When I was in high school I was on the swim team, and I participated in the drama club. I enjoyed acting far more than swimming, so I eventually concentrated my efforts on the artistic. I got my first real taste of competition there. Auditioning for roles was no comparison to attempting to swim faster than the kid in the next lane. Even though I didn’t always get the role I auditioned for, I wasn’t magically transformed into a competitive person. I was usually just happy to be performing. My life continued in this noncompetitive way for quite some time.
Then I met a really obnoxious woman at a dinner party a while back who boasted that her chocolate chip cookies were the best, and soon I would be “begging” her for the recipe, which she would “never” give me. (Truthfully, I had her tagged as obnoxious even before the cookie conversation.) The party’s hostess, a close friend, cut in with, “Lori is a really good baker, and she doesn’t need a recipe from you. She writes a blog!”
While I love my friend for coming to my defense, I decided I would worm the cookie secret from the loudmouth chick by employing some Godfather wisdom: Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. By the end of the party, I had basically gotten her to tell me what made these cookies so good―and they were good―less butter and sugar than you find in most recipes. So I immediately set to work and discovered what I think is the best combination of ingredients.
You know, I still don’t consider myself a particularly competitive person, but I seriously enjoy a challenge and I love puzzles. So, if we meet at a dinner party and you tell me that you have a secret recipe for something that appeals to me, I will probably pepper you with questions and then go home to try to figure out the recipe on my own. But rest assured: I would never make you beg for a recipe. Cross my heart.
No-Beg Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 18 3½-inch cookies
I tried both Ghirardelli’s bittersweet baking bar (60% cocoa) and Green & Black’s dark chocolate bar (70% cocoa). While I like to eat the G&B on its own, the Ghirardelli is better for cookies. If you want to use chocolate chips instead, substitute 1½ cups of bittersweet chips for the chopped chocolate. Ghirardelli makes excellent bittersweet chips. If you want to go vegan with these, sub Earth Balance or another nondairy margarine for the butter and make sure your chocolate doesn’t have any milk fat. Both the Ghirardelli bittersweet baking bar and chips do. If you want to make smaller cookies, use half as much dough for each cookie and bake 7-8 minutes. This will yield about 3 dozen cookies.
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar, packed
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Line baking sheet with parchment. If you don’t want to use parchment, that’s fine. Just don’t grease the baking sheet.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In large bowl, whisk together butter, sugars, applesauce and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.
3. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough onto baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to rack. When completely cooled, store in airtight container for up to 3 days.