Once in a while, life throws you something quite unbelievably amazing. It happens on a random unassuming Tuesday, lingers till Friday, when you just relent. Because, how can I not?!
In other words, this is the untold story of my tryst with my new go-to cookie. And it’s not just any cookie; make way for salted chocolate chunk cookies. And no, it’s not just any chocolate “chip” cookie with a dusting of sea salt; it has blogging blue-blood history, and lineage. And the best part – the first time I tried my go-to no-egg adaptation (1 tbs cornflour + 1 tbs water), it worked so god dam beautifully, not one blessed cookie came apart or crumbled undesirably.
This little piece of heaven is studded with perfect sized chocolate chunks, hand cut from a variety of Valrhona slabs (ranging in the 64-66% cocoa range) I had lying at home. To be precise, the recipe called for 225gm and each slab I had was 70gm each (with a few rectangles missing from each), so I added in a 41g slab of single origin chocolate (44% Vanuatu) from a Bombay based chocolaterie called the Vivanda Chocolate Co, which if you must know, I got introduced to by the Gourmet Box.
I earlier contemplated (and began) a series called the Locavore Diaries, because I genuinely am impressed by the caliber of some of the city (and country’s) food and beverage companies. While I mixed in the Vivanda chocolate with a staggeringly overwhelming amount of Valrhona, in this instance it was almost impossible to gauge the independent quality and characteristics of the local chocolate, but I would be quite interested in giving it a chance.
I wavered, as usual.
Getting back to it. People over the years have said ‘This desert is too sweet’. To me, that used to sound a bit incredulous, because, desert is meant to be sweet. If you wanted a savoury desert- order a cheese plate, not a slice of pie. Duh.
But then again, I was like 11. [Nope, now I am most sadly not 11 anymore, nor the double of 11. Sigh.] I began to appreciate subtle flavours, subtle undertones and balance. And that is exactly what salt provides – balance. Sugar, butter and flour are always the base ingredients, and then you can work in chocolate, citrus, or whatever it is you’re inventing. But always a teaspoon of salt, rounds off the desert most beautifully, also letting you have just a little more, because you’re not left with that ghastly ‘too-sweet’ taste in your mouth. Quite aptly, the inspiration and blue-blood lineage of this recipe comes from Not Without Salt.
It is also super quick – and I got to use up a little of my raw sugar as well! The use of different sugars (regular granulated, raw and demerara) gives the cookie a great unparalleled sweetness and depth, and the centres of the cookie are bursting with chocolate chunks (so much more robust than chips!) and just enough cookie dough to told the chocolate together in one perfect dome of happiness.
What also made me especially happy is that in Bombay I don’t tend to find good quality chocolate chips easily. And never any local options, so it becomes rather annoying to have to stock up whenever I travel, or buy expensive (but mediocre quality) varieties here. So this concept of cutting down my desired slab of chocolate into chunks, was shockingly simple and easy – which is never earlier imagined could be so! Well, this one is definitely a keeper. And the demand for these stud muffins will never cease, I can quite forsee.
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature [I used Parsi Dairy’s White Butter which comes in 150gm boxes]
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar (Conscious Foods sells packaged raw sugar; you can use more brown or white if you don’t have this, but the subtle crunch it adds is delightful)
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light or dark brown sugar (I used BlueBird’s Demerara sugar)
- 1 tablespoon cornflour mixed with 1 tablespoon water, as an egg replacement (or1 large egg)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I am currently obsessed with Sprig’s Bourbon Vanilla, which is incredibly dark and full of vanilla beans)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 225 grams semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
- Flaky sea salt, to finish (I use Maldon)
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line 2-3 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat.
- In the bowl of the stand mixer (or a large bowl, if using a handheld mizer) cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the cornflour slurry and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the table salt and baking soda until combined, then the flour on a low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point, but don't worry. With a spatula, fold in the chocolate chunks (and any chocolate crumbs that may be on the chopping board, no point wasting good chocolate!).
- Scoop cookies into 1 1/2 tablespoon mounds, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack.
- I baked 2 sheets of 12 each, and froze the balance 6. To freeze, form into scoops and freeze on a sheet until solid.
- Time to transfer to the cooking rack, because the 5 minutes is just what the cookie needs to continue baking while on the sheet, but the transfer is what eventually allows the cookie to come together nice and almost crisp on the outside, yet perfectly molten and chewy inside.