Choc-A-Lot Chip Cookies

Choc-A-Lot Chip Cookies

I love chocolate chip cookies.  They're the perfect combination of rich butter, caramelized sugar, tender dough, and bursts of chocolate.  But these aren't your typical chocolate chip cookies.  These are PACKED with chocolate, and their texture is soft throughout with just little crunch here and there.  These are Choc-A-Lot Chip Cookies.  Cheesy name.  Exceptional cookies.

Everyone seems to have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, whether it's yours, your grandmother's, or Toll House's, and this is mine.  But what separates this one from the masses is the amount and variety of chocolate involved.  For approximately 2 dozen cookies, I use over a pound of assorted chocolates.

A POUND?!  Yes, a pound.

The key is to vary the size and type of the chocolate you include.  By using a mix of milk, 70% dark, 85% bittersweet, and even 100% pure chocolate, the flavor is more complex.  And by incorporating both large chunks and tiny crumbs of chocolate, each bite is rich in flavor.  The small pieces allow for better distribution throughout the dough, while the chunks pack a bold punch of nuttiness.

I've also recently started adding chocolate covered cacao nibs from a locally-based chocolatier, Taza (good news, they ship!).  During a factory tour a few months ago, my husband and I were inspired to add them to our cookies.  Because the nibs are unrefined, they add a welcome bitterness and a little crunch that elevate both the cookie's flavor and texture.

I should mention that these cookies are very soft and tender.  If you prefer chewier cookies with thin, crisp edges, then this recipe is probably not for you.  But if you like the idea of adding over pound of chocolate to your dough, then let my recipe inspire you to tweak your own!

Choc-A-Lot Chip Cookies

Yields approx. 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

4 ounces (by weight) milk chocolate
4 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces 85-88% bittersweet chocolate
4 ounces 100% (unsweetened) chocolate
4 ounces chocolate covered cacao nibs (like these) (Note 1)
17 ounces all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
10 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
10 ounces light brown sugar
8 ounces granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Optional garnish: flaked sea salt

Directions

With a large serrated knife and one hand at each end of the knife (for stability), shave the milk and 70% chocolate bars into thin strips (see Note 2).  Starting at the short end of each chocolate bar, place your knife just about 1/8 of an inch or less away from the edge and slice - the chocolate will be stiff, so use firm pressure.  You should now have a small, tree bark-like shaving.  Move the knife further in and repeat.  It may take a bit of practice to get the hang of it.  Once you've cut the bars into shavings, rotate the cutting board and mince the shavings into fine crumbs.  In lieu of this method, you could grate the chocolate using a microplane instead, but I find that it starts to melt in my hand too quickly.  Shaving the chocolate into fine crumbs with a knife is tedious but less messy.

Next, coarsely chop the 85% and 100% chocolate into chunks (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide).  Set the grated chocolate, chopped chocolate, and chocolate-covered cacao nibs aside in a bowl.

Sift or whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the softened butter, brown, and granulated sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes).  Next, add the room temperature eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition to incorporate (about a minute).  Add the vanilla and repeat, then stop the mixer and scrape down the sides with a spatula to better incorporate.  With the mixer off, add half of the dry ingredients, then carefully stir on the lowest setting until almost combined.  You may need to pulse the mixer a few times before turning it completely on, or flour may end up everywhere.  Turn the mixer off, add the rest of the dry mixture and the chocolate, return to low speed, and stir until just combined.  The dough will be very stiff at this point, so you may need to finish distributing the chocolate with a wooden spoon or by hand.

Gather the dough into one mass, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes if you're in a rush.  But you should leave it in the fridge for at least 24 hours (and up to 3 days), or freeze it for a couple of months.  Leaving the dough to rest will help develop its flavor.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Tear the dough into golf ball-sized mounds.  I comfortably fit 8 cookies on each standard sized baking sheet.  Optional: sprinkle flaked sea salt on top of each cookie as desired.  Place the first prepared pan in the freezer for 5 minutes to allow the cookies to firm-up a bit (see Note 3), then bake them on the center rack for 12-14 minutes (see Note 4).  Texturally, I like the edges and the top of the cookies to have started to firm up while the centers are still very soft.  Since I don't like a crunchy cookie, I don't let them start to brown; they will end up too hard once cooled.  Pull the sheet out of the oven and allow the cookies to sit for 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a cooling rack.  Otherwise, they may fall apart when you try to move them.  

While the first baking sheet is in the oven, place the other tray in the freezer.  Then move it into the oven while the cooked cookies cool.  Keep rotating the pans into the freezer and then the oven until all of the cookies have been baked.

These cookies are best enjoyed warm, right off the cooling rack with a glass of cold milk!

Notes

  1. If you can't find chocolate-covered cacao nibs or don't want to use them, just increase the amount of each of the other chocolates by 1 ounce so that you still end up with 20 ounces.
  2. Here's a YouTube tutorial from America's Test Kitchen on how to finely chop chocolate.
  3. You want the dough to be cold when it goes into the oven.  Otherwise the butter will start to melt too quickly and spread the dough out into flat, crispy cookies instead of thick, chewy cookies.
  4. You'll want to start checking the cookies at 10 minutes, just in case.  Based on variability with oven temperatures, air flow, and cookie size, they may cook faster.  If not done after 10, keep checking them every 2 minutes.
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