I have, for forever and a day, looked for a chocolate cookie I could crown with what I considered the highest honor one could bestow on it, declaring it the browniest cookie. I just didn’t expect it to take me so long to find what I was looking for. Along the way, I met cookies that suggest brownies; ones that are weakly chocolaty, better emulating mediocre brownies; those that promise soft but deliver chewy; and even versions that are a great chocolate cookie, but have little to do with the glorious puddles of square-baked halfway-between-cookie-and-cake batter I love to the point of distraction.
To me, the browniest cookie would be everything that we expect from a great brownie — a slight crackly exterior, a plush, fudgy interior — but formatted as a cookie with a piled height that doesn’t spread too flat in the oven. To bite into it, there would be no question as to what it aspired to be. The most ridiculous part of this story is that after trying dozens of iterations of so-called brownie cookies over the years, I found the perfect one in my favorite brownie recipe, i.e. it was here, all along.
Like the brownie recipe, it begins with unsweetened chocolate and butter melted together. You whisk in sugar, here, more brown than white for a softer final texture, then two eggs, vanilla and salt. Because it’s a cookie, we then add some baking soda (great brownies don’t need this). Then, because a cookie needs more structure than a pan-shaped brownie, we use over double the amount of flour, but we swap one-third of it with dark cocoa powder. And then, just to gild the lily, we also add some bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks.
Just like my favorite brownie recipe, you can make the whole thing in one bowl and stir it by hand. You can also go from melted butter to cookie in your mouth in under an hour (this needs a little pause in the fridge for best scooping texture), which means the only thing keeping you from a big plate of these in your life is your distance from the kitchen right now. How fast can we address that?
MORE COOKIES: Stuck at work, dreaming of cookies? Here, let me be no help at all: The Cookie Index (sadly, not an economic measurement, but obviously, it would be off the charts) is a visual tour of just about every cookie in the SK archives, all Deb-tested, recipient-approved, gift-ready. The hardest part is deciding where to start. [The Cookie Index on smittenkitchen.com]
One year ago: Endives with Oranges and Almonds
Two years ago: Eggnog Florentines and Linzer Torte
Three years ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Four years ago: Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce
Five years ago: Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Six years ago: Creamed Mushrooms on Chive-Butter Toast
Seven years ago: Feta Salsa, Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting and Zuni Cafe’s Roast Chicken and Bread Salad
Eight years ago: Espresso-Chocolate Shortbread Cookies and Peanut Butter Cookies
Nine years ago: German Pancakes or Dutch Babies and Winter Panzanella
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie
1.5 Years Ago: Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake
2.5 Years Ago: Bowties with Sugar Snaps, Lemon and Ricotta
3.5 Years Ago: Chocolate Swirl Buns
4.5 Years Ago: Dobos Torte
The Browniest Cookies
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter
4 ounces (115 grams) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup (190 grams) dark or light brown sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1/2 cup (45 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder, any kind will work
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (115 grams) chocolate chips or bitter- or semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks
Melt butter and unsweetened chocolate together — you can do this on the stove over very low heat, stirring constantly, in a double-boiler or in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring between each — and taking the chocolate out when it’s almost, but not fully, melted. Off the heat, stir until it is.
Whisk sugars into melted butter and chocolate, then eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Whisk in baking soda and salt. If your cocoa powder is lumpy, sift it right onto the surface of the batter, other wise, just add it to the bowl. Add flour, too, and then stir until just combined. Add chips or chocolate chunks and stir until combined.
Place bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and up to a few days. Shorter than 30 minutes, you can bake it right away but they keep better shape once chilled and are easier to scoop. Longer than 30 minutes, they become difficult to scoop, but you can let them warm up slightly before you do.
Heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
Scoop into about 1 1/2- to 2-tablespoon sized mounds and space evenly on parchment- or nonstick baking mat-lined baking sheets, allowing room for them to spread a little. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, at which point they will still definitely look underbaked, but you should take them out if a fudgy-centered cookie is your goal. (Of course it is!) Let set on baking sheets for a few minutes before carefully transferring to a rack to cool the rest of the way before eating. Ha ha, just kidding. You can eat one right away, but you’ll probably want a glass of milk nearby.
Do ahead: The cookie dough keeps in the fridge for up to a week and longer in the freezer. If you’d like to turn these into a slice-and-bake cookie, after 20 to 30 minutes in the fridge, scrape dough onto a sheet of parchment or waxed paper and form into a 1 1/2- to 2-inch thick log. Wrap in plastic and freeze until needed. Be sure to cut them on the thick side before baking, so your cookie isn’t too flat.