A few years ago, the idea of adding salt as an accent flavor to a dessert – in addition to just having a pinch in with the ingredients – was new and exciting. Now, it’s a lot more common to find salt in slightly unexpected places, such as sprinkled on top of cookies and caramels in a much more obvious way than ever before. I’ve also seen salt blended into a bars of chocolate. I saw a handful of bars like these a year or so ago – very gourmet items with a premium price – but have seen the combination much more frequently. A coffee shop I like (the Los Angeles based Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf) is now selling their own brand of salted dark chocolate that you can pick up with your morning latte.
I did pick up a couple of these bars recently, but not just to eat. No, I picked them up to bake with them. The dark chocolate is creamy and smooth, with a rich cocoa flavor and berry notes. It also has noticeable specks of sea salt sprinkled throughout that infuse the bar with a hit of salt when they melt on your tongue. I figured that the chocolate bars would be delicious in cookies, where that saltiness would serve to set off the sugars in the cookie dough as well as the sugar in the chocolate.
The cookies turned out beautifully. They’re crisp on the edges and chewy in the center. I added some ground oats to the cookies to help keep them moist and preserve that chewiness even after keeping them for a couple of days. The salt in the chocolate adds a nice savory – and definitely unexpected – twist to these cookies, too.
If you can’t find a bar of salted chocolate, dark or milk, you can still make these cookies. Pick up your favorite dark chocolate and chop it into chunks. Stir them into the cookies along with 1/4 tsp sea salt (fairly coarse, but not like rock salt). Add the salt with the chocolate so that the grains don’t dissolve into the dough when you mix them in. This way, you’ll get that same small hit of salt as you much your way through the cookie.
Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
1/4 cup oatmeal
1 2/3 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup salted dark chocolate, chopped
or 3/4 cup dark chocolate chunks + 1/4 tsp coarse sea salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place oatmeal in the food processor and whiz until very fine.
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, ground oats, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla extract and egg until smooth. With the mixer on low speed or working by hand, gradually add in all the flour mixture, stopping when the dough has just come together and no streaks of flour remain. Stir in chocolate chips.
Place 1-inch balls of dough on baking sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes, until just golden around the edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 dozen.