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Jeruba's avatar

Chocolate cookie recipes needed: not "the best" but "good"--and trusted!

Asked by Jeruba (51640points) December 20th, 2008

I’m an experienced cookie baker but have never made chocolate cookies. I would like to make some for Christmas. I am not interested in trying a fancy, elaborate recipe for “the best ever.” Instead I’d like to see your tried-and-true recipe for chocolate cookies that might not astonish the Queen of Belgium but are excellent and dependable nonetheless.

Chocolate, not chocolate chip.

I’ve seen the offerings here (general request for recipes) and asked about a specific process here. Now I’m just requesting suggestions for recipes you actually use for some kind of chocolaty chocolate cookie. I care much less about their looks than about the content of their character.

Thank you.

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10 Answers

bythebay's avatar

Jeruba: I’m not a big baker myself, but I have made these and they are delicious.

Korova Cookies

adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Paris Sweets

makes about 36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder (do not use natural; I find the taste too light. I prefer Scharffen Berger or Valrhona)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 stick plus 3 tablespoons butter, room temperature

2/3 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into little bits (I will admit I have used Nestle Toll House Mini Morsels before because they are nearly the perfect size; very tiny for this cookie is best. However, Greenspan does recommend chopping up your favorite chocolate for best results. If you see the mini morsels in the store, check them out for their size!)

Sift the flour, cocoa, and baking soda together in a bowl. Beat the butter in a mixer until it is soft and creamy. Add in the sugars, salt, and vanilla extract and beat for a few more minutes to combine. Add in the flour and combine on low speed just until the flour is combined. This is probably the trickiest part because the texture of the cookie depends on as little mixing as possible. The dough will be very crumbly; resist the urge to keep mixing until it all comes together because then the cookies will be too tough when baked. Add in the chocolate bits and mix just to distribute them.

If you have a scale, the easiest thing to do next is to divide the dough in half by weighing. If you don’t, just turn the dough out onto a flat surface, press together into a ball and roughly divide in two. With each half, press the dough together gently and form into a log about 1 1/2-in in diameter. In the past, for fear of overworking the dough, I would simply form rough cylinders, wrap in plastic, and chill. The cookies would not be perfect rounds but they tasted good! (There is actually opportunity to reshape the cookies when you’re getting ready to bake them). Now, I use the trick of rolling the dough into a log on a piece of parchment paper, folding the parchment in half over the log, and using a ruler to compact the log and smooth out its shape. Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for at least an hour; the logs will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator or you can freeze them for a month.

When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats. Take out the logs and let them sit for a little while to soften up, otherwise I find they shatter into pieces when I slice them. Greenspan does not seem to be bothered by this and suggests you can just press the pieces back together. I have done this before and it does not appear to affect the result.

Slice the logs into rounds about 1/2-in thick; I prefer a little thinner. Place the cookies on the sheets with about an inch between them. Bake them one sheet at a time in the oven for 12 minutes. They will not look done but that’s ok – again, overbaking will give them a crispy texture instead. Let them cool on wire racks until just warm.

Kay's avatar

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Makes 16 cookies. Published January 1, 2009. From Cook’s Illustrated.

We recommend using the test kitchen’s favorite baking chocolate, Callebaut Intense Dark L-60–40NV, but any high-quality dark, bittersweet, or semisweet chocolate will work. Light brown sugar can be substituted for the dark, as can light corn syrup for the dark, but with some sacrifice in flavor. A spring-loaded ice cream scoop (size #30) can be used to portion the dough.
Ingredients
1/3 cup granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for coating
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt plus 1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup dark corn syrup (see note)
1 large egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter , softened (70 degrees)
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces, see note)
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (see note)
Instructions

1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18— by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Place ½ cup granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl. Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in small bowl.

2. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl once with rubber spatula. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom. Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly
(do not chill longer than 30 minutes).

3. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; roll between hands into balls about 11/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, drop 8 dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coat. Set dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart; repeat with second batch of 8. Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 11 minutes. Do not overbake.

4. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack; cool cookies to room temperature.

susanc's avatar

Chocolate Walnut Wafers (quick and easy, but excellent, from the old Fannie Farmer Cookbook) – about 50

2 oz unsweetened chocolate
1/4 lb butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cut chopped walnuts
2/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 and grease some cookie sheets. Melt the chocolate. Cream the butter and gradually beat in the sugar and eggs. Add the chocolate and walnuts and combine thoroughly. Mix together the flour and salt and add to the first mixture, along with the vanilla. Mix well. Drop by teaspoonsful and bake for 10–12 minutes or until firm but chewy. Underbaking is better than overbaking.

To make Mexican Chocolate Walnut Wafers, add a jolt of cinnamon. Fabulous.

Jeruba's avatar

Thank you, thank you! I am chewing over these wonderful suggestions and weighing them against my level of ambition. Maybe I’ll make some New Year’s cookies instead.

bythebay's avatar

Jeruba: When you do get around to baking will you share?

Jeruba's avatar

@bythebay, yes, of course. I did bake cinnamon sugar cookies yesterday, and I don’t think there’s going to be time for much more of that before Christmas.

I am struggling with calibrating a new oven, which at this point has damaged my long-held reputation for cookie perfection, so I am feeling a little daunted. I’m worried about baking something else that’s already brown when it goes in because you can’t rely on color to show doneness.

bythebay's avatar

Those frustrations are part of the reason I cook, and do not bake. Precision is not my forte’. On a brighter note, you do get to eat the rejects! Best of luck.

susanc's avatar

Re: “eating the rejects”: part of the Process.
And there is always (for intuition-based baking) the Principle of the First Pancake to take into account. You know: the first pancake out of the pan isn’t perfect because you aren’t attuned yet to the precise temp of the pan, the precise liquidity of the batter, and so on. And it applies to other things. It applies to many first loves, and to many first pregnancies, for example. People feel awful about these losses but I believe they are how we get going. Trial runs. Life is full of em. Let em go. Move on. We can stand some false starts. Make another run on it.. these are not “failures”.
I have no idea why I thought this philosophizing was called for. Snowed in. Bored.

Jeruba's avatar

@Susanc, I have found that there’s hardly anything you can’t philosophize about. (There most be something, but I can’t think of it.) Considering how much fun philosophizing is, why resist? Cookies seem like a natural. So does First Pancake. I was the First Pancake in my family and went through some depressed years wondering why they didn’t throw me away, but I grew out of that and found other things to brood about.

Jeruba's avatar

Oven/cookie update: We finally figured out that the oven is baking at 25 degrees cooler than the set temperature. No wonder I was having trouble! Imagine having your cookies come out too dry and yet still doughy in the middle. The whole pumpkin pie – turkey – veg. casserole – dinner rolls thing two days ago was a real challenge in winging it.

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