Five years ago, we hosted our ten full-time staff members for a weekend retreat in the country, and I was in charge of the cooking. We were hungry worker bees, stretching our brains all day, decoding the secrets of site design, traffic analytics and reader satisfaction. Tried as I did to push the healthy snacks on my co-workers, it was a plate of dark chocolate walnut cookies that won for best snack.
Digging back into the archives, I found the post about these cookies with some broken code and one of the worst food photographs I ever made, so I decided to resurrect the piece for you this week, because five years on, these are still one of my favorite tea-time snacks.
I want to impress upon you what a difference it makes to use high-quality cocoa, bittersweet chocolate chips or pieces, and fresh nuts in this recipe. Ingredient quality and freshness always make a difference, but in this case, with such intense flavors, it is even more so. Always give walnuts a sniff before using them; they can go rancid quickly if not stored properly, even in the grocery store.
The tiny sprinkle of salt on top of the cookies before they bake is the crowning jewel, the pop of flavor that ties it all together. Besides, aren't you eating salt on all your desserts these days?
Dark Chocolate Walnut Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cups cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces good-quality bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate morsels or chopped chocolate pieces
3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat oven to 375°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a cookie sheets with a piece of parchment, or a baking mat.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a mixing bowl.
In a stand mixer or with a hand-held electric mixer on medium speed (or by hand) beat together the butter, brown sugar and vanilla until fluffy and uniform in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until combined. Reduce the speed to low and add the dry mixture, mixing until just combined. Add the chocolate and walnut pieces and stir to combine.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough on the baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches of space in between. Sprinkle a small pinch of salt on top of each cookie.
Bake until puffed, but still soft and slightly shiny in the middle, about 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a cooking rack. Serve warm, or store at room temperature for up to three days in a airtight container.
(Image credits: Sara Kate Gillingham)