Rich chocolate cookies aren’t for everyone, but if you love brownies chock-full of bittersweet chocolate like I do, you will love these cookies too. I used to think these cookies would be a favorite for anyone, but when I was first getting to know Jonji’s family I made them for his brother Pat and his fiancé Taz one night. I had decided to surprise them with the flavor choice, and Pat was excited to try what I’d made. When I was almost done making the dough, he proclaimed he’d be happy as long as they weren’t chocolate cookies (what are the odds!). As I am already a sensitive baker and was also trying to make a good impression, I got really quiet and started to tear up. Pat felt terrible, I got a group hug, and we all got a good laugh (and delicious cookies) out of it. I’m pretty sure he actually did like the cookies, after all.
Speaking of bittersweet, our sweet old cat Kitty passed away peacefully in her sleep this weekend. Jonji found her Sunday morning in her cozy bed, all curled up, looking totally content. It was definitely her time to go—she was extremely frail, couldn’t walk so well anymore, and was essentially blind and deaf—but it was still so hard to say goodbye.
We adopted Kitty in LA eight and a half years ago. I found her bio on a local animal shelter’s website; they said she was four years old, mellow, and she had the most beautiful coloring on her face. I went to see her at the adoption pop-up one weekend soon after we’d moved, and found her dozing off in one of the wire cages, looking a little defeated next to the kittens attracting so much attention from families stopping by. My heart broke a little for her, and for all the adult cats getting passed up for their younger, more energetic brethren—there was no doubt in my mind that I would leave without her. I brought her home that very day, and she soon blossomed as she realized she finally had a home and a family to love her. She loved light reflections, lasers, chasing bugs. She mostly meowed silently until she found her voice just a few years ago. She loved lap time, her sonorous purr loud enough to hear across a room, and forehead strokes. She did not love the sister we adopted for her two years later—Babs was the alpha, and always made sure Kitty knew it—but they finally made their peace once we drove them all the way to Palo Alto to our new home in 2018.
In her later years Kitty would rub her one remaining fang on my head to wake me up in the morning, meow loudly and incessantly to get food (and sometimes wake up her new human sister), make a strange caw-cawing noise at birds outside the window, and sleep for hours in the sun. She tested our patience, but we loved her. She never tired of lap time; she simply loved love. As hard as it is to say goodbye to Kitty, I wouldn’t trade the time we had with her for anything. Death serves to remind us to take advantage of the time we do have, to prioritize our loved ones, to celebrate life with good company and good food.
I made these cookies recently for my cousin’s blessingway (it’s a ceremony based on a Native American tradition meant to honor a soon-to-be-mother—my mom has thrown many for women in her life. Did I mention I was from Santa Cruz?) and they were an absolute smash hit. It was quite a warm day, and as the cookies sat on the table in the blazing sun the chocolate melted as if they had just come out of the oven, but the rest of the cookie wasn’t so hot it would take the roof of your mouth off as it would if it really had just come out of the oven. My cousin repeatedly said, “But they taste just like brownies! They’re crispy but they’re also soft!” She was correct; you get the delicate crunch of the edges that make way for that soft and slightly chewy middle, with big chunks of dark chocolate ratcheting up the decadence level. Make these for guests, for the in-laws you’re trying to impress, or, as always, simply for yourself.
Triple Chocolate Cookies
makes about 8 large cookies | adapted from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery book
190g (1 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp) all-purpose flour
48g (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
100g (scant 1/2 cup) brown sugar
90g (1/3 cup) sugar
12g (2 tsp) molasses
167g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
65g eggs, whisked lightly (if you can’t weigh, use 1 large egg, 2 medium eggs, or 1 large egg + 1 yolk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
100g bittersweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
*The butter really does need to be soft. If it’s not softening fast enough, place the butter in a bowl and set over a medium flame on the stove for one minute. Remove from the heat and stir until the melted butter is incorporated. Repeat as needed until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise.
Place the 190g flour a small bowl and sift in 48g of cocoa powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda. Add the 1 tsp salt and whisk to combine, then set aside.
In another small bowl, stir the 100g brown sugar and 90g sugar together. Pour in the 12g molasses and stir to combine as best you can (there will be some clumping—you just don’t want huge lumps).
Place the soft 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add 65g whisked eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix on medium-low speed until just combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Mix to combine, then add the rest of the flour and beat just until the flour is almost completely incorporated. Pour in the chocolate chunks and chips and beat for a couple of seconds, until roughly combined.
Cover the bowl of dough and refrigerate while you turn on the oven. (These cookies actually taste best when they’ve rested for 30 minutes in the fridge, then formed into balls using a large ice cream scoop. You can also freeze the rest of the dough balls, then bake a few the next day and they’ll be just as tasty.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Using a large, 2-inch ice cream scoop (mine has a scant 1/4 cup capacity), portion the dough into balls. If you’re baking immediately, space the dough balls a couple of inches apart on a lined baking sheet or two. If you’re baking later, portion the dough into balls on a lined baking tray (they can be close together), freeze the balls on the tray for about an hour, then place them in a plastic bag and keep in the freezer until ready to bake.
Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, or 16-18 minutes from frozen. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through if you’re using multiple sheets. When they’re done, the edges of the cookies will be a little firm but the middles will still feel soft. Bang the cookie sheets on the counter a couple of times when you bring them out of the oven to spread the cookies a bit, then immediately sprinkle with flaky sea salt. These cookies are actually best enjoyed once they’ve fully cooled, about an hour—for the ultimate experience leave them in the sun for 20 minutes or so for the chocolate to melt. Enjoy!