Persnickety (but good) chewy chocolate cookies

We’ve talked about Cooks Illustrated before and about how great their recipes are.  And they are great.  Spot on.  Always turn out.

However, after having collected the magazine for years, I can say with confidence that Cooks Illustrated could make pouring a glass of lemonade sound complicated.  And I understand this, because as I’ve openly admitted, I’m the same way.  I like to do things right and sometimes this requires multiple steps.   However, complicated seems too derogatory a term for dear, bow tie wearing Christopher Kimball.  So, I like to think of him and his operation as persnikety.

Case in point, this cookie recipe.  I couldn’t resist taking it for a spin precisely because of how exacting the instructions were.

Dark corn syrup (not light) is whisked together with egg white (no yolk.  Really…no yolk–this helps keep the cookie chewy) and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, flour, leavening agents and good cocoa powder also get a good whisk.

In yet a third bowl, either fitted into a standing mixer or with electric beaters, butter, dark (not golden mind you) brown sugar and granulated sugar are creamed.  Then the corn syrup mixture is blended in followed by the dry ingredients.  And then the whole lot gets chilled in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Nore more.  No less (otherwise you’ll turn into a gremlin if you eat the resulting cookies.  It’s true).

Once the half-an-hour is up, the dough gets parceled out into 16 equal portions (the scale was my little add-on).

Then each ball is rolled in sugar and  plopped onto a couple of parchment-lined baking sheets.  It’s okay, I’m thinking of Pete’s Schweedy balls right now too.

A few minutes in the oven with a little dosado halfway through and you’ve got yourself some pretty fine chocolate cookies.

These went as the Normal Cookies’ dates to a party for a friend who does majorly cool research on Alzheimer’s disease and just got a tenure track position at a majorly awesome institution.  At the party I learned about The Bad Project.  Ah, nerd humor.  My people.

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Cook’s Illustrated, January 1, 2009

ever so slighted adapted


  • 1/3 C sugar granulated sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces), plus 1/2 cup for coating
  • 1 1/2 C unbleached all-purpose flour (7 1/2 ounces)
  • 3/4 C Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 C dark corn syrup
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 TBS (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 C packed dark brown sugar (about 2 1/2 ounces, see note)
  • 4ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped into 1/2-inch pieces


  1. Adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place ½ cup granulated sugar in shallow baking dish or pie plate.
  2. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
  3. Whisk corn syrup, egg white, and vanilla together in small bowl.
  4. In stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter, brown sugar, and remaining 1/3 cup granulated sugar at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low, add corn syrup mixture, and beat until fully incorporated, about 20 seconds, scraping bowl once with rubber spatula. With mixer running at low speed, add flour mixture and chopped chocolate; mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping bowl once. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no pockets of flour remain at bottom.
  5. Chill dough 30 minutes to firm slightly (do not chill longer than 30 minutes).
  6. Divide dough into 16 equal portions; roll between hands into balls about 11/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, drop 8 dough balls into baking dish with sugar and toss to coat. Set dough balls on prepared baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart; repeat with second batch of 8. Bake, reversing position of the baking sheets halfway through baking (from top to bottom and front to back), until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 10 to 11 minutes. Do not overbake.
  7. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes, then use wide metal spatula to transfer cookies to wire rack (just to be a rebel, I used a silicon spatula and not only did it work just fine, I did not turn into a gremlin); cool cookies to room temperature.

3 thoughts on “Persnickety (but good) chewy chocolate cookies”

  1. You are torturing me with these today. I don’t think I have ever had cookies turn out this perfect. It must be because I never follow the instructions and I always put wet in with dry (I am too focused on trying to avoid washing more bowls than I need to). As an experiment I might try to make these with two bowls AND a wide metal spatula.

  2. Julia–These would be fun to make with kids…with our without the metal spatula.

  3. After perusing a few soft cookie recipes, I’m beginning to think the secret to soft is corn syrup. And yet it’s supposedly in the Axis of Evil — those dietitians obviously don’t have any cookie cravings.

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