How do you improve upon the most tried-and-true recipe in the baking book? Start by throwing it in a cast-iron skillet, then scorch it under 750 degrees of wood-fired heat. That’s the approach to chocolate chip cookies at Ned Ludd, Northeast Portland’s rustic house of campfire cooking and locavore zeal, where chef Jason French crisps whole trout, smokes whey-brined pork loin, and singes cookies within an inch of life. The beauty of the skillet-bound dessert, explains French, lies in cast iron’s thick, protective armor: while the outer edges of the plus-size cookie caramelize and char, the epicenter remains molten and gooey.
Ned Ludd’s Skillet Cookie
Makes one 10-inch cookie*
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup white sugar
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup 75-percent-cacao dark chocolate wafers**
- Flake salt for finishing
- 10-inch cast-iron skillet
MAKE THE DOUGH: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl whisk together flour and baking soda, and set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until well combined, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, salt, and vanilla extract, and continue beating until combined. Add flour-soda combo and mix until just incorporated. Using a spatula, fold in chocolate wafers.
BAKE THE COOKIE: Flatten the dough inside a 10-inch skillet. Bake for around 30 minutes, or until the center is just set. To simulate Ned Ludd’s blackened, bitter crust, turn the broiler on and cook a minute or two longer, taking care not to burn the top completely. Remove from oven and sprinkle with flake salt. Serve with a small glass of milk, or pour milk right over the top while the cookie’s still hot and watch it sizzle.
*Cookie dough recipe adapted from Joy of Cooking
**Larger and flatter than chocolate chips, high- quality chocolate wafers or “pistoles” (try Valrhona or Guittard brands) yield a velvety, “meltier” texture when baked. Wafers can be found at World Foods, Sheridan Fruit Company, and some supermarkets.