Sometimes insomnia can be a blessing. Once one has learned to stop fighting it and to embrace it instead as an opportunity to get some work done, the possibilities are endless. It usually hits at a quiet time, so if thinking is necessary, it can actually be accomplished. Stuff like housework, which is never at the top of my favorites list, can be done without having to encroach upon valuable daylight hours.
It’s probably not the best way to deal with the problem, but it works for me. In between the house work and random insomnia projects, I’ll also think about new material or revisit recipes I haven’t used in ages. This time around, I took a look at my favorite old recipe binder – my former cooking bible, that old ClearVue binder filled with the tried & true recipes I felt comfortable serving to other people before I got off my butt and started this blog. From stuff I’d printed off the internet to old family recipes, this used to be “it” for me. And it still is, in a way.
The following recipe caught my eye because it was one I’d clearly jotted in such haste, it was almost illegible. I don’t recall exactly where it came from, but I remember there was a period of time when they were my signature cookies. If there was a potluck, these were the cookies everyone begged for; and if I needed an easy Christmas gift, a stack of these in a cute container never failed to please.
I’m not sure when or why I stopped making them, but after making a batch this weekend in order to heat up this freezing apartment, I won’t be making that mistake again anytime soon. I call these the greatest chocolate cookies ever for a reason: because they are, and any card-carrying chocoholic should make these at least a couple times a year as a reminder.
To keep costs down on this recipe, try to stay within the modest range when it comes to the chocolate. While the decadent quality of these cookies skyrockets as the quality of the chocolate increases, I usually make these a number of times using regular old Nestlé Toll House morsels. For this batch I finally broke into my Scharffen-Berger stash from this year’s BlogHer Food conference, and let me tell you, the experience is so rich, so downright sinful, there are probably laws being broken as we speak.
But even without the frou-frou chocolate, there’s enough of the good stuff in here to satisfy even the most picky dessert lover. I’ve even used a mix of leftover Halloween chocolate in a moment of sheer desperation. The end result is always the same: rich, chewy, chocolaty goodness. If you absolutely must have the fancy chocolate like Scharffen-Berger or Valrhona (and Christmastime is a good reason to splurge if you can afford to do so), try to look for store specials and coupons, whether they’re the printed kind or social media specials.
‘Tis the season to be baking and these will make perfect Secret Santa gifts or stocking stuffers. When you’re working with a super tiny budget, holiday gift-giving time can seem more daunting than it already is, so to reduce some of that stress, try making some homemade goodies for your loved ones. Most folks are just as happy – if not more so – with a gift that comes from the heart, rather than some store-bought nonsense.
Just don’t say I didn’t warn you when you find yourself covered in chocolaty batter. These are just impossible to resist!
The Greatest Chocolate Chunk Cookies on Earth (makes 2.5 dozen; total cost per dozen: $2.75)
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, cut into chunks
½ stick (4 T) butter
2/3 c flour
¼ t baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
¼ t cayenne pepper
2 large eggs
¾ c brown sugar (firmly packed)
1 t vanilla extract
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate morselsDirections
1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. Combine the flour, baking powder & salt in a bowl. Mix well & set aside.
2. In a small saucepan, combine the first 8 oz. of chocolate with the butter and cayenne. Melt slowly over low heat, stirring occasionally until smooth. Do not overcook.
3. Combine the eggs, brown sugar & vanilla in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer (or a whisk) until light & fluffy. Slowly mix in the melted chocolate. Then, working in small batches, fold in the flour gently, until the mixture thickens to a thick, batter-like consistency. Lastly, mix in the chocolate chips until completely incorporated into the batter.
4. Using a teaspoon, drop spoonfuls of batter onto the prepared cookie sheet (make sure they’re a couple inches apart). Bake until glossy & crackly on top and soft in the center, about 10-12 minutes (do not over bake!).
5. Cool on a rack for 5-10 minutes, serve with a tall glass of ice cold milk, and enjoy!