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Food

There’s no such thing as the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. Here’s one.

Eat the cookies warm for melty chocolate chunks.
Eat the cookies warm for melty chocolate chunks.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Last year, pan-slammed chocolate chip cookies were declared Best. Cookies. Ever. by social media tinkerbells. The technique involves slamming a pan of half-baked or just-baked cookies against the counter so that the air bubbles from baking soda and beaten eggs that lift the dough pop, flattening the cookies. Their tops then ripple like waves on a lake when a stone hits the surface. A dramatic look for mouthwatering photos.

But do they taste good? Well, of course. Because they’re chocolate chip cookies, which all taste good to some degree. When deflated, pan-slammed centers become dense like a cross between raw cookie dough and chocolate truffles. Extra buttery, sugary and chocolaty, they’re designed to be devoured quickly. They’re as indulgent as the act of posting pictures of them.

Those ooh-look-at-me cookies are an easy pleasure, a hard sugar high fast and fleeting. But sometimes you need a cookie with substance, something you have to chew that reveals its depth and complexity with each bite. Something that makes you feel like you can handle anything.

That’s what these cookies do. Chunky with crunchy walnuts, chewy with oats, fudgy with chocolate, these bake into thick, craggy disks with crisp edges and tender centers. They’re not technically chocolate chip cookies because they’re filled with chopped chocolate, but they deliver the same nostalgic comfort.

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Chopping the chocolate by hand gives you the obvious joy of big melty chunks, but, as important, slivers as thin as splinters that season the dough throughout. Untoasted whole walnuts have a tannic edge to their nuttiness that balances chocolate’s richness while highlighting its bittersweet side. And oats — lots of them — add a nuanced natural earthy sweetness to the white-and-brown sugar base.
Each bite gives you everything at once and also something new. You might hit a mother lode of chocolate or a walnut’s crackle, but always with the foundational oatmeal chew of a nicely salted buttery cookie.

It’s not that these are the best cookies ever. They’re the best cookies right now. Because chocolate chip cookie trends are a reflection of our times in America. We need fortitude heading into 2020 and, so, these hearty, nutty chocolate chunk cookies. When we were slamming pans the last few years, we needed a cookie that helped us look away from harsh realities and into screens of magical dough wrinkles. Pan-slammed cookies helped us escape reality; these chunky ones will get us through it.

Alternate the dough balls to fit more on a pan.
Alternate the dough balls to fit more on a pan.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 hour. Makes about 3 dozen.

14 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

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1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups old-fashioned (rolled) oats
2 cups walnut halves and pieces

1 Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Line 3 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2 Coarsely chop the chocolate into ½-inch chunks, leaving all the flaky bits on the cutting board. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl or on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.

3 Beat the butter and both sugars with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on medium speed, scraping the bowl occasionally, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the machine running on medium speed, pour in the cream in a steady stream and beat until smooth. Scrape the bowl, turn the machine to medium-low speed, and add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla. Beat just until smooth and scrape the bowl.

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4 Turn the machine to low speed and gradually add the flour mixture then the oats. Scrape the bowl, add the walnuts, and mix on low speed until evenly incorporated. You should hear the nuts cracking into smaller pieces as the paddle turns. Scrape in all the chocolate chunks and bits and beat on low speed until well mixed.

5 Use a large (3-tablespoon) cookie scoop to drop balls of dough onto a prepared sheet, spacing them 2 inches apart. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Scoop the remaining dough while the first batch bakes, then bake the remaining sheets, one at a time.

6 Cool on the pan on a wire rack. You can wait for them to completely cool or eat them warm. No judgment.

Variations
Salted Chocolate Chunk Walnut Oatmeal Cookies
Sprinkle the tops of the dough balls lightly with flaky sea salt, fleur de sel or kosher salt before baking.

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Substitute ¼ cup vegetable oil for 4 tablespoons butter. Beat with the butter and sugar and proceed as above.

Make Ahead
The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days and in the freezer for up to 3 months.


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