I really don’t like making cookies. Often they take just as much prep and cleaning up as more elaborate desserts, but they’re not nearly as impressive. Most cookie recipes are all executed the same way: cream your butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla and mix, add dry ingredients, then fold in whatever add-ins you choose. Scoop, bake, and boom! You have cookies. Cookies are boring.
That being said, there are some days that I’m just in the mood for a cookie or two. While in Orlando, I developed quite a repertoire of cookies to make for friends, coworkers, or just because I was celebrating a good day or craving some chocolate to pick up my mood after a bad one. With the limited counter space in my tiny apartment, cookies were a perfect project to take up a few hours after early morning shifts.
On this particular day, I was thrilled to be home by three o’clock after getting off at 2. I don’t drive and it’s not easy for me to walk a mile to the bus stop, so I relied on the Orlando Para transit company, Access Lynx. What a horrible idea. In theory, the door-to-door service was nice, but getting picked up at 4:30 in the morning to make it to work by eight was anything but. It was also not uncommon to be picked up two or three hours after I got off work. So being able to enjoy the rest of the day was rare, and I was ready to get some baking in. I wanted something more than the average chocolate chip cookie, though. I wanted dark chocolate. And something warm and gooey. And so, these triple chocolate espresso cookies were born.
Not a fan of coffee? I’m not either, but this slight coffee flavor from espresso powder only serves to bring out the deeper chocolate flavors. You can certainly omit it, but the cookies just won’t taste the same.
I’m not an expert baker just yet, but a year of pastry school and working in a bakery has taught me a few things. First, measure out all of your ingredients before you do anything else (I can still hear my first Chef every time I bake – “mise en place!!”). It may seem like a pain, but it actually saves quite a bit of time because once you start your recipe, you have everything you need. It’s also a good idea so your butter has time to soften (you’ll want it very, very soft for this recipe; to the point that you can’t pick a piece up with your fingers. The colder the butter in this recipe, the stiffer the dough and the harder it is to work with). Let the eggs warm to room temp as well – this will keep your dough from curdling and your cookies will stay nice and smooth.
Second, the brand of cocoa powder IS important. If you’re just making these for fun and/or you don’t want to spend more money than you have to, whatever grocery store brand you like will work. If you’d like high-quality, bakery-like cookies, then you need to use high-quality ingredients to get them. I use Cocoa Barry Dutch-process cocoa powder, which produces a deep, rich flavor and very dark baked goods. It’s a few dollars more expensive, but I’ll never use anything else.
Once you have all your ingredients measured out and ready to go (recipe follows), combine the cocoa powder with the flour in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large mixer bowl, combine the brown sugar, baking powder, salt, espresso powder, and butter and cream until very light. Mixing times will always vary, but in my stand mixer I usually cream anywhere from 2-5 minutes.
Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.
Slowly stir in the flour and cocoa powder. The dough will begin to stiffen up and it’s okay to mix on a higher speed if needed, but don’t do this for an extended amount of time. Nobody likes tough cookies!
Now comes the fun part: add your chocolate chips! My recipe calls for the usual two cups of semisweet chips, but where’s the fun in that? Pump up the flavor a little bit with a darker chocolate – I used one cup of 60% bittersweet chocolate along with semisweet (usually 45-50% cocoa) chunks. Use whatever you like. I’m sure white chocolate would also go well in this recipe, if you’re a fan of it. Me, not so much. Be aware of how much you add, though – if you exceed 2 1/2 cups of chips or nuts, the dough won’t hold together very well. You can either slowly mix in the chips with your mixer (don’t mix for more than 8-10 seconds) or fold them in.
Next, scoop them out onto a parchment-lined or greased cookie sheet. I used to use a big spoon to do this and round them out with my hands, but if you can spring for the extra eight bucks or so, go get yourself a cookie scoop. It’s a lifesaver. These cookies won’t spread much, so an inch apart is fine. If you like your cookies a bit flatter, you can flatten them slightly with your palm before baking. If you’re using a convection oven (the kind with a fan in the back), these won’t take long to bake at all. I always turn my tray halfway through baking, so these typically take 4-5 minutes per side (8-10 minutes total) to bake. If you’re not using convection, just up the baking time by a minute or two.
These cookies are super rich, which makes them perfect for sharing with friends or coworkers. I’ll warn you though that if you do share them, you’ll probably wind up making them more often than you think! My fellow cast members gobbled these up and always asked for more. Whether you choose to share or keep them all to yourself, enjoy!
TRIPLE CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO COOKIES
Makes about 30 cookies
- 1 3/4 cups AP flour
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 3/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. espresso powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups chocolate chips (milk, dark, bittersweet, white, all of the above, etc.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour and cocoa powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a mixer bowl, combine butter, sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. Cream until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and vanilla, beat until combined.
Add the flour/cocoa mixture to the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix the dough.
Fold in chocolate chips. Using a large table spoon or cookie scoop, scoop cookies onto a cookie sheet.
Bake 8-12 minutes, until cookies are just set in the middle.