This is a double chocolate cookie for a loved one. It has a rich deep chocolate flavour that is complemented by a crispy edge and chewy center, and a sprinkle of sea salt on top.
Jonathan – this one is for you! You’ve asked for the perfect double chocolate cookie so many times. Not a melty one, not a rich buttery one. Definitely not one that has a crunch, like short bread. Not a decadent one, or a lava cookie with hot fudge inside. You also don’t want a thin delicate one. Or one that is too dark. You want a good hearty double chocolate cookie, one that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, with a balanced sweetness and a deep rich flavour. After about a year of tweaking this recipe, here it is, my love. Happy Valentine’s Day!
It really was a joint effort how we got to this recipe. We’ve eaten so many double chocolate cookies in the past year. We’ve washed up so many bowls and pans that were used to make double chocolate cookies. We’ve gone through about 4 tins of cocoa, and uncountable bags of chocolate chips. You even had to bring the chocolate chips I used today all the way from New York!
Really, you’ve made me a better baker just by pushing me to get to this double chocolate cookie recipe. There were a lot of lessons learned along the way. Here’s just a few of them, and how they affected this recipe.
Flour: To get the hearty chewy texture for the cookies, I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. Bread flour has a higher protein count (about 14%, as compared to about 11% in all-purpose flour), and the additional protein in the flour means more production of gluten. Gluten is what gives the cookie a firmer structure and chewiness.
Browned Butter: Most straightforward, browning butter gives the cookies a nutty aroma, a richer toasted flavour. But more importantly, brown butter adds moister to the dough. This affects the cookies in two ways. First, the moisture helps the gluten develop in the flour, which makes the cookie chewier. When flour is combined with water, the wheat proteins begin to change shape. The individual protein molecules in the flour link up with one another to form strands of gluten. These strands of gluten stretch and extend, and support the other starch granules in the flour and the gas bubbles that form during the reactions. This causes the chewiness in the cookies.
Second, by melting the butter, there is more liquid and moisture in the batter, which causes the sugar to dissolve quicker. Dissolved sugar caramelizes at a lower temperature, and gives the cookies a richer flavour. In addition, when the caramelized sugar cools, it forms a brittle texture, giving the cookies crispy edges and cracked tops. Because moisture is retained in the middle of the cookies, the cookies will have a chewy center.
Dark Brown Sugar: I chose to use dark brown sugar in this recipe because it has a rich dark flavour that complements the chocolate. Light brown sugar and dark brown sugar are generally interchangeable, but light brown sugar only has about 3.5% molasses, while dark brown sugar has about 6.5% molasses. Again, this adds moisture to the cookie, which affects the gluten development and the caramelization of the white sugar.
Cocoa Powder: As compared to unsweetened chocolate or bittersweet chocolate, cocoa powder has the highest amount of cocoa solids per gram. Cocoa power is about 80% cocoa solids, as compared to only 21% cocoa solids in bittersweet chocolate. This means that gram for gram, you need less cocoa powder to get the same amount of chocolate flavour. And by using chocolate powder, you aren’t adding in unnecessary fats and sugars to the recipe that will throw off the ratio established by the other ingredients.
Letting the Cookie Dough Rest: The reason I let the cookie dough rest overnight in the fridge (or at least 3 hours), is to give the ingredients a chance to “get to know each other.” The dry ingredients soak up some of the moisture. The gluten also gets a chance to develop more fully, resulting in chewier cookies. Also, starting with cold dough when baking helps the cookie retain a thicker shape, since the dough does not spread so quickly at the onset.
Making the Cookie Large: Besides the joy of biting into a large cookie, the reason to make cookies large(r) is to get more of the chewier center. I used at least 3 tablespoons of dough for each cookie, as compared to the more common 2 tablespoons of dough.
A lot of the techniques I learned came from Cook’s Illustrated, The Science of Good Cooking (thanks to my in-laws for giving it to me as a Christmas gift!). It’s a really comprehensive book that I would recommend. My recipe for double chocolate cookies is loosely based on the Cook’s Illustrated recipe for the Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I’ve made several tweaks to it, most obviously, changing it to a double chocolate cookie recipe!
Double Chocolate Cookies with Sea Salt Recipe
makes about 16 large cookies
– 1 1/2 c strong white bread flour
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– 1/2 c cocoa powder
– 200g (14tbs) unsalted butter
– 3/4 c dark brown sugar
– 1/2 c granulated sugar
– 1 tsp salt
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
– 2 c semisweet chocolate chips
– Sea salt
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda together. Set aside.
Add 150g (about 10 tbs) of butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Melt and cook the butter, constantly swirling the pan, until the butter is a golden brown. It will take about 5 minutes.
Transfer the browned butter into a medium bowl. Add in the remaining butter and stir until it is completely melted.
Add in the brown sugar, white sugar, salt and vanilla, and whisk until it is fully incorporated.
Add in the egg and egg yolk, and whisk until it is fully incorporated.
Let the mixture rest for 2-3 minutes, then whisk it for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of letting the batter rest, then whisking for 30 seconds, about 3 times. By the end of the process, the batter will be thick and shiny.
Stir in the flour mixture until it is just combined.
Add in the chocolate chips.
Place the dough in the refrigerator overnight (or at least 3 hours).
When you are ready to bake the double chocolate cookies, preheat the oven to 190c (375f).
Take the cookie dough out of the refrigerator and let it rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Working with about 3 tbs of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls. Slightly flatten each ball so they are cylinders, each about 2cm tall.
Bake the cookies 1 sheet at a time, in the middle of the oven, for about 12-14 minutes each. Take the cookies out of the oven when the edges look like they have set, and there are cracks on top of the cookies. Immediately sprinkle sea salt on top of the cookies. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack.
Enjoy with a glass of milk!