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.
|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.
- 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
|Preparing Cookies for the Oven|
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- 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.
- 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.
- Chop nuts.
- 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.
- Add chopped nuts and drained raisins. Mix.
- Add cooled chocolate, and mix again.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Cool, then gobble them up.
- 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.
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.
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