I’m going to go ahead and stick my neck out here: Best Chocolate-on-Chocolate Cookie Ever. Can’t decide between making brownies or cookies? These little mounds of crackled-outside, fudgy-inside heaven are the answer to your indecisive sweet tooth’s prayers. Or, at least, they fulfill mine.
I’ve had at least a small obsession with most baked goods since childhood when my mom first introduced me to the magical and tasty chemistry lab that is baking. From the time I was barely able to reach the kitchen countertop, we were making cookies for parties, brownies for weekend treats, cheesecakes to top with strawberries freshly picked from a patch near my Grandma’s house, and toffee and fudge for the holiday season. She taught me the importance of paying attention and measuring with precision in baking – and especially in candy making – from her I learned that sharing your truly scrumptious baked goods could light up others’ faces with immeasurable joy. And while valuable and memorable, those were not the most useful baked goods-related lessons I learned from her.
The most important thing she probably never knew she taught me is related to the baking maxim: if you leave them out, they will be eaten. From her, I learned what I shall dub the “nip and tuck” method of sneakily snacking on baked goods – brownies especially. Basically, the nip and tuck is exactly what it sounds like: nipping off a loose piece here and there. See, we used to cut our brownies right from the pan, but those cut lines would always be a tad uneven or a piece of the remaining in-pan brownie would crumble off after we had removed a piece for dessert. So once midnight munchies time rolled around, you could carefully remove and nibble on the crumb, or, for the bolder snackers, you could slice a quarter-inch sliver off the in-pan brownie’s edge and get a larger piece with virtually no risk of anyone noticing what was missing (especially if the original slice was a little crooked – you were just evening out the line!).
With these brownie cookies, however, you need not take the risk of cutting too large a sliver or snatching up a seemingly loose crumb that ended up hauling some of its crumb buddies along for the ride. They’re independent little cookies – and small enough that nobody will notice when one or two three or four go missing, unless, of course, they’re the last few left in the batch, which is why I recommend doubling up on that cookie dough.
This cookie brings all the pleasure of biting into a powdered sugary, lightly crispy cookie crust (but without a snooze-worthy blah-and-dry center) and then ushers in all the satisfaction of a melty, chewy brownie center (without the risk of getting caught munching). So make them, and share them, and enjoy them, please. But do not leave them out overnight, or they will be gone.
Chocolate Brownie Cookies (adapted from The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern by Claudia Fleming)
Makes 4 dozen cute, little, crackly-crusted, fudgy-centered cookies
Ms. Fleming did not cover her cookies in a light powdered sugar coating, but I like to. The rest of the cookie is made with for-reals chocolate, so it isn’t too sweet to begin with. And I think the light sugar dusting makes the cookies prettier (and cozier, to me, because I grew up helping my mom make a similar cookie during the holidays and she always had me roll them in powdered sugar – that’s the fun part for kids, especially when you get to lick your fingers afterward). The powdered sugar also adds a very soft sweetness before you dive into the seriously chocolatey NOM-NOM-NOM-iness of the rest of the brownie cookie.
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 Tbsp. freshly brewed espresso
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 oz. extra-bittersweet chocolate (70-75% cacao), chopped
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate (100% cacao), chopped
3/4 c. bittersweet chocolate (or chocolate chips), chopped
1/2 c. confectioners (powdered) sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpat baking mats.
In a large bowl (or the bowl of an electric stand mixer), briefly whip the eggs just to break up the yolks, and then add the sugar, espresso, and vanilla. On high speed, beat mixture until thick, approximately 15 to 17 minutes.
Meanwhile, place butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl suspended over a pot of lightly simmering (i.e., not boiling) water, and scatter the extra-bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate on top. Heat just until the butter melts and chocolate is about 1/2 to 3/4 melted. (Alternatively, in a microwave-safe bowl, you can zap the butter and chocolate in the microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and then zap once or twice more for 30-second increments, stirring each time, until butter is melted and chocolate is 3/4 melted.) Remove the boiler top (or bowl) from over the water (or microwave). Stir the chocolate and butter until smooth.
Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined, leaving some streaks in the batter.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Then carefully fold the flour mixture into the batter. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. If the batter is too wet to handle at this point, pop it in the refrigerator for 5 minutes (but not much longer, or it can get a tad too dry and crusty).
One by one, drop heaping teaspoonfuls of batter into a shallow bowl containing the powdered sugar, and roll dough ball around to cover with sugar. Then place sugar-covered dough onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least a 1/2-inch between each ball.
Bake cookies until puffed and cracked, 8 to 9 minutes. (NB: Do NOT over-bake, or you will forfeit the decadence of the brownie-esqe center that really makes these cookies amazing.) Before removing cookies from the baking sheets, allow to cool on a wire rack.