the chocolate chronicles, part three: chocolate chubbies.

I know, right? Hard to resist that title. We may as well get the giggles out of the way now, because the name of this cookie is one of the reasons this cookie stood out to me. The recipe lives in the pages of the Sarabeth’s Bakery Cookbook, which I received as part of my Mother’s Day gift this year. In a twist of irony, I also received a top-of-the-line jogging stroller. It is my favorite thing ever right now, because the weather here is beautiful. I requested it (don’t worry; Mr. Table is still with us) because one of the cons of food writing is sneaky weight gain, and I do what I can to counteract it. After all, I don’t need these cookies to become my ‘signature cookie,’ if you know what I mean.Β 

I think everyone has their own way of getting to know new cookbooks. Some just crack it open and start cooking, others vigorously flip through the pages and then shove them in a bookshelf and let them sit a bit. I put mine through a process which involves a cursory page-flip, followed by a reading, novel-style, of the first sections. I’m a literature major, people, so I can’t help myself; I love reading. It’s my jam. Reading cookbooks, however, is one of the notable changes I’ve seen in myself since turning the corner from “I sometimes bake things” to “making food is my world.” I take it more seriously now, and it doesn’t seem at all tedious. It gives me information I need to have for the recipes: supply lists and baking philosophy are critical, I think, to successful food-making. I know i’ve said that before, but I can’t say it enough. I suppose that ‘s my baking philosophy.

The first thing I noticed about this book was how intensely proper it looked, and I mean that in a very good way. it’s a stunning thing, really, in large part due to photographs by one of my favorite food photographers, Quentin Bacon. I would love to be him. I would love to sit and have loads of coffee with him and learn things. The second thing I noticed was that this was a baaaaaaaking book. Filled with not just cookies and cakes and whatever, but actual pastry-making. Danish dough. Croissant dough. Puff pastry, for pete’s sake (isn’t there a reason I can buy puff pastry all frozen up in grocery stores?). Technical things which I have avoided at all costs for years now, because somehow I would manage to fail at every. Single. One of them.

But not this time. This time was different. This time, I’m ready. I can do this. You know why? Because my friend Movita Beaucoup is headed to baking school in the fall, and at her orientation she learned she will be making 250 kinds of bread. I had no idea there were that many types. I’ve actually been trying to name some in my head and can’t come up with more than a handful. But she will know how to make them all soon. And who knows what else she’s planning to learn. I don’t know the first thing about baking school, but I know it takes some courage to change your career.

So here’s my plan: I’m going to attend baking school with Movita. Not really, although I imagine if she and I went to baking school together we would rock their world (or get thrown out). She will go to real school, and I will attend pretend school here, which means taking this enormous Sarabeth’s book, filled with things which I am scared of, and learning. Learning how to make buttery croissants, and wee braided danishes filled with jam, and brioche, and all sorts of other things. And when I fail, I’m just going to have to keep going until I get it right. I’ll treat it like baking school. I may even teach the Wee One to stand by me and say things like “you can do it!” and “no! try again!” and “what is that supposed to be?” to make it more realistic. I have a little thing for Gordon Ramsay (although I prefer the BBC TV shows to the American ones), so I’ll teach her to throw in things like “YOU DONUT!” for fun.

And that is how I plan to shower her with support. Because if I can do it, certainly she can do it, as I suspect she’s more talented than I am to begin with. I am so proud of her, and if we can be friends virtually, we can also attend school together from a geographic distance. Even though my school is pretend school.

Until we begin our individual dough journeys, I give her (and you) this cookie; the chocolate chubbie. Β It is simply incredible, and probably one of the funniest-looking cookies I make, simply because it stays standing at attention even after baking. It’s crackly on the outside, fudgey on the inside, and absolutely filled to the brim with walnuts and pecans.

Just look inside there. Take a peek. Glorious, I know. And even though this is a silly looking cookie, it does demand a certain amount of technical work to make it successfully, so read through the recipe. I finally purchased a proper ice cream scoop during a recent kitchen stock-up trip to Sur la Table because I knew these were on the agenda for me, and I can’t imagine having these come off correctly without one. You want perfectly rounded domes, and you can’t always get that from rolling them around in your hands. I tried a few using the hand-rolling method, and here’s what happened:

Right. Not so chubby. Still delicious, but less brownie-like on the inside, and a little crackly on the outside.So put that little ice cream scoop on your list if you don’t have one; it’s a wonderful tool to have around for all sorts of cookies if you want them even in size and shape.

Feel free to make adjustments to the nuts if you wish: I know some people have a thing for walnuts, and some can’t stand the sight of them, so do as you wish. I’d keep the quantities the same, but substitute one for the other (or do more of one and less of the other) as you like. I normally use a nut chopper when a recipe calls for chopped nuts, but for this, I hand-chopped them roughly with a chef’s knife. I’d argue that it’s actually less work than running all of them through a nut chopper, and I wanted to stay as true to the cookie’s name as possible. So; chubby nuts in the chubby cookies. I need to test my theory, but I suspect the fat nuts help bolster the cookies a little too.

Although the chocolate chronicles have concluded, I have my designs on continuing the series later this year and making it an ongoing special feature. There’s one more bonus post coming up for this chapter, so stay tuned and ready the ingredients for your favorite one of the series.

Because I’m going to show you how to make. An all-homemade. Twisted. S’more.

With homemade graham ganache and marshmallow fluff.

I’ll leave you with that. Oh, and the chubbies recipe.

Adapted from Sarabeth’s Bakery: From My Hands to Yours by Sarabeth Levine.

Chocolate Chubbies

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 9 ounces semisweet chocolate (I used a 60%; use one that is no more than 62%), chopped*
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped*
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature*
  • 1 1/4 cup superfine sugar*
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts

*notes on ingredients: where chocolate is specified, use good-quality chocolate baking bars, NOT chocolate chips. They won’t always melt in the same manner and could seize up on you, which means you wasted money AND you don’t get chocolate chubbies. If you forget to take your eggs out a few hours before you begin, pop the unbroken eggs in a cup of warm water for a few minutes while you assemble your dry ingredients to take the chill off. Don’t have superfine sugar? Whiz some regular sugar in a food processor for a few minutes.

Preheat oven to 350˚F and position racks in center of oven. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper. This may be the only time you ever see me say “line 2 pans,” because my rule is 1 sheet at a time, but these seemed to work well with 2.

Bring a small amount of water to a summer in a medium saucepan over low heat. Put the butter in a wide heatproof bowl or double boiler and melt the butter over the hot water in the saucepan, stirring occasionally.

While the butter is melting, Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt together into a medium bowl.

Add the semisweet and unsweetened chopped chocolate, stirring frequently, until melted completely and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let stand, stirring occasionally, until cooled slightly but still warm, about 5 minutes.

Whip the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until the eggs are foamy and lightly thickenened, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to high and gradually add the sugar and the vanilla. Whip on high until the eggs are very thick and pale yellow, 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and beat in the warm (but not hot) melted chocolate until completely incorporated (no streaks). Change over to the paddle attachment, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and reduce the mixer speed to low.

Add the flour mixture in two parts, beating after each addition on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips, pecans, and walnuts, making sure the chunky ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the dough. This takes a few minutes, but it’s well worth your time; you want all three chunky ingredients evenly in each cookie.

Using a 2-inch diameter ice cream scoop, portion out the batter onto the prepared pans. I think it helped the shape to scoop out and up the side of the bowl, pressing the dough against the side. once out of the bowl, i pressed the dough into the scoop once again with my palm, then gently unearthed the dough ball from the scoop onto the tray, being careful to not disturb it too much. Set them about 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake for 15-17 minutes, rotating your sheets from top to bottom and front to back between your two racks halfway through baking. Check them at about the 13-minute mark for doneness, because you won’t want to overdo these. Mine were done at 15 minutes, and any more time could have caused dramatically different results. Chocolate cookies, although worth the trouble, are really difficult to tell when done. Especially these, because you take into account their mass. i’m here to tell you it’s okay; do a test batch of a few first if you’re worried.

Cool your cookies for about 10 minutes on baking sheets, then lift carefully using a spatula and transfer to wire racks to cool the rest of the way. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes just about 24 big fat cookies.

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  • Reply Jen @ Juanita's Cocina June 6, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    So, I just showed Jon the chocolate to test his “love for chocolate”. And his exact words in regards to this post were, “Those look AWWWWWEsome mom! When can we make them? There’s nothing on TV tonight.”

    So, you’re officially better than TV.

    Which I already knew, but now he does too.

    *smooches and hugs*

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 3:49 pm

      yay! i’ve been approved by the entire house, then! what a moment for me; i’m thrilled. when i win out over television, it’s a small victory for me and a large one for the cooking community. go, us. πŸ™‚

      *hugs and smooches back* give my love to the rest of ’em. πŸ™‚

  • Reply natalie June 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Seriously. My keyboard is covered in drool right now….

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      somehow i am unsurprised by this, miss natalie. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Mary Rose June 6, 2012 at 7:28 pm


    And now I want to start a group called the Chocolate Chubbies. I’m not sure what we’ll do besides eat chocolate, but I think we’ll have fun!

    Thanks for showing results with and without a scoop. After making thousands, perhaps millions of cookies in my life–if I haven’t made that many, no doubt I’ve eaten that many–the way my mom and grandma did, with a teaspoon or tablespoon, I finally bought a scoop this year. What a difference it makes in forming the dough!

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 4:07 pm

      I want to be the first member (besides you) and maybe hold some sort of office in The Chocolate Chubbies group. πŸ™‚ even an honorary title would be fine, and i know we’d have a fabulous time. it just sounds fun.

      Me too! my favorite “tool” for baking was always those larger serving spoons that come with silverware sets – i’d use the regular size for smaller cookies. I also broke down this year and got a proper scoop, and especially for some things, there’s really no comparison. Saves a lot of vigorous rolling around in your hands, too. thank you!

  • Reply Spencer June 6, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    How good do they look? Absolutely beautiful! You use good chocolate too!

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      thanks so much, Spencer!

  • Reply Emma June 7, 2012 at 6:00 am

    Chubby nuts in chubby cookies? Snicker!

    I don’t own an ice cream scoop! And I feel that this is a bit blasphemous to say, but… I’m not all that into cookies. Peculiar, I know.

    I am, however, way into pretend baking school.

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

      you know, i read this and started trying to think of things i’m not really into. I can say i’m not big into puddings by themselves (like just eating them with a spoon). i’m not super into trifles and parfaits either, and i think that’s sometimes my semi-obsessive way of being able to separate everything easily from each other (you can’t really do that when you have layers of cake and fruit and cream all moshed together). so i get the cookie thing.

      i love pretend baking school. we’ll be having a pretend orientation here in the next few months so i can pretend know what to expect. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Emma June 8, 2012 at 10:23 am

        Make sure to have your loved one or parent pretend tag along with you.

        • Reply shannon June 9, 2012 at 5:37 am

          i already have the pretend permission slips needed for field trips signed and ready. *chuckle*

  • Reply Willow June 7, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    Wonderful post! I loved reading this. And I’m actually doing something kidn of similar – I tried to get into a baking program recently, but the classes are full (I mean, booked) clear through next year. So instead I looked at the required reading for the course, bought the first book (Professional Baking, by Wayne Gisslen) and plan to schedule time each day to read a chapter, learn a lesson, test a recipe, etc.. I look forward to reading more of your journey! πŸ˜€

    • Reply shannon June 7, 2012 at 4:09 pm

      oh my goodness, Willow, i’m so excited for our joint baking journeys now! what a great plan you have; i think that’s awesome and i hope i get to hear about it. i’ve never looked into baking school classes, but we keep having culinary arts schools pop up around here, so i imagine there’s a reason. i may have to look into actual classroom books if i make it through my first “semester” here. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Willow June 7, 2012 at 6:14 pm

        You’re lucky to have schools near you… I have a community college with decent (or so I’ve heard) culinary classes, but again – they’re full up. Then I have a prestigeous collage not too far away, but would never be able to afford to take the classes I want with all the necessary pre-reqs. Alas.
        However, I was homeschooled my entire life, so learning from home isn’t new to me. I may not have a lot of motivation, but with a bit of a push I bet I can get through it… knowing other people doing the same, or similar, is definitely helpful! πŸ™‚

        • Reply shannon June 9, 2012 at 5:42 am

          we have both sorts too: the community college ones (i hear those are quite good) and the “fancy” ones, and i can’t imagine how expensive they are to attend. I suppose those are for the “i’m going to rule the world with my cheffiness” and not for maybe those of us who want to just learn things. πŸ™‚
          were you really? i had several friends growing up who were homeschooled most of their lives (and then attended my high school for their last few years) and that certainly takes a special talent for self-learning, from what i gathered. Those kids were disciplined when it came to getting things done. Now you’ve got me and movita, and i agree: it’s way more fun and motivating in teams! we’ll lean on each other and learn all sorts of things. πŸ™‚

  • Reply movita beaucoup June 8, 2012 at 8:33 am

    Dear friend,

    I am just reading this. And I am so excited that we are going to baking school together! I’m feeling a little nervous about the whole thing, so if I can take you along for the ride, it will all be okay.

    We’re going to need some school supplies. Maybe we should get some cute things on Etsy? Also, I have to wear a uniform, so you might want to consider getting some sort of outfit for your baking school adventures. My classmates and I will have red scarves to wear around our necks – because red is some sort of official Boulanger colour. Who knew? I will try to keep track of the 250 breads we’re supposed to be learning about. Let’s face it, they might have lied. OR, maybe they are counting every kind of bagel you can imagine (plain, sesame, all-dressed, onion, garlic… that’s 5 right there).

    Also, this summer I’m going to get a head start on my classmates. Because even though 2.0 says school isn’t a competition, it kinda is. So, I’m going to try to make some wicked hard things right here at home. Just like you. Here’s to puff pastry and croissants!

    I loves you as much as butter loves bread.

    • Reply shannon June 9, 2012 at 5:49 am

      dear movita,

      i would have a difficult time with your nerves (because you’re wonderful, and you’ll do great), except that i know i’d be nervous too. very nervous. i would be most nervous about what the other people would think of me, how serious they were, what they knew which i didn’t know, etc. i imagine i’d feel the exact same way. but you ARE wonderful, and if i need to come up there to walk you to class, you let me know. πŸ™‚

      Etsy for school supplies is just about the best idea ever. I need an excuse for more kitchen things on etsy like a cat needs a reason to nap. i have already armed myself with vintage aprons (3) and may need to get coordinating scarves. I’ll look for a red one to match yours (and because it’s official? wow. colors. like little bakery gangs.)

      I thought about the bread thing, as in, do they count “flavors” as types. good point. i’ll need an update or some sort of syllabus sent to me regarding this.

      2.0, you’re kidding yourself; school is almost entirely about competition. you have to be the best, and you have to learn things, sure, but you have to be the best at it while you learn. I thought guys knew this stuff. sheesh. i’ll be starting out this summer with some “orientation” bread myself, so we’ll get warmed up together.

      i love you as much as croissants like to fail in my kitchen (lots!)


    • Reply Richard H. June 12, 2012 at 7:09 am

      Just a curious thought…

      I noticed, in the post, that you were in the midst of changing professions… Going to baking school and dropping something else. I wish I had your courage. I am in a similar boat; I went to engineering school for 4 years graduated and have been working in the industry for 2 years, but all I care to think about and all I want to ever do is bake… I have a terribly small kitchen, but I make it work.. Tell me, how on Earth did you build up the courage to drop what you knew, what kept you financially stable, and just go to baking school? I’m incredibly envious, and wish you the best of luck… I wish I could do it (hopefully I will soon).

      • Reply shannon June 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm

        Richard, i’m more in your boat than you think; it’s my dear friend movita (; if you like me, you’d definitely like her) who has dropped her lengthy career as a ballet instructor and will be attending baking school this fall. She’s nervous, and it takes an extreme amount of courage to do what she’s doing. I’ve sworn to challenge myself along with her and plan to learn some of the more advanced traditional pastry recipes and perfect them as moral support. So i’m home-schooling myself; stepping out of my comfort zone to learn some new things and get better at what i do.
        i can relate to dropping everything, however. 2 years ago, i (unexpectedly, even to me) dropped my own career as a graphic artist/copywriter to raise my daughter. Talk about not knowing what you’re doing; i had not one clue how to go about it. Working was what I had done since i was 16. But we managed, and i got better at it. Financially, it was a little scary too, but things have a way of working themselves out. I had always wanted to cook and bake more, and thought a way to keep myself busy would be to begin this blog, which i did after her first birthday.
        I can honestly tell you that after almost a year of doing all this writing, and baking, and cooking, it’s one of the best things i’ve ever done. At first I had zero clue what i was doing; i can’t imagine how embarrassing it must be to fail in public at baking school, because it’s embarassing enough in the privacy of your own home. But a year later (and two years) since I quit to follow this path, i have no regrets. It’s been completely rewarding, I get to talk to people like you, I get to share a little bit of my life with those of you who read this. I’ve made great friends, and most importantly, I’ve learned. I’ve learned how to be at ease in my own kitchen (also rather small), i’ve learned to be confident in my writing, and i’ve learned a lot about myself in the process.
        i’ll say this one last thing: follow your heart when it pulls you in a direction. i admire your tenacity in getting your degree in engineering; it’s something to be proud of. but if you feel yourself wanting, like really wanting, to explore something else, by all means, run towards it. It’s scary and weird and it’s frustrating at times, but you won’t regret it.

        • Reply Richard H. June 26, 2012 at 10:00 am

          I appreciate the hasty reply and apologize for not paying more attention to this post (I’m pretty sure I’ve visited your blog at least 100 times since my original post :P). Since I wrote that I haven’t (yet) built up the courage to make that leap but I DID make these chubbies for my firm and, on more than on occasion with these and other baked goods I’ve brought it, I’ve been told that I’ve ‘chosen the wrong profession.’

          Thanks for rubbing it in guys…

          Maybe that’ll be the final shove/push/kick/bonk-on-the-head I need to pursue the dream.

          Thanks for having one of the most entertaining, well-written, and informative food blogs I’ve come across… EVER! Maybe one day I’ll start one up…. (:

          • shannon June 28, 2012 at 8:43 pm

            richard, no problem! you just get back to me anytime you want; i’m in no rush. i’m just happy you take the time to visit. AND i’m totally happy your firm loved these little chubbies! it’s always so bolstering when people say you’ve chosen the wrong profession (as a compliment), but i can see how in your case, that may be like a little arrow to the heart. Take it as a good sign you really are talented enough to pursue baking as a profession, as i’m sure you are. having a dream is awesome, but it’s even better when you go into it knowing others have confidence in your talent. πŸ™‚

            when i worked full-time in my former profession years ago, i worked in a big office. I used to sporadically bake for my coworkers and bring things in, just because i felt like it. many of them told me the same thing: it was always “when are you going to open up a bakery?” or “why don’t you do this for a living?” and i had those same feelings, even though i really enjoyed what i did. Beginning this blog a year ago was a great start; who knows where it will take me, but it’s helped me focus on improving and allowed me to learn at my own pace. I would highly recommend it, even if it’s just a first step. I’d follow you. πŸ™‚

            and thank you so, so much for the compliments about the blog. i love writing it; i love ALL of it. and mostly i love that i get to talk to people who share the same passion for food and baking as i do. so i should be thanking YOU for being entertained by my random thoughts and photos. so, thank you.

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