How to Turn a Giant, Melty Cookie into a Dinner Party Dessert

December  4, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun. This post is brought to you by our friends at Ghirardelli -- try their 60% cacao chips in a skillet cookie this holiday season.

Today: Our favorite dinner party dessert isn't a classy panna cotta or a demure tart. It's a batch of cookies baked into a skillet, gooey and warm and topped with heaps of ice cream. Here's how to do it.

Skillet Cookie

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There are two basic ways to pull off a successful, memorable dinner party.

The first includes hors d'oeuvre, multiple plated courses, a house cocktail and sparkling wine and a few good bottles on the table for the main event, plus a sleek dessert that's just enough to satisfy your guests without foisting a belly ache upon their commute home. Your hair is perfectly coiffed the entire time and you get no food on your wrinkle-free outfit and your smooth jazz playlist puts everyone in just the right mood.

The second includes yelling and guffawing and arms reaching across tables. It is messier and wilder and louder, and better resembles a pack of hyenas congregating than a buttoned-up party of six sitting around a perfectly set table. You might not even have a table. Someone might unbutton their pants before their second helping of dessert.

Cookie Ingredients

If you are the sort of person who chooses door number two here, you'll be wise to bake your favorite cookie recipe in a skillet at your next party, then set it out on the table, hot and molten inside, for dessert. Flank it with a few pints of ice cream and a pile of spoons. Watch your human guests turn into rabid, cookie-hungry animals. It will be the most fun you've had in a long while.

Here's how to do it:

Skillet COokie

First, make a batch of your favorite cookie dough. We recommend chocolate chip here -- it's a crowd favorite, it's excellent when underbaked, and everyone gets a few molten chocolate pieces in each spoonful. Our go-to recipe comes from Phyllis Grant, but use your favorite; be sure to pick something with chocolate chips or chunks aplenty. Spread it into a skillet or a braiser -- cast iron will develop more of a crust whereas something enameled (like this Le Creuset braiser) will give you a more standard cookie bottom.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.....or until you're ready to eat. We first tried this at a dinner party thrown by Brette Warshaw, where she baked the cookie for just 20 minutes, pulled it out because we couldn't wait any longer, and piled on a bunch of vanilla ice cream -- similar to what you see here. The center wasn't exactly what you'd call cooked, but nobody was mad about it. If you like a fully-baked cookie, keep yours in there for 25 to 30 minutes.

Skillet Cookie  Skillet Cookie

While the cookie is still warm, scoop a bunch of ice cream on top of it. Again, vanilla is the classic choice here, but go with whatever you like, or whatever you have on hand. Just don't try to be too fancy about it.

Hand everybody a spoon, and make sure you have napkins at the ready, or at least a few rolls of paper towels. Let them go at it; what happens next is a sort of spectacle that you're only used to seeing on Black Friday or on those TV shows where a bunch of frantic brides get let loose at a wedding dress sample sale.

Skillet Cookie

Your ice cream will quickly begin to melt into your cookie, and then into the little divots that result from feverish scooping. 

Skillet Cookie

Your guests will go bonkers insane. There will be giggles and yelps and groans and the spoons will be moving very quickly. The weakest among you will give up, but the strong will persevere. Remember that you are all in this together.

Skillet Cookie

Once you've had enough, and everyone is laying on the floor and rubbing their bellies, remember two things: 

1. This is a good time to bring out that bottle of amaro you might have lying around.

2. Leftovers freeze beautifully, especially when molten -- the gooey bits become fudgy in the freezer. Pass out little to-go containers as party favors, and do the dishes tomorrow. You've done enough.

Skillet cookie photos by James Ransom; ingredient photo by Bobbi Lin

Get more chocolatey small bites recipes to share with friends and family this holiday season from Ghirardelli.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

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Marian Bull

Written by: Marian Bull



Julia C. April 17, 2016
With summer just around the corner, this would be a great dessert for an informal dinner centered around grilling. I think maybe I'd cook the cookie ahead in a ceramic baking dish beforehand (when it's cooler outside) and reheat it in a toaster oven to keep it crispy without heating up the kitchen. Somehow it re Indus me of lazier, Margarita and strawberry daquari nights eating and laughing on the patio!
Megan M. April 5, 2016
Sorry, just to clarify since the braisier you used seemed to work really well, were you using the Le Creuset 3.75 qt size braisier? Thanks!
Sarah K. November 14, 2015
May I ask ... what is the white stuff I see on the uncooked dough in the photo? Flaked sea salt? It's not called for in the recipe you say you used. Thank you!
Sarah K. November 14, 2015
What is the white stuff I see on the photo of the uncooked pan? Sea salt flakes? As you can tell, I'm already plotting when to try this one. Thanks!
Kimberly January 30, 2015
So has anyone tried to make this in advance? I'm planning on several hours and it will be coming directly from the refrigerator. Maybe add 10 minutes or so?
GourMel July 20, 2015
How did it turn out? I'm thinking about making this 1-2 days before a dinner I'm serving. Should I freeze it, defrost, and bake?
petrini.elisa December 23, 2014
i',m making this for christmas! do you grease the braiser? use parchment on the bottom? or just pat the dough into it?
Marian B. January 3, 2015
Sorry for missing this! I don't grease it -- just like you don't need to grease cookie sheets when you make chocolate chip cookies. Did you give it a try?
Jacqui December 22, 2014
I've done this before but served it in individual dishes. To make it that much more over the top, drizzle warm caramel sauce on the ice cream. It's roll your eyes back in your head good.
seth10597 December 11, 2014
So you put the Le Creuset in the oven? what temp?
Marian B. December 14, 2014
It depends on your recipe, but we baked these at 350° F!
Mallory S. December 8, 2014
What size/kind of skillet do you recommend for this?
Marian B. December 14, 2014
This braiser is 11 inches wide, but I think anything in that ballpark should work!
Krissy C. December 8, 2014
This was a fantastic idea! Though I decided to go the ramekin route, because not all my guests were close friends/family. As soon as I placed them on the table, asked everyone to poke a hole in the top with a spoon so I could top each one with ice cream, everyone just stopped talking. They were amazing. Went with my mom's basic chocolate chip cookie dough recipe, buttered and filled each ramekin 2/3 full, chilled in the fridge for 3 hours, then baked until puffed and golden (375 degrees for 20 minutes). This was so simple and so so good! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this genius I am thinking I must try this with other cookie dough, perhaps peanut butter.
Marian B. December 14, 2014
So happy you enjoyed it!
Kris May 1, 2015
I was just planning to ask if this works in ramekins :)
Violet December 5, 2014
not good during cold and flu season. actually, I don't think I'd like this one pot sharing at anytime. However, it looks delish. I would dish it out though.
BR95510 December 7, 2014
I fully agree. And then saving any leftovers? Laced with enzymes? There is a "bleugh" factor for me. I wonder if one could use individual Ramekins and come up with something very similar. ??
henandchicks September 29, 2015
I'm so glad not to be the only one thinking, "looks tasty, but also sort of germy and yucky." There are adorable mini cast iron pans, but whats to keep us from just spooning the portions onto plates?
Meg December 5, 2014
Love this!! What is the dimension of the braiser in the photo?
Marian B. December 14, 2014
It's 11 inches in diameter!
Kerry December 4, 2014
Bake this in my Le Creuset and then let the guests scratch the bottom with their spoons?? Nooooo!
Marian B. December 14, 2014
You can serve it in bowls, too!
pjs July 31, 2015
so you opt for door number 1, i'm guessing...
kpeck December 4, 2014
yum times a million! i just wish Ghirardelli offered gluten-free chocolate chips...
Cynthia C. December 4, 2014
Marian, your writing makes the world go round. (This melty cookie insanity also helps.)
Marian B. December 4, 2014
CYNTHIA. you're too kind. let's eat some cookies together. preferably underbaked and ginormous.
sweetE December 4, 2014
Finally! My excuse to get a LeCreuset braiser!! Oh Santa.....
Marian B. December 4, 2014
It's good for SO MANY things! Very high on my list, too.
Kristen M. December 4, 2014
In case anyone is worried about how much we really liked this giant cookie, see behind the scenes:
AntoniaJames December 4, 2014
I'm getting a serious sugar buzz just looking at that instagram photo. I'd be as big as a barn if I worked there. Goodness. ;o)
Brette W. December 4, 2014
Marian B. December 4, 2014
you're my cookie muse!
Julie M. December 4, 2014
Thinking about doing this for breakfast.
Marian B. December 4, 2014
you're a smart woman.
Sarah J. December 2, 2014
...and after you finish eating it, do the exact same thing with a pan of brownies.