These bakery style chocolate chip cookies are oversized, slightly crispy on the edges, soft and chewy throughout, chock full of chopped chocolate and topped with flaky sea salt. They are SO good and are modeled after a bakery/cafe not too far from us that is housed in an old barn built in the 1800's.
The bakery style chocolate chip cookies at the barn are often served warm from the oven, and whenever I eat them, I think that these are not so much cookies, but rather vehicles for eating chocolate. When biting into one you see more chocolate than you see cookie dough, and that’s what I wanted out of my cookie. I have been getting chocolate chip cookies at this bakery for several years now, and I’ve also been trying to replicate these cookies for several years. There have been a number of times that I’ve wondered what the secret was, but never had the guts to lean over the counter and ask.
This building also sells Heirloom seeds. We go here every spring to buy seeds for our garden. They have the best cherry tomato seeds. I love coming here for both breakfast and lunch, which can be eaten in any of a number of open spaces among stacked shelves of garden seeds, cozy lofts in the barn, or if warm enough out on the patio. In addition to fantastic cookies, they make the best Cuban sandwich and butter laden biscuits. Yum - I am getting hungry. I have such good memories associated with this place.
But back to the cookies... after many, many failed attempts I have figured out that there are three secrets to bakery style chocolate chip cookies.
- Use chopped chocolate from baking bars rather than chocolate chips. This was one of the first things I observed about my favorite bakery cookies. They always had thin slivers of chocolate, and never chocolate chips. At first, I didn’t think that this mattered much, and I’m generally not a fan of extra work. Why spend the time chopping chocolate if you can just use chocolate chips. Well – in this case after lots of trial and error, I discovered that it does actually make a difference if you’re going for bakery style cookies. Using chopped chocolate helps the cookie dough meld and stick together and shape around the shards of chocolate in a way that it does not with the chocolate chips. This affects how the cookie rises and how gooey it gets.
- Refrigerate the dough overnight. It is common to see this recommendation with drop cookie recipes. I generally don’t do this if it can be avoided. I try to minimize the extra work and effort in baking/cooking wherever possible, and most of the time I find that it doesn’t make enough of a difference. Refrigerating, however, does a few things like changing the hydration of the component parts, which impacts texture and taste. It also helps all of the flavors in the dough meld together. It’s like a lasagna that tastes better the next day. Because you’re using chopped chocolate, rather than chocolate chips, the chocolate also melds better with the other ingredients.
- Use a quarter cup of dough per cookie. Bakery style chocolate chip cookies are over-sized. I’ve found that the best proportion is ¼ cup of dough per cookie. This is a TON of dough, and it will make a huge cookie. I’ve tried on occasion doing ½ cup of dough per cookie, and while that might be a reasonable amount if you own a bakery, it can be a bit unwieldy at home. Using ¼ cup is more manageable than ½ cup, and way better than the 1-2 tablespoons that is typical for a drop cookie.
Mixing by hand (optional): When making drop cookies, I usually mix all of the ingredients by hand. There are a few reasons for this. The first was that I suspected it prevented you from over mixing the dough. This isn’t necessarily true as I discovered when conducting a chocolate chip cookie experiment (check out the link for the details), but mixing by hand is still a sort of control that limits the air that is beat into the dough. The second is that I find mixing by hand keeps me more present in the moment. It’s a little more meditative for me and a little more hands on. It also means there’s one fewer thing to wash. Stand mixers can be quite heavy and take up room. We don’t own one, and so far, I don’t think I’m missing out (I’m sure I’ll be tempted to buy one at some point though).
To make this dough I combine the wet ingredients with a large spoon. Then I just dump all the dry ingredients in and stir to combine. I don’t bother mixing the dry ingredients separately. Most recipes will call for this, and it is technically a better way to do it, but I don’t like taking out more bowls that need washing, and I find that it doesn’t make enough of a difference.
Shaping the cookies: Once the wet and dry ingredients are just combined, I add the chopped chocolate, and stir until just incorporated. Then I’ll scoop out a quarter cup of dough, shape into a ball and slightly flatten it between the palms of my hands. Then I’ll stack them, placing wax paper in between each one on a plate, cover in plastic wrap and stick in the fridge overnight. They look like little burger sliders.
Baking: The next day, I’ll remove the cookie dough rounds from the fridge and allow them to warm up, somewhere between 10-20 minutes. They should not get soft or melty, but they should loose their chill, otherwise they'll be undercooked in the middle. Then bake them for 12 minutes and immediately top with sea salt flakes. If you add the salt before baking there’s much less surface area to work with on each of the cookies. Once they are out of the oven they have spread out and you can cover more of the cookies with the sea salt flakes. You need to add the salt right away after coming out of the oven so that they stick to the still warm cookies.
- I use 8oz Ghirardelli Premium Baking 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate bars, roughly chopped. This makes for an extra chocolatey cookie.
- It’s important to use chopped chocolate, rather than chocolate chips. It changes the texture and flavor of the cookie.
- It’s also important to use high quality chocolate such as Ghirardelli or Guittard. When making regular drop cookie style chocolate chip cookies I’ll use Nestle, but for this cookie I’ll use a higher quality chocolate.
- Refrigerating overnight helps the flavors meld together, and changes the hydration of the ingredients which impacts texture and taste.
- Add the sea salt immediately after removing from the oven.
- Maldon Sea Salt is expensive, but lasts a long time (a little goes a long way) and is definitely worth it.
- These cookies require more advanced planning and a little more work than other drop cookies because they're refrigerated overnight and take a little time to portion and shape. However, it’s not a ton more work and its definitely worth it if you’re looking for an extra special treat. One plus about refrigerating overnight is that if you have young kids or a busy schedule you can put the dough together at the end of the night and stick it in the fridge. Then it’s very little work the next day – you just pop them in the oven and you’re done!
Bakery Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 cup brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 8oz high quality bittersweet chocolate bars, Ghirardelli or Guittard, roughly chopped
- Maldon sea salt flakes
- In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Then add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Lastly add the roughly chopped chocolate, until just combined.
- Using a ¼ cup measuring cup, portion out the dough and form into balls with your hands. Then slightly flatten each ball so that it resembles a burger slider. Stack the cookie dough rounds by placing a sheet of wax paper in between each one to prevent them from sticking. Refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and let sit out for about 20-30 minutes to warm up (not too long so that they become soft, just until they lose their chill and are more or less room temperature - this depends on how cold your fridge is and how cold your house is). Bake for 12 minutes.
- Immediately sprinkle with Maldon sea salt flakes.