Intense and irresistible
Hey, chocolate obsessives (you know who you are). Looking for your next cacao-laden fix?
Well, welcome to the deep, dark flavor of these cookies. Their richness will remind you of everything you l-o-v-e about chocolate.
Say hello to your new besties.
Recipe: Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
The “dark” in the recipe title refers to the depth of flavor these cookies have, not the amount of cacao in the chocolate used. This recipe calls for standard grocery-store semisweet chocolate, which has less cacao that some of the (almost bitter) dark chocolates out there. But feel free to experiment with a darker chocolate if you wish.
Mrs. Kitchen Riffs is the baker in our household, and she adapted this recipe from Helen Fletcher’s The Essential Death by Chocolate Cookies. If you don’t know Helen’s blog, The Ardent Cook, you really should check it out—she’s an excellent cook and a world-class baker (and has published books to prove it).
Preparation time for these cookies is about 15 minutes, baking time about 13 minutes (depending on your oven). You may need to bake multiple rounds of cookies if you can’t fit them all on your cookie sheets at once, so adjust the total time accordingly.
This recipe yields about 24 to 30 large cookies. Leftovers (if you can restrain yourself from devouring the entire batch) will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon double-acting baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt (see Notes)
- 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder (see Notes)
- 10 ounces semisweet chocolate pieces, divided (see Notes)
- ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 1 cup dark-brown sugar, firmly packed
- 2 eggs (preferably pasteurized; see Notes)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (see Notes).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, salt, and espresso powder). Set aside.
- Melt about 5 ounces of semisweet chocolate pieces with the butter (about 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave; see Notes for more on melting chocolate). Set aside to cool.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer), beat together the brown sugar and eggs. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
- Add the melted chocolate mixture to the brown sugar and eggs, and mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients and mix until well blended. Then add the chopped walnuts and the remaining semisweet chocolate pieces. Mix to combine.
- Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoons onto baking sheets, leaving at least an inch between the cookies.
- Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 13 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies feel set.
- Remove from the oven and let cookies rest for 5 to 10 minutes on the baking sheet. Then, using a large spatula, move them to a cooling rack.
- We prefer unbleached flour, and are partial to the King Arthur brand. But any decent all-purpose white flour should work fine in this recipe.
- Almost every baking powder you’ll find on your grocery shelf is “double-acting.” It’s called double-acting because you get a first reaction (the bubbles that help cause cookie dough to rise) when you mix the powder with wet ingredients, then a second reaction when the cookies hit the heat of the oven.
- Baking powder does become weaker over time (and most baking powder tins have an expiration date). So replace your baking powder when necessary. We usually replace ours once a year, when daylight saving time ends (so we remember to do it).
- It’s a good idea to shake baking powder before using it to make sure all its components are well mixed. Baking powder consists of baking soda, plus an acidic ingredient (which reacts with the baking soda to produce leavening) and a neutral substance (usually corn starch) to provide bulk.
- If you don't have Kosher salt on hand, you can use plain table salt (though I’d reduce the amount by about half since table salt is finer and more “condensed” than Kosher).
- We like the Medaglia d’Oro brand of instant espresso, but any good brand should work.
- The original recipe for these cookies called for using about ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper instead of espresso powder. This version is quite flavorful, and you might want to try it, especially if you like a little “ping” in chocolate. You could also probably use cayenne along with the espresso, but we haven’t tried that variation yet.
- We generally use about 4 ounces of semisweet baking chocolate squares (chopped into chunks), plus another 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli chips work well). But you could use all chocolate squares or all chocolate chips if you like. Just make sure to use high-quality chocolate—you’ll really taste it in these cookies.
- Why melt chocolate and butter together? Because melting chocolate by itself is dicey. If plain melted chocolate comes into contact with moisture (sometimes even steam), it can “seize”—instantly morphing into a block of grainy brown concrete. Melting with butter prevents this.
- If you melt chocolate on top of the stove, use low heat and watch carefully to make sure it doesn’t scorch.
- You can substitute light-brown sugar in this recipe, but I think dark brown yields the best flavor.
- Eggs carry a slight (but real) risk of salmonella. So I suggest using pasteurized eggs for cookies. Although it’s unlikely that the eggs you buy will be infected, why take the risk? Especially since most of us can’t make cookies without tasting the raw dough.
- You can identify pasteurized eggs because they usually have a red “P” stamped on them.
- You should use high quality (pure) vanilla extract in this recipe. Its flavor is so much better than the imitation kind.
- Pure vanilla extract is made by soaking vanilla beans in a mixture of water and alcohol for several months. BTW, the FDA requires that pure vanilla extract contain at least 35% alcohol. If the label doesn’t say “pure,” that means it’s made from synthetic vanilla. The artificial kind is usually derived from the sapwood of several species of conifers—or from coal extracts! How appetizing (not).
- The flavor of some imitation vanillas can be nasty. You don’t have to spend a fortune on pure vanilla extract, but getting decent quality does mean spending a bit more for something that’s not loaded with sugar or imitation flavoring. Do yourself a favor and get the real stuff.
- We’ve used all sorts of baking sheets for making cookies over the years, including expensive insulated sheets. Nowadays, we just use 11 x 17-inch half-sheet (jelly roll) pans with 1-inch sides, and line them with parchment paper. (They’re called half-sheet pans because they’re half the size of the full sheets that large commercial ovens can accommodate). Half-sheet pans provide ample surface space and the sides keep the cookies from slipping off. We can’t say we’ve noticed much difference in quality. Although some of the fancier sheets theoretically make for better results, none of them are likely to perform as advertised in the typical home oven, where baking conditions are sub-optimum at best. (The temperature of our home oven tends to be off by 25 degrees or more, for instance.) So we just go with what’s easiest to use—and quickest to clean up.
- We’ve made these cookies both small (teaspoons of dough) and large (heaping tablespoons). We like the large version better.
“These are outrageously good,” I said, reaching for another cookie. “I love the espresso—it adds nice depth to the chocolate.”
“I made the same recipe a couple weeks ago with cayenne,” said Mrs K R. “Remember? Those were wonderful too.”
“How could I forget?” I asked, taking yet another cookie. “I think I polished off most of that batch by myself.”
“Looks like you’re doing a pretty good job on this round too,” she observed.
“Well, you have to admit they’re hard to resist,” I said.
“I guess Marx was right about history repeating itself,” said Mrs K R. “In this case, first as the tragedy of a bursting belt buckle, then as the farce of a groaning bathroom scale.”
Wish she wouldn’t read so much.
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