I first had these cookies a few weeks back, when I met my cousin Pete for lunch. He had just baked a batch and when we sat down at Out the Door, he presented me with a lovely little bag of them. Even amidst the restaurant's strong and heady aromas of lemongrass, chili, fish sauce, and five spice, I could smell those cookies in all of their chocolatey goodness. Throughout lunch, it was all I could do to keep from diving into that bag.
Once I got home, I went for it. You know, nobody is around during the day. Being alone for large chunks of your life can lead to bad habits, like, um, standing silently in the kitchen, zoning out, and eating a stack of cookies?
These are even better than these chocolate chocolate chip cookies which I also think are great. The new ones, though insanely chocolately, are a little bit less sweet. Plus, I think melted chocolate adds a dimension you just can't get with cocoa powder. The final result is somewhere between a cookie and a brownie, with that perfect cracked top and velvety interior.
I emailed my cousin immediately for the recipe, which he promptly sent. He also told me about his edits to the recipe, which I agreed off the bat were smart. For one, he ditched the milk chocolate chips for semi-sweet. Then, he added walnuts to the batter. Normally, I'm on the fence about nuts in cookies, and truth be told, I never would have thought to do that. But the walnuts added the perfect crunch and ever so slight bitterness, a nice foil to a rich cookie. So, that's how I made them yesterday.
I drummed up the excuse of making them for my friend Deborah, who is literally about to have a kid any day now. The husband and I had planned to visit Deborah and her husband Richard in their new house last night. I figured an edible housewarming gift is always welcome (who needs another vase from Crate and Barrel?), and pregnant or no, people like cookies.
These people did like these cookies, as did the husband, who enjoyed two back to back in the car on the way over. He had just gotten off the train and was ravenously hungry. When I'm really hungry, I don't tend to want sweets--my taste runs to the savory. But at the end of the work day, the husband has a powerful sweet tooth. (Had we been at home, he would have washed the cookies down with a Sierra Nevada--a version of another sweet-and-boozy combination he swears by: Reese's peanut butter cups and Guinness.)
Anyway, I digress. Here's the deal. These cookies are ridiculous--ridiculously good. And even more ridiculous is the fact that you're supposed to make them into ice cream sandwiches and then roll them in candied almonds or coconut. That's for the next round.
Here's a link to the original recipe, but I've also included the recipe with the variations Pete made below. Mine baked for 15 minutes, and, like Pete, I baked one sheet at a time in the center of the oven, and mid-way through, took them out, banged the sheet on the counter, and rotated it when I returned it to the oven. Although they seem silly, I think all of these steps do make a difference--banging the sheet removes any air bubbles, ensuring a dense, chewy result, and placing the cookies in the middle of the oven and rotating them leads to even baking.
One final note: it is important to follow the step of removing the cookies from the sheet when they are done to a rack but leaving them on the parchment. With my final four cookies (a tiny third batch), I had run out of racks and so removed the cookies on parchment to a cooled baking sheet. When cooled, they had hardened quite considerably, whereas all the other ones remained soft and perfect.
Pete's Triple Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Heat butter and semisweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water until melted.
Beat sugar, eggs, vanilla, and melted-chocolate mixture with a mixer on medium speed until combined. Reduce speed to low, and gradually beat in flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake, rotating and tapping sheets on counter halfway through, until cookies are flat and surfaces begin to crack, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer cookies on parchment to a wire rack, and let cool.