Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt

It’s my birthday this week, so cookies are back. It’s my party and I’ll gorge myself on browned butter if I want to.

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt // The Dinner BellIt’s probably a symptom of having older siblings, but it’s hard to forget how old twenties always used to sound to me, how much I thought I’d have sorted by now. But then, I thought that at 18 and 21 too, so I suspect my heart and my brain will forever be playing catch up to the passing of timing and the aging of this bundle of cells. I also suspect we all feel the same way.

But these cookies are probably one of the most grown up things I’ve achieved so far. They’re dark and toffee-y and use fancy salt — when did I become a person who gets excited by fancy salt? — in ways that take them a million miles from Maryland’s excuse for cookies.

The making of them completely feels like magic — the process of browning the butter, then whisking it with sugar and leaving it for a bit means that you start out with a gritty mix but end up with a gorgeously thick, glossy mixture. And then! And then you add the flour and the chocolate and it becomes the most gorgeously rich, nutty cookie dough imaginable.

It’s not a cookie to hand out to children — it’s one to be served warm, and savoured, the crisp outside giving way to a soft chewy inside, studded with dark chocolate brought to life by smoked sea salt. It’s an indulgence that, dipped into coffee, makes grey Monday mornings at your office job a lot brighter. It’s most certainly a cookie for grown ups.

Dark chocolate chip cookies with smoked sea salt

Notes

  • Allow the baking tray to cool between batches. Using a hot tray will melt the dough prematurely and give you overbaked edges. Ew.
  • Don’t be tempted to make smaller cookies. Using the right amount is important to ensure you get the crunchy edges and chewy middle.
  • Like all cookies, they’re best served warm. If preparing ahead of time, pop them into a warm oven for about 4 minutes before serving just to get that gooey, melty centre again (or microwave for around 20 seconds).

Adapted from the Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book

Yields 14-16 large cookies

Ingredients

250g plain flour
1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
1tsp smoked sea salt
200g butter
150g dark brown sugar (light brown will also work, if you don’t have dark)
100g granulated sugar
1tsp table salt
1tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg + 1 yolk
200g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Smoked sea salt, to sprinkle (You can buy smoked Maldon in Whole Foods and online. Really, it’s worth it)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Whisk together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, and sea salt, and set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in a large pan  over medium heat, swirling continuously until it takes on a darker colour and nutty aroma (1 to 3 minutes). Transfer to a large heatproof bowl and add the sugars, salt, and vanilla extract, followed by the eggs.
  3. Whisk until smooth — about 30 seconds — and then leave well alone for 3 minutes. Send a text to a missed friend and accidentally get caught up sending messages whizzing through the air. Whisk again. Wait again, maybe dance to the songs you loved when you were 14. Whisk again. Wait and dance again. The mixture will be thick and shiny — the sugar has dissolved and it’ll give you a super caramel-y cookie. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour mixture until just combined, then add the chocolate chunks.
  4. Using about 2 tablespoons of the dough for each cookie, roll into balls and place on the baking tray, about 2 inches apart (you’ll have to do them in batches, baking one tray at a time. See notes). Bake for 10-13 minutes, until the edges have firmed up but the centres are still somewhat soft — they’re done when pressing the centre lightly leaves a slight indentation — and rotating the tray halfway through the ensure an even bake. Transfer, still on the parchment, to a wire rack immediately to cool, and sprinkle with a touch more smoked sea salt, crushing it with your fingers slightly to break it into smaller pieces.
The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I’m that person who doesn’t let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door.

I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

Filed under All Recipes, Biscuits & Cookies, Desserts

The lady behind The Dinner Bell! I'm that person who doesn't let you leave their flat without eating something, and will probably press a parcel of cookies or cake into your hands as you head to the door. I’m a sub-editor by day, avid book-reader by night, and octopus fan always. I live in north London, but little bits of my heart still belong to Norfolk, where I grew up, and Sheffield, where I went to uni and finally lost my bumpkin accent.

12 Comments

  1. Recently I’ve been seeing salted everything and often it just doesn’t work – salted chocolate orange-just no but cookies with salt yes, yes, yes. These look amazing, my morning coffee seems so unappealing now as I don’t have a lovely soft cookie to go with it!

    • Hannah Jade

      Oh I know what you mean! Such an easy trend to get wrong, but straight up salty + sweet will always work, right?

  2. These look like some seriously delicious cookies. Salt I’m totally on board with but I’ve never tried it smoked in cookies…sounds amazing!

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  4. You’re absolutely right- these would certainly put a very cheery, happy spin on a Monday morning coffee at the start of another long week at work. I haven’t made cookies for ages- they are now TOTALLY top of the to-bake list!

  5. oops added 2 eggs rather than another yolk! Are the cookies ruined?

  6. Looks delicious! Do you think adding melted dark chocolate to the butter mix before adding the flour would be fine? I just love my cookies with double dark chocolate!

    • Hannah Jade

      Hi Meera! You’d probably be better off subbing some of the flour out for cocoa powder to get that double chocolate hit, to about 190g plain flour, 60g cocoa. Adding more actual chocolate would make them more like puddles of chocolate with the odd chunk of cookie dough!

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