Rarely do I find a recipe that inspires me to make up a new word to describe it, but this one did: I have coined “chocolatiest” as the best way to describe these amazing cookies. Chocoholics take note: these cookies are the most decadent, chocolatiest treat you will likely ever taste. And for those of you like me, who like chocolate but most days could give or take it (or maybe I’m just weird that way), you will love these too.
In my mind, the “Midnight” part of the name is open to interpretation: it likely refers to the black-as-midnight color of the cookies (the original recipe calls for black cocoa, which would make them even darker). In my house, however, it means that we lie in bed at night thinking about these cookies, counting the hours until we can have more the next day, and then realize that no one is going to get any sleep unless we have just one more cookie. Eventually we give in to the overpowering craving, get up, and have one (okay, two) as a midnight snack.
Whether you love your cookies soft and chewy or light and crisp, this recipe works both ways: just modify the baking time a bit. In addition to being a great dessert (or midnight snack) on their own, these cookies pair fabulously with most varietals of red wine.
Midnight (Triple Chocolate) Cookies
½ C + 3 T unsalted butter, softened but cool (1 stick plus 3 T)
1/3 C granulated sugar
2/3 C brown sugar
2 t vanilla extract
1 1/3 C all-purpose flour
1/3 C Dutch processed (or other high fat cocoa) cocoa powder*
½ t baking soda
2 T raw cacao nibs (look for these at health foods stores, co-ops, Trader Joe’s, etc.)
4 oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa), ground in a food processor
3 T heavy cream
For baking: ½ C or so turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) or other coarse sugar
* The original recipe calls for black cocoa, but that can be difficult to find, so I use and recommend Dutch processed cocoa or any other high-fat cocoa. However, any unsweetened cocoa powder could be used.
Mix the dough
In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until very smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Add the remaining dry ingredients and mix just until they are incorporated: do not over mix. Add the cream and mix just until the dough begins to stick a little and come together. Again, do not over mix the dough.
Divide the dough in half and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic wrap over the dough and roll into a log, about 2” wide. Wrap the ends and refrigerate until cold: at least an hour, or even for several days, if baking later.
Bake the cookies
Preheat oven to 325 F, adjust oven rack to the middle position, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Place some turbinado sugar in a one-gallon freezer bag. Place one log of chilled dough in the bag, rolling and pressing the sugar onto the dough. On a cutting board, cut the dough into slices about ½” thick, and place them a couple inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. The cookies will spread, so leave adequate space between them. Place the cookie sheet in the oven until the cookies appear dry at the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes. For a chewier cookie, check them after 12 minutes; for a crisper cookie, give them closer to 15 minutes.
The original recipe came from another food blog, and its author generously allowed me to share it.
Step by Step Details
Before you begin, make sure you have everything on hand. You will probably have to do some shopping, but the good news is that once you’ve made these cookies for the first time, you’ll have these “specialty” ingredients on hand for the next batch.
What you might need to buy: 1) Turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw or another coarse sugar), 2) high quality cocoa powder (I love Penzey’s, and have used both of these high fat, unsweetened varieties), 3) cacao nibs (I found these at my health food store, and assume any co-op or upscale grocery store would have them. I think Trader Joe’s even carries them, but haven’t looked there myself), 4) a bar of dark chocolate (70% cacao is best, but if you can only find 60%, that will work fine. Don’t go much higher than 80%, though.) Make sure the bar is 4 ounces, as some bars are only 3.5 ounces. You’ll want a few extra bars on hand anyway, for your next batch.
Not familiar with cacao nibs? Neither was I, but now that I’ve used them in these cookies, I would never make them without the nibs. They add an extra depth and richness that enhances the chocolate flavor, and give the cookies extra crunch as well. (Don’t eat them raw, as they are NOT chocolate chips.) They look like this, and if you want, you can add those to the grinder when you grind the dark chocolate.
Grind the dark chocolate in a food processor. It helps to chill it slightly beforehand and break it apart, but break it into smaller pieces than shown here.
The first time I made these cookies, this size pieces of chocolate worked just fine, but the second time, they got stuck on the blade and burned out the motor on my little food processor. There’s nothing worse than spending a cozy night at home baking chocolate cookies and then having to make an emergency shopping trip for a new appliance!
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cacao nibs and ground-up dark chocolate. I do this to get everything blended together before adding it later, so the dough won’t get over mixed.
Now it’s time to start the dough. Make sure the butter is soft, but not too warm. In a large bowl, beat the butter and both sugars until very smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla, beat well, and add the dry ingredients you whisked together earlier.
Mix just until the dry ingredients are incorporated: do not over mix. The mixture will be rather dry and crumbly. Then pour in the cream.
Mix the dough just until it begins to stick a little and come together. Again, do not over mix. It will still be a little crumbly, but with larger and moister crumbles than before.
Divide the dough in half and place each half on a large piece of plastic wrap. Wrap the plastic over the dough to cover it.
Roll the dough, still in the plastic, into a log about 2” wide. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Don’t worry if your halves aren’t exactly half: mine obviously weren’t.
Wrap the ends and refrigerate until cold, at least an hour. You can even keep it in the refrigerator it for several days, if baking the cookies later. In addition to doing magical things to make the cookies turn out a lot better, chilling the dough keeps it from sticking to the plastic when it comes time to peel it off.
When it’s time to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 325 F, adjust oven rack to the middle position, and line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Don’t worry if the paper curls up: the weight of the cookies will keep it flat. You can also roll it the opposite way to take some of the curl out, or crinkle it up and spread it out.
Put some turbinado sugar in a one-gallon freezer bag. Place one log of the chilled dough in the bag, rolling and pressing the sugar onto the dough.
If you weren’t very careful measuring exactly half of the dough, the log might be too big to fit in the bag. If that happens, just break the log in half. No big deal.
Put the sugar-coated dough on a cutting board and slice it into pieces about ½” thick.
Put the slices a couple inches apart on the lined cookie sheets. The cookies will spread, so leave adequate space between them.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven until the cookies appear dry at the edges, 12 to 15 minutes. For a chewier cookie, check them after 12 minutes; for a crisper cookie, give them closer to 15 minutes.