These soft-chewy Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies have all the lovely caramel-y, chocolate-y flavors of a classic choco chipper, but with a nice touch of bourbon in every bite.
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Cookies to ring in the new year
After making these Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies, I’m convinced adding booze to every chocolate chip cookie recipe is a good idea. It gives this extra dimension to a classic, making it decidedly a bit more adult. I mean, obviously you cannot get drunk from cookies, but there is still something extra satisfying about these ones in particular. The booze element makes me think new year’s eve and watching fireworks with drink and cookie in hand. But really, these Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies work for any time of the year.
Speaking of new year’s… 2022 flew by, didn’t it? I say the same thing almost every year but I was honestly taken aback by how fast November shifted to December this year. We were just talking about drawing names for our Exchange Gift in the office (my day-job) and suddenly our Christmas party was around the corner and I had not bought my gift yet lol. Time flies when you’re busy, I guess. I’ve been busy with work but I have also been busy focusing on my other hobbies, simply because I had a major social media/blogging burnout phase before the -ber months rolled in.
If you’re here for the cookies and got no time for drama, now would be the time to skip to the recipe notes section below, because I’m going to take a little moment for myself here.
I think it started around August or September and went on for an unexpectedly long period, but I actually stewed over giving up on this blog. It got to a point where I was literally agonizing over my life choices and questioning what I was exhausting myself for. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this kind of lost confidence, but I just felt “done” at the time, you know? I told some of my friends about my feelings and all of them were like “SAYANG NAMAN! It would be such a waste!” And yes, a part of me agreed with them. You all don’t know this, but I hustled really hard during the first half of 2022 to produce content. In fact, I already have a backlog that will last me this entire year! The only reason nothing has been published is because I didn’t feel motivated to edit or write. ZERO motivation! So I did the only thing that felt right: I decided not to force myself.
They say you have to go back to the basics when you hit a rough patch or a wall, and the same is apparently true in blogging. I needed to remind myself why I started this blog to begin with, and that is sharing food-related stuff I’ve tried, tested, and ended up loving– with anyone who’s game to know about them. That’s it! In the past year however, I kept fixating on the fact that I’m no longer getting the same traffic and views that I used to. It got to a point where I started feeling utterly inadequate, which if I think about it really hard makes no sense. Not to toot my own horn, but I really do not think that my content is bad. Secondly, I didn’t start this blog with the goal of winning some sort of contest. When did I start subconsciously trying to compete anyway?
All I ever wanted was to take photos, make videos, share recipes… And somewhere along the way I started feeling pressured to match up to the people who churn out content like a bunch of machines. I started stressing out about how often I should post, about the technical stuff, about the numbers, etc etc etc. I started to feel disappointed that I wasn’t meeting all the ridiculous standards I set for myself even though I was just a hobbyist, not a full-time content creator. There was a period where I would work late into the night and be sleepy and cranky at work the next morning, and it was NOT PRETTY. There was no more joy in what I was doing here, only pressure and stress and that feeling of no matter how hard I tried my efforts were not and will never be enough. The feeling was bad enough that it made me want to throw in the towel.
Speaking now with the benefit of hindsight, I’m relieved I’m not generally an impulsive person who would just delete things while feeling emotional. I’m relived that I somehow recognized I needed a moment to dig deep and rediscover what this blog actually is for me. It’s funny because when I started this blog, I was constantly told that this was just a waste of time. And back then I was completely unfazed and kept going, eventually proving my naysayers wrong. I guess it’s true what they say: You are your worst enemy. Because the moment I was the one thinking about my own perceived failings, it was so easy for me to just want to give up. But the part of me that still really loves taking photos and writing about the things I make in the kitchen, about the products and the restaurants I discover, and about the places I visit, was bigger. And my love was also bigger than any desire to attain millions of readers and followers. This blog is a home for things I’m enthusiastic about, and it is also for people who are enthusiastic about the same things to realize they have a friend here. And maybe there’s just 10 of us, but you know what? In my heart, I am actually okay with that!
Of course, this in no way disparages other content creators. I’m happy for those who are extra productive, truly. I know how hard it is to plan, execute, and edit content, so I respect that they can do all of that so quickly and so regularly. I also know that many people do content creation as a full-time job, but THAT IS JUST NOT MY LIFE. I have to acknowledge that I cannot and should not give myself the same expectations! I am not inferior just because I can’t produce content regularly, and I think that the people who take time to write me random heartwarming private messages about particular things they read on the blog can attest to that. (Thank you all, by the way!)
It may have taken me a while to digest and appreciate all of these truths, but perhaps it is also a testament to how deeply I love this hobby that I keep giving myself time to reset rather than retire every time the going gets tough. I realize now that in itself is telling.
To add, I am grateful for the series of events mid-December that slowly flipped my mindset around for me. It’s very difficult to put them into words (and I don’t want this blog post to take FOREVER) so I won’t even try, but in a nutshell, my end-of-2022 “healing” consisted of a wedding (not mine, though I was part of the entourage!), a missed flight, and a weeklong vacation in another country. My 2023 also started with me taking the steps to be honest with my feelings. I was finally able to free my heart of certain things that I didn’t even realize have been weighing me down for years now, just by confronting and voicing out a truth I’ve been keeping inside. As for the blog, in keeping with my “fresh start” theme, I decided to make some partnership changes. Let’s just say it has been giving me much needed confidence and has been helping me to rediscover the value of what I’ve been doing here. All to say: God works in mysterious ways, as usual.
For the first time in so many years, I feel like a “newer” version of myself who feels nothing but ready to “move onto the next”! I cannot even remember the last time a new year actually felt like a “new” year for me. I suppose it’s fair to say that feeling of renewal can only be most gratifying after spending some time in a very dark hole. Well, I am so ready to face the sun now. Time to make 2023 a great year of recipes, eats, and travels!
Now back to the cookies!
It’s a mystery to me how I can never tire of chocolate chip cookies. I love trying different versions of them. Heck, I even have a personal ranking for the best classic Choco Chip Cookie recipe among the ones I have already made, which you can view via this post. It’s not that I enjoy pitting recipes against each other, but when you bake as much as I do, you can’t help but want to put things into perspective. For special CCCs like these Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies, I don’t tend to put them into rankings. I don’t know about you, but I tend to like a particular flavor of cookies more when I’m in a particular mood. Sometimes I’m in the mood for Orange-Chocolate Chip Cookies, sometimes I like Sweet & Salty ones. I used to make these Rosemary Chocolate Chunk Cookies when I’m in the mood for something unusual, but haven’t been able to since our rosemary plant died.
Today however it’s all about the Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies.
I think the main question in your minds right now is: How bourbon-y do these really taste. Actually, I would say that it’s not too subtle and not too in-your-face either, but it’s definitely there. I personally found that I could get a good sense of the bourbon behind all the chocolate. It reminds me a little of the liquor chocolates I love so much from Anthony Berg, except I get extra layers of caramel tones here. If for some reason you find that you are unable to get that bourbon… Eat another cookie lol.
Seriously speaking though, I think dough refrigeration time will play a crucial part in the flavor of these cookies. I do not think the brand of bourbon will matter as much as the time you give the dough to mature in flavor. The minimum recommended refrigeration time for this recipe is 2 hours, but I personally think an extended refrigeration time (ie. overnight) will allow the flavors of the dough to mature even further, resulting in something even tastier. The second reason you need to refrigerate this dough is because it’s quite a soft dough. You will be able to scoop the dough into mounds but if you bake them right away the cookies will come out flat. And nobody likes a flat CCC, let me tell you.
I actually experimented with the dough a little bit by “blast-chilling” it for 40 minutes. The dough firmed up enough that my cookies came out nicely, but when they were fresh, I had to try REALLY hard to get the bourbon notes. It wasn’t until the next day that the flavors of the the cookie settled enough that my tastebuds could get that little bourbon tingle, and even then it wasn’t as prominent as a “matured” cookie. I will admit however that these cookies, regardless of how long you refrigerate, tend to start tasting better the day after they are made. There are just some slight differences to how strong the bourbon tone is.
And by the way, do yourself a favor and use a combination of chocolates in different percentages for a yummier cookie. Trust me. This is one of my most important chocolate-chip-making musts! This is the rule that stays the same for me regardless of the kind of choco chip cookie I make. If you want to make cookies with oozing chocolate like I always do, use actual chocolate and cut them into large chunks. I like using Auro Chocolate buttons, uncut, because they melt into these surprise POOLS of chocolate. SO SO GOOD. If you use only supermarket chocolate chips in your cookies, remember that they are designed to stay whole despite being heated. I like using them in combination with regular chocolates, but never alone. You just cannot go back to simply using chocolate chips once you’ve tried using the combination.
- Make sure to cream your butter and sugar properly. Proper creaming is crucial as this step helps aerate the dough, increasing the volume and body of the dough itself. You start with room temperature butter. One quick way to tell if butter is ready is that it should be soft enough to create a clear indent when the surface is pushed with your finger. However it should not be too soft that your finger breaks through the butter and slices it in half! The goal in creaming is to achieve a sugar and butter mixture that is fluffy and is lighter in color than when you started. Both elements should also be indistinguishable from each other at this point, which means you should no longer be able to see large sugar crystals. A more detailed explanation can be read here.
- You can use any brand of bourbon available to you. I used Jim Beam, which is not that expensive and easily available to me, and my cookies came out pretty great. If you have the more expensive stuff lying around your house, you can use that too. 4 Tablespoons isn’t too much…
- Use a combination of types and percentages of chocolate in your cookies. I have been baking choco chip cookies for so long now, but it wasn’t until I started doing this that my cookies were transformed from good to spectacular! Using chocolate chips alone will never give you the satisfying melted chocolate pools in the middle of the cookies, so if you have some funds to spare just splurge on the dang chocolate! Buy your favorite chocolate bars in varying cacao percentages, then chop them into chunks and throw them in with the chocolate chips. I usually add an equal amount of chips and chunks, and my go-to percentage is either 64% of 70%. Since this recipe requires 2 cups of chocolate, I used 1 cup Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Chips, and 1 cup Auro Chocolate 64% Dark Chocolate Buttons. Personally though, Ghirardelli‘s chocolate chips are the best I’ve used so far.
- Do not overwork the dough. Once you’ve added in the dry ingredients, try not to overmix the dough to avoid gluten and maintain a chewy cookie. Mix just until the dry ingredients are about 90% combined, then throw in the chocolate and mix the rest of the way just until the chocolate is distributed.
- Do not skip the refrigeration time for these cookies! I get that it’s tempting to bake these right away and be done with them, but after you portion out the dough you will immediately notice that the dough is quite soft. If you bake these without refrigerating them, they will only spread inside the oven and become flat cookie discs. At the very least, you want to freeze the dough for 40 minutes before baking to get a nice shape and chubbiness, but I highly recommend at least 2 hours in the fridge. It’s better to refrigerate these overnight however, because not only does it give the dough time to firm up, it also gives the flavors in the dough time to mature. You’ll get more pronounced bourbon and caramel notes. (I recommend scooping before refrigerating as well to make life easier.)
- I find that these cookies taste even better the next day. Giving the bourbon more time to settle and mature within the cookies is a good idea. I also think the texture of the cookies improve once they are completely, completely cooled. These cookies will keep fresh up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container.
Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup (227 grams) butter, softened
- 1 cup (220 grams) brown sugar, packed
- 2/3 cup (127 grams) granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 4 Tablespoons bourbon
- 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3 cups (360 grams) all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons (9 grams) cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 cups (340 grams) chocolate chunks or chips, combination of semisweet and dark is best
- Sea salt, for optional topping
- In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and sugars until light and fluffy. (You can also use a stand mixer with paddle attachment on medium-high, mixing about 3 minutes.)
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to mix well before adding in the next egg. Beat in bourbon and vanilla extract until combined. (Beat on medium-low speed if using a mixer.)
- Add in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Use a spatula to fold the dry ingredients in just until combined. Finally, fold in the chocolate chunks/chips just until distributed. The dough will be a bit soft.
- Use a 3-Tablespoon-capacity cookie scoop or spoon to portion out the dough into rounds, then place the rounds side by side (but not touching) on a lined baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough mounds at least 2 hours, or freeze for about 40 minutes if in a hurry. (Baking them without chilling will result in very flat cookies.)
- About 20 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line another baking sheet with parchment paper and place the dough balls at least 2 inches apart on this fresh sheet. Sprinkle with some sea salt, if desired.
- Bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are just set and the cookies are slightly golden on top. The centers will look slightly undercooked. (You can bake a little longer if you like firmer cookies, but we’re aiming for soft-chewy.) Cool cookies on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining cookie dough.
- I find that these cookies taste even better the next day, when the bourbon has had more time to settle and mature within the cookies. The texture of the cookies also seem to improve. These cookies will keep fresh up to 1 week if stored in an airtight container.
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