As I’ve mentioned before, I record Martha Stewart’s show every day. I rarely have the time to watch every minute of every episode though, so instead I fast forward through to the segments that interest me most. Even still, there’s a perpetual backlog of Martha on my DVR. And for reasons I still don’t understand, one hour of her show occupies far more space on my DVR than just about any of my other hour-long shows.
Anyway, last week I was trying to power through a few episodes to clear space for my Thursday night shows (Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) when I came across one all about weddings. I don’t know why I didn’t just erase it immediately since I’ve already done the wedding thing, and have zero interest in the topic these days, but I’m so glad I didn’t or I may not have discovered these awesome chocolate chip cookies!
The connection between the cookies and a wedding episode? The recipe comes from a book called The Newlywed Cookbook, which I think coincidentally may also have been the title of a similar book that Shane and I received as a wedding gift many years ago. As the author described her thousand-layer chocolate chip cookies and made them with Martha, I was immediately intrigued. With the alternating layers of butter and dough that create puff pastry as her inspiration, she came up with a really unique method for making chocolate chip cookies. Instead of incorporating the chocolate into the dough and scooping it out to bake the cookies, she layers shards of chocolate between chilled rectangles of dough, rolls it out just enough to fuse the layers then cuts the cookies out with a round cutter.
I was in my kitchen making my first batch later that day, and by the end of the weekend, I’d already had to make the recipe a second time. Shane and I loved them, and the neighbor I shared them with declared them the best cookies ever For me, they had the perfect texture – just slightly crisp on the edges with a soft, chewy interior. Oh, and the cookies are HUGE (easily 3 1/2 to 4 inches in diameter) so ratio of chewy center (my favorite part) to edge is high. The shards of chocolate are dispersed throughout the cookie so there’s lots of chocolate in every single bite. I prefer to prep the dough and cut the rounds, then pop them in the refrigerator, baking the cookies on demand a few at a time. The flavor definitely intensifies after the dough’s been refrigerated for a day or two, and the cookies also spread a little less in the oven.
Admittedly, this recipe is more work than your typical chocolate chip cookie, but I thought the process was really fun. Without performing a side-by-side comparison, I’d say these thousand-layer chocolate chip cookies rank right up there with my go-to recipe. After my success with this recipe, I hopped online and requested the cookbook from my library (even though I don’t think we technically qualify as newlyweds anymore). I’m so intrigued to find out what other unique recipes and techniques might be in it!
2 1/4 cups (280 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into shards
1 large egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash)
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl once or twice. Add the egg yolks, two at a time, beating until combined, then add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.
Divide the dough into three equal portions (mine each weighed about 290 g). Shape each into a 4×6-inch rectangle, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Unwrap the dough rectangles. Place one on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle half of the chocolate evenly over the dough rectangle. Top with a second piece of dough. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate over the second piece of dough, then finally top with the third piece of dough. The tower of dough and chocolate will be tall, and chocolate may fall out the sides, that’s ok. Dust the top piece of dough lightly with flour, then use a rolling pin to gently roll the stack of dough and chocolate into roughly a 9×6-inch rectangle about 1 1/2 inches thick. Use a 2-inch round cutter to cut as many rounds as possible from the dough. Transfer the rounds to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (Flour the cutter as necessary if it’s sticking to the dough.) Gather the scraps of dough together into a 1 1/2-inch thick mound and cut additional cookies out. (This might seem impossible at first, but just gather the dough scraps as best you can – the cookies will look and taste good regardless of what your mound of scraps looks like.)
Cover the baking sheet loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate the unbaked cookies for at least an hour or two. I left mine in there for several days, baking off a few at a time on demand. (This isn’t strictly necessary but I found it led to thicker cookies with deeper flavor.)
Preheat oven to 375 F. If you’re going to bake all of the cookies at once, separate them onto a few baking sheets, leaving at least 2-3 inches between the rounds (the cookies will spread a lot). Brush the tops of the rounds with the egg wash and, if desired, sprinkle with a few grains of fleur de sel.
Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are set (rotating the baking sheets halfway through if you’re baking more than one sheet of cookies). The centers will still seem really soft and underbaked, but that’s fine. They’ll set up as they cool. Transfer the baking sheet(s) to wire rack(s) and let the cookies cool for about 5 minutes before removing them to the racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 4 days.