheat!  Let cool somewhat before you use it in step 7.
  3. Place raisins in saucepan and add just enough water to cover; place over medium heat; once water comes to a light boil, turn down heat and let raisins simmer while you mix other ingredients.
  4. Chop nuts.
  5. Cream butter using an electric mixer (a stand mixer is easier to use, but a portable mixer works too).  When the butter is soft, mix in the following ingredients one at a time, mixing after each addition:  brown sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla.  Mix until well combined.  
  6. Add chopped nuts and drained raisins.  Mix.
  7. Add cooled chocolate, and mix again.
  8. In a separate bowl, measure flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix to incorporate.  Then add to bowl containing chocolate mixture, and mix until well combined.
  9. Prepare baking sheet(s) by covering the baking surface with silicone mat(s) or parchment paper.  Spoon dollops of cookie batter onto the sheet(s), making sure to leave enough space between dollops so the cookies can spread when baking.  
  10. Bake for about 11 minutes or until done.  What is done?  When it’s baked through, but not dry.  (If you’re not sure, lightly press the top of a cookie.  If it’s done, the top should spring back.)
  11. Cool, then gobble them up.
head-on view of chocolate drop cookie cut in half

Notes
  • This recipe dates back to the 19th century.  Sometimes older is better.
  • You can easily double this recipe — and Mrs. Kitchen Riffs usually does.  Since a double batch is too much for even the Kitchen Riffs household to consume, we usually give most of them away.  No one has ever turned them down.     
  • The original recipe states that you can substitute 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder for the solid chocolate.  Mrs. Kitchen Riffs has baked these cookies both ways, and believes the melted solid chocolate produces a far superior cookie.
  • If you are going to use cocoa, don’t use Dutch process.  Why?  Baking soda is an alkaline, and its function in this recipe probably is as a leavening agent.  It needs the acidity of the chocolate to react with to perform its leavening powers, and Dutch process cocoa has been modified to be less acidic (more alkaline) — so the baking soda may not work properly with it.
  • Mrs. Kitchen Riffs added step 3, which calls for simmering the raisins, and doesn’t recommend that you skip it.  Simmering plumps and softens raisins (which otherwise can be hard and dry).  It really does make a difference.  She learned this trick years ago in a cookbook (she’s forgotten which one) by the great Maida Heatter, and has used it ever since.
  • Plumping the raisins is particularly important for this cookie, which is meant to be moist.  If your raisins aren’t well hydrated when you mix them in, as they bake they may leach some moisture from the cookie dough, making the cookie texture just a bit drier than it should be.
  • Step 8 directs you to mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together.  It’s important to thoroughly and evenly distribute the baking soda throughout the flour, so take the time to do this thoroughly.
  • Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella.  If you're planning on tasting the raw dough - and who doesn't like to lick the beater? - I suggest you consider using pasteurized eggs when making cookies.  Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk?  
  • You can easily identify pasteurized eggs because they have a red “P” stamped on them.
  • Light or dark brown sugar?  The difference is dark brown has more molasses, and a deeper flavor.  Both will work in this recipe, but I tend to prefer light brown sugar.
  • These cookies are done in about 11 minutes in the Kitchen Riffs’ oven, but your results may vary.  Your oven will probably bake them a bit faster or slower.  These cookies are done when the dough is baked throughout.  The cookies should be firm on the outside, but not crisp the way a gingersnap is crisp; this is a soft cookie.
  • If you want to be absolutely sure they’re done, break a cookie in half to test whether the dough is baked all the way through.  The cook gets to eat the test pieces.
  • Recipes used to call for greasing baking sheets to prevent the cookies from sticking as they baked. Nowadays, most bakers just line their baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats (like the French-made Silpat). Easier, faster, and more effective. 
Chocolate drop cookies with chocolate square and milk

Get a Start on Baking Season

Winter baking season is coming up soon.  So you might want to get in practice by whipping up a batch (or two) of Chocolate Drop Cookies this weekend.  Your family and friends will thank you. 

Graciously accept their praise.  But silently thank my great-grandmother.  It’s her recipe.

You may also enjoy reading about:

Easy Peach Cobbler
Rich and Easy Bread Pudding
Homemade Meringues with Strawberry Sauce

29 comments:

  1. Wow! Those sound amazing. I love the old recipes: I have my grandmother's handwritten notes and they mean so much to me. I also use her tin measuring cups; it's like she's with me whenever I'm in the kitchen.

    Thank you, too, for the tips & tricks! That's a wonderful addition. (Have you ever tried dried cranberries rather than raisins? I love the chocolate + cranberry combo!)

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  2. Hi Amy, thanks! The cranberry idea is terrific - I love the combo of chocolate & cranberries. Great idea. Thanks.

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  3. Chocolate, Cranberries and milk! I would not say no to that right now! :D

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  4. Choklad Stugan, thanks so much! I could go for a cookie break right now too . . .

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  5. The cookie looks great but your photography is awesome. Truly beautiful.

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  6. Hi Abbe, thanks so much for your kind words. I really appreciate them. Thanks for taking time to comment.

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  7. I'm a chocoholic and these sound fantatic. Plus I like your tips, very thorough. I'm definitely going to make these since I've turned my entire family into chocoholics. However, I think I'll wait until Thanksgiving when our entire family will be in town. That way we can all savor them.

    I hope you will add this recipe to my Virtual Cookie Swap! If you go to this link: http://in-homeculinaryclasses.blogspot.com/2011/10/virtual-cookie-swap-giveaway.html
    and then mention your cookie (follow instructions) and provide your link to this post, it would be great. I think everyone would love to try these. I hope you'll enter them, plus I have a giveaway.

    Thanks for sharing these yummy cookies!

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  8. I must admit they are not the prettiest looking choco cookies. But based on your description, I am intrigued at how these cookies will measure in the taste (and texture) department. Well, I am a grandma-inspired little girl when it comes to kitchen and baking techniques, so I wouldn't doubt that grandmas can make the best cookies ever! I am excited to try this out!

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  9. @Vicki, glad to hear you're a chocoholic! I think you'll like these. Actually, I know you will! But give me your verdict after you make them. Thanks for the link to your Virtual Cookie Swap - I'll check that out tomorrow. Thanks for stopping by.

    @MyFudo, I'm not sure a truly beautiful chocolate drop cookie exists, but these little molten goodies have an inner beauty I think you'll find quite tasty. I hope you do try them, and let me know if they measure up. Thanks for your comment.

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  10. oh gawd.. stop... stop... these are beautiful enough for me...

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  11. Hi Jesica, thanks for the very funny comment! This is a truly great cookie and one of my all time favs. Thanks for taking time to comment.

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  12. You've completely sold me on these cookies! I love that there are nuts and raisins in them, and that you describe them as not being too heavy - I must admit that I'm not a fan of overly chocolate-y desserts but these cookie seems balanced enough for my weird tastes! And it's extra special that it is an updated recipe from your great-grandmother. Thank you so much for sharing!

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  13. Hi Katherine, glad you're sold on these! You'll like them. I think the problem with too many desserts that are overly chocolate-y is they have so much chocolate that you can't really taste it - it just a blunt object assaulting your taste buds. These cookies have plenty of chocolate, but you can really taste it - which is why I think they're the best. Let me know what your verdict is! Thanks for commenting.

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  14. Hi Russell, yum is indeed the word - these are great. Thanks for your comment.

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  15. these look amazing! wow I have to try them in my cookie baking adventures. Thanks for sharing beautiful photos

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  16. Hi Kimberly, thanks for the compliment! These are great - let me know how you like them after you make them. Thanks again.

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  17. Wow, your cookies looks tempting. I don't think I've ever tried chocolate with raisins in the cookies together. I love the idea of reviving the old recipes. Oldies are good always.

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  18. Hi beyondkimchee, thanks for your nice words. Raisins are a wonderful combination with chocolate. I agree a lot of the old recipes are truly excellent. Thanks for stopping by.

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  19. The ingredients remind me of a candy I used to buy, I think is was call "Chunky" chocolate with nuts and raisins.

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    1. Hi Anonymous, I remember "Chunky!" And some of the ingredients are the same, although of course Chunky was a candy bar. Thanks for bringing back the memory, and for the comment.

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  20. Um, seriously how did I miss these. Outstanding cookies. I love a good chocolate cookie. I am now craving chocolate cookies. Big time.

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    1. Hi Kim, I dunno, how did you? ;-) This is a great cookie - give it a try. You'll really like this one. Thanks for commenting.

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  21. This is a scrumptious chocolate cookie and I don't know how I missed it before. I am a chocoholic! The picture of the cookies, crumbled chocolate and a glass of milk makes me want to reach into the screen and have a taste!! Delicious recipe :)

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    1. Hi Judy, this really is a super cookie! You'll love it, trust me on this. Thanks for the comment.

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  22. My mother grew up in Missouri and made this chocolate drop cookie occasionally when I was a child. I always loved its moist chocolate flavor. Years ago a friend raved about a chocolate cookie a bakery here in Sacramento offered. It was a similar cookie minus the raisins. When I ate one, I thought it tasted like that cookie Mom made. Today, I dug out Mom's recipe to bake a batch for my sick friend and, curious to see if the old recipe had resurfaced, I Googled chocolate drop cookie + raisins which led me to your recipe. Perhaps it was a Midwestern favorite. I see you have tweaked it a bit and appreciate the hints as my rather basic recipe just listed ingredients, baking time, & temp.

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    1. Hi Unknown, glad I was able to help! Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Thanks for the recipe. I'm in the mood for chocolate cookies. I read an article the other day that said it's not the eggs that are the most likely source of illness in raw dough, it's the raw flour. I still eat it though lol

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    1. Hi Elizabeth, these are great cookies - I think you'll enjoy them. Interesting about the flour! It really is quite rare to get ill from raw eggs, although it does happen. I don't know how we'll handle raw flour! Thanks for the comment.

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