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Open your cupboard cabinets and your pantry doors. Rummage around in there, behind the bottles of balsamic vinegar and cans of chickpeas and boxes of lasagna noodles, to the neglected cans and jars section. We buy these jars for a single recipe, then forget about them. Sweetened condensed milk falls squarely in this category.
Growing up, we usually had a can or two of condensed milk hanging around. I don't remember what we used it for: Key lime pie? Fudge? Last summer, I discovered that it makes a killer no-churn ice cream base, so I've been stocking up on cans in my kitchen.
With today's recipe, you've got another excellent use for it. It turns out that sweetened condensed milk makes a fantastic binder for cookie dough. This makes sense: It adds both sweetness and fat, taking the place of the butter and sugar in a traditional cookie recipe. Best of all, it speeds up the entire process, as you can skip the creaming step and just mix everything together in one bowl.
The stovetop step of this recipe is a little unusual, but pretty fun to execute. You begin by melting together chocolate with a can of sweetened condensed milk and a little butter in a saucepan. (I used a mix of semi-sweet, bittersweet, and white chocolate chips because it's what I had on hand, but you should feel free to use any type depending on how sweet or intense you want your cookies to be.)
Once the chocolate has melted, you just turn off the heat, toss in the rest of your ingredients (the usual suspects: flour, an egg, baking soda, and so on), and stir, stir, stir! The dough will come together quickly and will be warm to the touch. Just let it chill in the refrigerator for a bit, and then roll it into three long logs. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and chill until firm (or freeze briefly if you're in a rush to eat dessert!).
Then you slice and bake the logs for 12 minutes. The resulting cookies are nicely crisp on the edges and chewy in the center. Rich and fudgy, they're delicious dunked in a glass of milk. I like to add chopped nuts and cacao nibs to my dough for some texture. You can do the same, or leave them out, or even add in some more chopped chocolate once the dough is cool if you want to take them over the top.
If you can resist the allure of warm cookies, or if you want to have cookie dough at the ready for any emergency (of the dessert variety), you can store the logs of dough—tightly wrapped—in the freezer for up to a month. Just thaw them until they are soft enough to slice and bake from there.
Oh, and did I mention this means you don't need to remember to soften any butter beforehand? If that's not a gift from the dessert gods, I don't know what is!
- 2 1/2 cups (18 ounces) chocolate chips
- 14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
- 3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) butter
- 2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional, for enhanced chocolate flavor)
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) chopped toasted nuts (optional)
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) cacao nibs (optional)