Fun fact: I got married at a BJ's Restaurant. During a six-month period when I lived in a Southern California suburb surrounded by giant, generic chain restaurants like Applebee's and Outback Steakhouse, my future husband and I developed an unexpected affection for the doughy deep-dish pizzas and hot-pink strawberry lemonades at the local BJ's. Not to mention the Pizookie, a cookie baked in a small cake pan, served hot and gooey with ice cream scooped on top. The Pizookie had a lot to do with it, come to think of it.
When we had to get married on paper several months before our actual wedding for health insurance reasons — ah, America — I can't remember which of us first suggested BJ's, but we were both immediately on board. For one thing, the idea of making a legally-binding commitment to each other at a restaurant that had trademarked the name Fanburgers™ and had a section of the menu devoted to "Giant Stuffed Potatoes" was hilarious. Also: we could eat Pizookies!
So we organized an outing with our friend who had gotten ordained over the internet — or as he preferred to be called, Minister Nick — and two other friends as witnesses. After pizzas and salad, we filled out some paperwork, we all signed our names, and just like that, we were married. It was wholly unromantic, which was just fine because our very romantic actual wedding was several months away. And anyway, it was time for Pizookies.
Combine the pleasure of a warm-from-the-oven cookie with the butterscotch goodness of soft cookie dough and you have a deep-dish chocolate chip cookie. When I serve them at parties, I like to make the dessert completely over-the-top by baking the dough in a big baking dish, piling some ice cream in the middle, and passing out spoons for communal pigging out. It usually gets really quiet from the moment I put it down on the table until the last bits of melted chocolate are scraped from the edge of the pan.
But individual cookies are a little more refined and also make it easier to make a batch of dough, portion it out and freeze it for later gatherings. Made as written, one cookie is a very generous and dangerously easy to eat portion for one, or a just-right dessert for two people after a big meal. With or without Fanburgers™ and Giant Stuffed Potatoes.
Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 6 cookies, serves 6-12
1 cup all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar 1/3 cup granulated sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 large egg 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or 6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped) Vanilla ice cream (optional, for serving)
Equipment: 6 small oven-safe ramekins (I use 6-ounce oval ramekins)
Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.
In a stand mixer or in a large bowl with a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy and pale-colored, about 2 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and egg, and beat for 1 minute. Add half the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until dry ingredients are fully incorporated. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture. Using a wooden spoon, mix chocolate chips into batter.
Divide batter evenly between six ramekins. (To make this easier, you can use a small cookie scoop to measure about 4 rounded tablespoons of batter per ramekin.) Use a spatula or back of a spoon to push batter to the edges of the ramekins and smooth down evenly. Place ramekins on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden-brown on the edges and still a little golden and soft in the middle. Remove from oven and let cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, with or without a scoop of ice cream on top. (Ramekins will still be quite warm; serve on a folded napkin or plate to protect your table, or let cool for about 10 minutes, until just slightly warm, before serving.)
If you like a slightly salty edge to your cookie, sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel evenly over cookies before baking.
The ramekins of unbaked cookie dough can be covered and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead, or frozen for up to 3 months. You do not need to thaw before baking, but you may need to add an extra minute or two to the baking time.
For a more over-the-top party dessert, bake batter in a 9-inch square baking dish instead of ramekins and pass around spoons to your guests, so everyone can dig into the communal dessert.