With crispy edges and soft, chewy centers, and studded with chunks of crunchy pistachios, pools of molten chocolate, and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt on top, these pistachio and chocolate chunk cookies are a step above the rest.
Pistachio flour and pistachio extract amp up the pistachio flavor even more and give the cookies a slightly green hue. They’re not your grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, that’s for sure, but I have a feeling grandma would be totally on board with fancied-up chocolate chip cookies like these.
I still had some pistachio flour left from my most recent pistachio experiments (to say I went through a bit of a pistachio phase would be an understatement, and honestly? Can you really call if a phase if it never really ended?) I figured I’d use it to step up my chocolate chip cookie game, upgrading your standard CCC into something truly grand.
The pistachio flour gives the cookies a slight green hue (which, when photographed, translates into something like white balance purgatory, eesh). Obviously, this tint will be more apparent the greener your pistachio flour is (the color can vary greatly from brand to brand). I used pistachio flour from Nuts.com, but you can also find it on Amazon.
Pistachio is itself a rather subtle flavor. To make it stand out a bit more, I added a bit of pistachio extract, though this is optional and you can certainly skip it (that said, pistachio extract is rather lovely, like a more refined almond, and I’m often tempted to use it in just about everything).
You can also use almond flour here, it’s roughly the same consistency though slightly less oily, and will give you similar looking cookies. Definitely don’t skip the pistachio extract though, unless, of course, you’re going for almond flavor instead of pistachio (which honestly sounds pretty darn amazing too and this recipe would be a great jumping off point in that case). Or hey, what about hazelnut flour? Count me in.
I paired the nutty, buttery flavor of pistachio with bittersweet dark chocolate. The darker the better, I say (I used a mix of a 66% as well as a chopped up bar of 85%, and, well, you can imagine just how good the results were). With a pinch of flaky sea salt on top to make the flavors sing, these cookies are show stoppers in ever sense of the phrase.
As I’ve mentioned in previous pistachio recipes, the greenest pistachios come from shell-on nuts. Blanching them will make them even greener (though that step is not necessary for this recipe). I’ve yet to find any pre-shelled pistachios that are vibrant and green, so I usually sacrifice my fingers to peel my own for the sake of aesthetics. But hey, you do you. At the very least, pick out the prettiest green nuts to save for the tops, the rest of them really won’t show much under all that chocolate and dough.
Spread Your Wings
This cookie recipe is designed to spread a bit more than you might be used to. Personally, I like this attribute in my cookies, a thinner cookie results in a chewier center and delightfully crispy edges. And as an added bonus, the more uniform thickness makes them ideal for ice cream sandwiches (just saying).
Cookies that spread like this do tend to look a hot mess when they first come out of the oven, but remember the cookie cutter trick: by swirling a large round cookie cutter around the freshly baked cookie, you can tuck in the uneven bits, creating a perfectly round cookie with lovely ruffled edges. For this reason (so you have room to swirl), I recommend only baking 6 or so cookies at a time, leaving ample space between cookies and between the cookies and the edges of the cookie sheet.
If you’re wondering why your cookies spread more or less than mine did, there are a few reasons why that may be.
Choose your chocolate.
Using chocolate chips instead of chunks of chopped up chocolate or chocolate coverture will result in puffier cookies, as chips will retain their shape throughout baking; non-chip chocolate, like a chocolate bar that’s been cut up into chunks, will melt and flow as it bakes, resulting in cookies that are thinner and less puffy, with puddles of dark chocolate oozing out.
Using high quality chocolate really makes a difference in the taste and appearance of these cookies. If you’re shopping for chocolate at the grocery store, I recommend skipping the baking aisle entirely. Instead, head to the candy section where you will find bars of high quality dark chocolate. Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Lovers Bar is one of my favorites for baking, with a bright and fruity flavor that melts beautifully when chopped up in cookies like this. I also love using Valrhona feves in cookies; any of the 60-80% varieties will work well here and the quality is superb. Using a whole or half feve on top is guaranteed to give you a picture-perfect puddle.
Flour is the other main factor, even more so than dough temperature, in determining how much a cookie will spread. More flour means more structure and less spreading, but also slightly drier cookies. Recipes like this one are very sensitive to the amount of flour, an extra 10g (about a tablespoon) can make a huge difference. For this reason I highly recommend weighing your flour. If you find your cookies are coming out much thicker and puffier than mine are, chances are you may have over-measured your flour.
Using pistachio flour will give the cookies more structure than finely ground nuts; most home food processors or blenders cannot achieve as fine a texture when grinding nuts. You also have to be careful to grind them fine but not so much that it turns to pistachio butter. You can add an extra tablespoon or two of flour to the nuts to help keep them dry and powdery. Grinding your own nuts will result in a slightly coarser texture and a bit more uneven spread; if you find they are spreading too much for your liking, chill them for a little bit longer.
Different cookie sheets will produce different results. Lighter colored sheets will have less browning on the bottom, while darker nonstick cookie sheets will brown the bottoms more quickly (you’ll likely need to bake them on the lower end of the range). Thinner cookie sheets will cook more quickly and potentially unevenly than more insulated, heavier weight ones.
I personally use heavy weight, light colored cookie sheets (King Arthur’s cookie sheets are my favorites) lined with parchment paper.
I recommend baking off a few test cookies to see how they look, and based on those you can make adjustments as necessary (chill the dough more, for instance, or try a different cookie sheet).
To achieve the gorgeous puddles of chocolate on top of the cookies, you’ll need to place some chunks of chocolate on top of the ball of dough. I really piled it on there along with some more chopped pistachios (I picked out the greenest ones to use on top because I’m particular like that) and a pinch of flake sea salt.
As the cookies bake, the bits on top will spread with the cookie as it bakes, resulting in these gorgeous pools of melted chocolate studded with green pistachios and sparkles of flaky sea salt.
Did someone say, ice cream?
Also, I shouldn’t have to tell you that these cookies make for fabulous ice cream sandwiches. Whether you stick with vanilla or go all-in on the pistachio and sandwich a scoop of my ultimate pistachio lover’s gelato in there, you’re in for a real treat either way.
Pro Tip: since you’ve softened the ice cream anyway, go ahead and make up a few extra sandwiches and stash them in a freezer (I stack them in a plastic deli soup container) for the ultimate grab-and-go treat. Your future self will thank you.
Salted Pistachio & Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- 1 cup / 130 g all-purpose flour
- ½ cup / 52 g pistachio flour, or very finely ground pistachios
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup / 113 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅔ cup / 140 g packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup / 50 g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon pistachio extract, optional
- ½ cup / 70 g dark chocolate chunks, plus more for topping
- ½ cup / 65 g coarsely chopped shelled pistachios, plus more for topping
- flake sea salt, for topping
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, pistachio flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter with sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add egg and beat on high speed for 30-60 seconds until smooth. Mix in honey and vanilla.
- Dump in dry ingredients and mix on low speed until almost incorporated. Add pistachios and chopped chocolate (reserve some for topping, if desired), and fold until evenly distributed.
- Cover and chill for 20 to 30 minutes; the colder the dough, the less it will spread, so chill according to your personal preferences. If your kitchen is on the cool side, you may be able to bake it straight away without chilling. I recommend baking a test cookie or two and see how they look, then chill more if/as necessary.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a heavyweight baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop dough into balls (I use a medium #40 cookie scoop which is just under 2 tablespoons of dough) and place on cookie sheet with 2 to 3 inches of space between cookies to allow for spreading. If desired, press a few chunks of chocolate and some pistachios into the top of each dough ball for a prettier baked cookie. Sprinkle with flake sea salt.
- Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until tops are puffed and edges are golden brown. Immediately after removing from the oven, swirl a large round cookie cutter around the warm cookies, tucking in the uneven edges to create perfectly circular cookies. Let cool on cookie sheets for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Enjoy warm, or store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Or, better yet, sandwich a scoop of vanilla or pistachio ice cream between two cookies. Wrap in plastic wrap or waxed paper and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.