Everyone has their recipe for making the best chocolate chip cake, and for 2022’s F&W the Best Fresh Chef Warda Bouguettaya, its rich, nutty crumbles of the halvah (which is what the chef refers to as”halwah”) and incorporated into the dough. Although halvah is delicious as a stand-alone dessert, this recipe gives the classic chocolate chip cookie an earthy and toasty flavor.
“I am a sucker for sesame seeds and chocolate together. One of the first cookies I baked when I was growing in Algeria was an old-fashioned batch of non-bake sesame cookies with sesame seeds that I made into balls and then dipped into chocolate,” notes Bouguettaya. “When I discovered the doors of my Detroit baker, Warda Patisserie, I needed something a bit different to go with the chocolate chip cookie that is a staple. I resorted to sesame seeds, however, this time with the help of halves.”
She cuts the halvah into small pieces to make the cookies that Bouguettaya bakes. She then gently folds it into the dough by hand, ensuring evenly distributed pockets of melty, smooth halvah within every cookie. They emerge with the perfect chewy center, crisp edges, and just enough gooeyness.
The notes of The Food & Wine Test Kitchen
If you’re breaking them up and measuring halvah, make the pieces large to get an even distribution across each cookie. When you’ve folded the details in the dough and scooped out the cookies, they’ll continue to break down into smaller pieces.
Chocolate fives, sometimes called discs, can dramatically expand when baked, forming melty puddles. Cut chocolate bars will create more minor but equally delicious pools.
- 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (about 11 3/8 ounces)
- One teaspoon of kosher salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (6 ounces), melted and cooled
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- Two large eggs at room temperature
- 4 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (62% cacao) fives or bar (such as Valrhona), roughly chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 1/2 ounces plain halvah (such as Al Kanater Halawa Plain), broken into bite-size pieces (about 3/4 cup)
- Three tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish
- Bake at 350°F. Two baking sheets should be lined with parchment paper. Mix flour, salt, kosher baking powder, and baking soda in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
- Mix brown sugar, butter that has been melted, and granulated sugar with a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at medium speed until it becomes thick, smooth, and mixed, approximately 30 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating until mixed, then stopping and scraping the sides and the bottom of the bowl if needed, about 15 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low; slowly beat in the flour mixture until a few flour streaks remain, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Mix in the pieces of chopped chocolate, the halvah, and the sesame seeds using a spatula to ensure they are equally spread. Wrap the bowl in plastic wrap and chill until the dough is set, approximately 1 hour.
- Scoop the dough with an ice cream scoop (about 2 inches wide) and then place it at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven using a baking pan for a moment to golden edges, and the centers are soft and ready to set for about 12-14 minutes. Sprinkle cookies immediately with and cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies onto a rack on the wire to cool completely, approximately 30 minutes.