Browned butter, lots of chocolate, and two kinds of espresso give a welcome jolt to the classic skillet cookie
I’ll never say no to a chocolate chip cookie of any kind, but there’s something supremely indulgent about a warm, super-sized version topped with a scoop of ice cream that several people can eat at once. As someone who enforced a “no slicing the cake” policy for one of my pre-COVID birthdays (I strongly encouraged, aka peer pressured, everyone to dig into the cake with their own respective utensils), this kind of freeform, communal, and slightly haphazard eating experience brings me great joy.
All of which is to say that while I learned embarrassingly late in life what a pizookie was — “a cookie baked in a large circle like a pizza” popularized by the chain BJ’s — I immediately recognized and its appeal. I’ve personally never been fond of the large, frosting-covered, cookie-shaped cakes à la Mrs. Fields, but a chocolatey, scoopable cookie fresh from the oven? That I can get behind. Whether you call it a pizookie, cookie cake, or something else entirely, the payoff is pretty great for the level of effort required to make it. And if you need any convincing, let this espresso chocolate chunk cookie cake (inspired by my friend Stephanie Loo’s skillet cookie) do the talking.
Think of this easy recipe as a edgier, caffeine-spiked version of your classic chocolate chip cookie. Brown a stick of butter until it smells nutty and toasty, then whisk in brown sugar, granulated sugar, and a tablespoon of instant espresso powder. Mix in an egg and a splash of vanilla extract, then add the dry ingredients. Chop up a bar of good-quality dark chocolate (chunks over chips, forever and always) and a generous handful of chocolate-covered espresso beans (they’re easier to find than you may think) and fold those in to finish. Spread the dough into a cake pan and voilà, have a wonderfully decadent, espresso-laced cookie cake ready to serve (or savor on your own) in under half an hour.
The double-dose of espresso does double duty here: the espresso powder infuses the cookie with subtle coffee notes and tempers its sweetness, while the chocolate-covered espresso beans provide pops of concentrated flavor. Taken together, they’re a reminder that just a few ingredients can go a long way in transforming a classic into something new and unexpected.
To serve, you can let the cookie cool before inverting it and cutting it into slices. But if you categorize yourself as lazy and/or impatient (*raises hand*), I recommend serving it warm right out of the pan with scoops of ice cream on top. (Speaking from personal experience, coffee ice cream really takes it over the top.) No matter the occasion, consider this espresso chocolate chunk cookie your one-way ticket to foolproof, treat-yourself comfort: it’s the instant mood booster — and jolt of caffeine — I think we could all use more of right now.
Espresso Chocolate Chunk Cookie Cake Recipe
Makes 1 (9-inch) cake
½ cup (113 grams or 1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup (140 grams) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (100 grams) light brown sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75 grams total) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 (3-3.5-ounce bar) good-quality bittersweet chocolate (70-72 percent cocoa works well), chopped into chunks
⅓ cup (2.5 ounces) chocolate-covered espresso beans
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round pan with nonstick cooking spray, line the bottom with a parchment round, and grease the parchment.
Step 2: Brown the butter: Cut the butter into rough chunks and melt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking the butter, stirring with a rubber spatula as it foams, until it browns and smells nutty—about 5-7 minutes (be sure to stir constantly as the butter begins to change color). Once it browns, immediately pour the butter, along with the browned bits, into a large heat-proof mixing bowl.
Step 3: In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Step 4: Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and espresso powder to the bowl of brown butter and whisk to combine. Whisk in the egg, then the vanilla, until well combined.
Step 5: Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and fold the mixture with a rubber spatula just until no streaks of flour remain.
Step 6: Reserve a handful of good-sized chocolate chunks for topping, along with a small handful of whole chocolate-covered espresso beans. Roughly chop the rest of the espresso beans, then add the chopped beans and the remainder of the chocolate chunks to the dough and fold until evenly distributed.
Step 7: Transfer the dough to the prepared pan and use a small offset spatula to spread the dough evenly to the edges and smooth the surface as best as you can. Gently press the reserved chocolate chunks and whole beans on top.
Step 8: Bake the cookie cake for 18-21 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the top looks set, the edges are lightly golden, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (for the best texture, err on the side of under-baking).
Step 9: Serve the warm cookie right out of the pan, or alternatively, let the cookie cool for 20 minutes (the cake will fall slightly). Gently run a small offset spatula around the edges to loosen. Invert onto a large plate and cut into slices to serve.
Joy Cho is a freelance writer, recipe developer, and pastry chef based in New York City.
Celeste Noche is a Filipino American food, travel, and portrait photographer based between Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco.
Recipe tested by Deena Prichep