In my early twenties, when I had only the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with my life, I found myself living in France getting a Master's in International Business. The first day of class I showed up with a bag full of almond croissants I had happily purchased from the corner boulangerie while the rest of my classmates (and I mean EVERY.LAST.ONE.OF.THEM.) had shown up with a Financial Times tucked under their arms. It became clear right then and there that maybe business school was not the best path for me to take. Pastries were my thing, you see, not accounting principles. I simply did not know it yet. The following months were hard, but I learned a lot. Notably, if you want your finance teacher to like you, know the exchange rate and not how many euros a pain au chocolat costs (clearly the finance teacher and I did not see eye to eye).
In the really hard times that year, I was homesick and longed for a familiar taste of home. What I wanted more than anything was a humble, but nonetheless delicious chocolate cookie. So, one day during Statistics, I daydreamed of how I'd walk out of class and head straight to one of the many patisseries on my way home to buy said comfort food. Never fear, I told myself. I live in France, land of delectable sweets. I would surely find that taste of home soon if only le prof could just speed up his ever so boring PowerPoint presentation.
Boy, was I wrong. Not one of the multiple patisseries I stopped at that night had what I was looking for. Cookies in the traditional American sense were just not a thing in France at that time, at least not where I lived. If I wanted fancy macarons or traditional sablés, they had those in spades, but if I wanted something reminiscent of Tollhouse I was going to need a plane ticket to get it.
More than a decade later, I present you with the most delicious, bittersweet, slightly salty cookie that I was longing for all those years ago. Now that I have perfected the recipe myself, perhaps I should move back to France and open up shop, marketing to all those jeunes filles out there who just want a taste of home.
This recipe makes a ton of cookies so it is great for gift giving, especially at Valentine's Day. To make the cookies festive, carefully top with Valentine's sprinkles halfway through baking.
French lesson du jour
Boulangerie - bakery
Pain au chocolat - chocolate croissant
Patisseries - bakeries specializing in pastries/sweets
Le prof - teacher, professor
Sablés - buttery, sandy cookies similar to shortbread
Jeunes filles - young girls
Note: The dough freezes beautifully. Roll the dough into balls and freeze on a cookie sheet for 30 minutes, then pop into an airtight bag for storage. Bake at 350 degrees straight from the freezer.
Dark Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa
2 1/2 teaspoons soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
10 oz dark chocolate chips*
2 1/2 sticks butter, room temp
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
*I use Ghirardelli bittersweet chips or Nestle dark chocolate morsels.
In a medium bowl whisk together flour, cocoa, soda and salt. Set aside.
Gently heat dark chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave in 20 second intervals until just melted or heat chocolate until melted in a pot on the stove using low heat. Set aside.
Using a stand or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together about 90 seconds until fluffy. Scrape the bowl, pour in the melted chocolate and then mix on low speed about 60 seconds. Next, with the mixer running on low add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. Turn the speed up a notch and combine for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl again, turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate, peanut butter and white chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and refrigerate the dough about 10-15 minutes so it isn't too sticky to work with. Once slightly chilled, use a spoon to drop balls (1-2 tablespoons in size) of dough several inches apart on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then allow to cool on the cookie sheet.
Voila! Enjoy the best chocolate cookies ever.