Chocolate Espresso Sea Salt Cookies / by Alexa Arnold

Each year around the winter holidays, my workplace puts together a cookbook, filled with familial or other favorite recipes submitted by members of our team. Many featured recipes have been passed down through generations – the secrets of Grandma's famous breakfast casserole, prepared by her every Christmas morning, Dad's special spelt dough, or the cranberry recipe that finally made cranberries a star of the holiday meal table. The project got me thinking a lot about which recipes friends and family would think of when they think of my cooking. Vegetarian cooking, like my Roasted Root Vegetable dish, certainly would come to mind, but probably also these Chocolate Espresso Sea Salt cookies. These cookies are everything I look for in a dessert – crispness on the edges with a soft, gooey, chocolate center, topped with flakey sea salt. Basically, the perfect partner to a scoop of vanilla ice cream (which if you know me well, you know I'll advocate for vanilla ice cream over the fancy flavors any day). They're so good, I refer to them simply as, "the cookies", and friends know exactly which cookies I'm talking about. I've been known to bake them for birthdays, ship them across the country to surprise friends, and bring them to holiday gatherings. To put it simply, I'd be honored to be thought of alongside these cookies. 

I stumbled across the recipes on a blog a few years ago (it's since been closed down, but a version of the original recipe is still up on Food52), and I've adapted it very slightly over the years. I've played around with gluten-free flour blends, and given how little flour is included in the recipe, I can barely taste the difference. Aside from the 10 ounces of chocolate, the espresso is truly what makes these cookies shine, though I'll warn you that if you enjoy a late night cookie, you might find that the caffeine keeps you up later than you'd planned. These cookies are meant for sharing, so consider doubling the batch.

Chocolate Espresso Sea Salt Cookies

Adapted slightly from Food52
Makes 15-18 cookies, depending on size.

Ingredients:
> 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
> 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
> 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
> 1/3 cup flour (I used all-purpose, but feel free to experiment with other flours)
> 3/4 cup sugar
> 1 teaspoon baking powder
> 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
> 2 large eggs
> 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
> Additional sea salt, for sprinkling

Preparation:
1. Roughly chop the chocolate into fine, thin pieces. In a microwave of over the stove, melt 8 ounces of the chocolate, the butter and espresso powder. Mix until combined, then set aside.
2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until combined. Add the melted chocolate mixture to the bowl and whisk until combined. 
3. In a third bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add this to the bowl with the chocolate, eggs and sugar, and whisk together until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Mix in the remaining 2 ounces of roughly chopped chocolate. Cover the bowl in plastic wrap or foil, and let sit in the fridge for 1 hour or overnight. The longer, the better.
4. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Using a large spoon, drop small scoops of dough onto a nonstick baking sheet, spacing the cookies 1-inch apart. (You can also line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a drizzle of oil to avoid the cookies sticking to the sheet). Bake for about 10 minutes and then remove the cookies from the oven. Top each cookie with a sprinkle of flakey sea-salt. They should be soft, but not too soft – they'll continue to harden as they cool. Let them cool on the pan for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. 
5. Consider serving them alongside a scoop of vanilla ice cream. You won't regret it.