Chocolate chip cookies are a favorite dessert in our neck of the woods. Who doesn’t love the gooey, chewy chocolate that melts in your mouth? These sourdough chocolate chip cookies are a delicious twist on the traditional recipe and they’re made even better with the history behind them.
For those who don’t know, the chocolate chip cookie is actually a fairly recent invention. Back in 1938, two American women, Ruth Graves Wakefield and Sue Bride, put chocolate chips in cookies expecting them to melt. Instead, the chocolate chips held their shape and made these cookies the dessert sensation they are today.
The crazy thing is, that’s about when my mother started working on this recipe. According to her, she was the first in her neighborhood to start baking cookies with chips of chocolate inside. That was back in Peoria, Illinois in the early 1940s.
She used to always talk about how she’d bring her cookies to neighborhood gatherings and holiday parties. Before taking a bite, people would point at the cookies and whisper, “what’s in these?” Oh, what a pleasant surprise they had in store for them!
It didn’t take long for her to hone her recipe and begin teaching it to us kids once we were old enough to not burn the kitchen down. The exact recipe I Iearned is what I’ll be sharing with you here.
What Makes Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies Tasty
You might be wondering, “why sourdough?” This particular recipe came about from always having extra sourdough starter after making bread. But it stuck around for 80 years because the sourdough gives these cookies a slight tang that pairs perfectly with the rich, sweet taste of chocolate chips.
If you’re new to sourdough, don’t worry, this recipe is easy to follow. You can let the dough sit in the fridge overnight, or get on to baking within 15 minutes if you don’t have the time (or you just can’t wait to have a cookie).
What’s nice about this recipe is you can go for soft, chewy cookies, or leave them in a minute or two longer for a more cake-like delight. Or take some out, leave some in! That’s what I always do.
The biggest benefit of using sourdough is how healthy it is. Sourdough contains ‘Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis‘ (I’m praying my spell check worked for that one!) which helps break down gluten so it’s easier to digest. Sourdough is also a good source of fiber, protein, B vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc, and magnesium.
Back in the 1940s, we didn’t understand much about gut health. It is a blessing we were eating well back then without even knowing it. These days, we’re all more or less aware that gluten-heavy foods, delicious as they are, can cause a lot of people issues. Fortunately, with this recipe, you can enjoy all the goodness of a chocolate chip cookie without any of the guilt.
Why is sourdough chewy?
The sourdough’s fermentation reaction takes place over a longer period, resulting in a large amount of acid in sourdough bread. The acidity in this dough tightens the gluten structure, making it chewier.
Is sourdough easier to digest?
For most people, sourdough is more easily digested than other doughs. Sourdough can act as a prebiotic, which means that the fiber in the bread nourishes the beneficial bacteria in your intestines. This bacteria is considered “good flora,” or bacteria that keep the digestive system healthy and balanced.
What kind of chocolate chips are best for chocolate chip cookies?
I’d say the go-to choice is semisweet chips. This includes chocolate with lower sugar-to-coca ratios (40–70% cacao percentage is common). This kind of chocolate keeps its shape well and makes for a nice balance of doughy yumminess with distinct bites of chocolate. Feel free to experiment, though!
What makes chocolate chip cookies spread out?
Cookies spread because the fat in the cookie dough melts when it’s cooked. If there isn’t enough flour to keep the melted fat inside, the cookies will over-spread. You won’t get any over-spreading with these cookies, but if you’re having problems with other recipes, try adding an extra tablespoon or two of flour to the cookie dough.
Preparation and Kitchen Equipment Needed
For this recipe, you’ll need the following kitchen equipment:
- a large mixing bowl
- baking sheet
- baking parchment
- measuring cup and measuring spoons
- stirring spoon
In addition to these items, you should have access to a mixer if you don’t want to use your hands, as well as oven mitts.
If you’re chopping your own chips from a chocolate bar like the inventors of the chocolate chip cookie did, you’ll need a sharp knife too.
You’ll want to set out your unsalted butter ahead of time so it can soften to room temperature. 30 minutes or so should be enough time. You can always chop up your butter to hurry the process. Ideally, the butter is soft enough to mix by hand.
Your egg should be room temperature as well, so go ahead and take it out of the fridge before you begin.
If you choose to let the dough chill for 15 minutes rather than longer (overnight being the longest you should wait), you can go ahead and pre-heat your oven to 350°F degrees so it’s ready to go after your dough is prepared. Just remember you’ll need to give the dough time to warm back up to room temperature before baking.
If you’ve done all this, the next thing to do is gather the rest of your ingredients. All the ingredients are listed is just below.
Sourdough Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups large chocolate chips
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup sourdough starter, unfed
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 piece egg, room temperature
- 15 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Add the softened butter and sugars into a large bowl. Your butter should be soft and easy to mix in by hand. If it's not, it'll soften up in about 30 minutes.
- Now add the egg. Stir everything together until fully the egg is fully incorporated.
- Next, stir in the vanilla extract and the sourdough starter. Then add the salt, baking soda, and flour. (Don't over-mix. You want to do the least amount of mixing necessary to achieve uniform dough. When there are no more streaks of flour in your bowl, go ahead and stop mixing.)
- Finally, add the chocolate chips and incorporate into the dough.
- The dough needs to refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. The original chocolate chip cookie recipe called for overnight chilling. The longer you let the dough refrigerate, the more firm and thoroughly hydrated your dough will be. (I have tried making them without refrigeration and they get more cake-like in texture if that's what you like.)
- Ready to bake? Take the dough out of the fridge and preheat the oven to 350°F. Make sure the dough is at room temperature before baking.
- Each cookie is 2-3tablespoons of dough. Portion them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (I use a 3 tablespoon ice cream scoop.)
- My recommended baking time is 6-8 minutes for a chewier cookie. With this recipe, just one or two extra minutes can change the cookies from chewy to cake-like, so bake accordingly.
- Now take them out and let them sit for a few minutes. It's normal if the cookies seem to be a tad wet in the center. They will continue to bake after you take them out of the oven and they'll be cooked throughout after a few minutes.