Chewy Vanilla Spice Cookies with Chocolate Chunks (Vegan, too!)

November 11, 2015

Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: This is a recipe I created for our Food52 Holiday Cookie Truck, inspired by Ovenly's Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie. I wanted a cookie that merged the benefits of a chewy chocolate chip cookie with the fragrance of a holiday spice cookie. Using their cookie base, I infused it with the scent of vanilla by grinding a whole vanilla bean into the sugar; I increased the chocolate (why not?) and chopped it so there would be a mix of shavings and chunks; and I gave it a little holiday oompf with cinnamon and ground chile. Amanda Hesser

Makes: 20 cookies


  • 2 cups (250 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (preferably Saigon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (rounded) ground chile (I used piment d'espelette)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/2 cup
    1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1/4 cup
    1 tablespoon water

  • Flaky sea salt, like Maldon, for sprinkling
In This Recipe


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, chile, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold the chocolate chunks (and all the shavings on your cutting board) into the flour mixture. Look at that -- you've barely started the recipe and you're already done with half the ingredients!
  2. In a blender, combine the vanilla bean and granulated sugar, and blend on high until the vanilla is reduced to flecks in the sugar. In another large bowl, whisk the vanilla sugar and brown sugar with the canola oil and water until you have a a smoothish liquid.
  3. Sprinkle the flour and spices onto the sugar mixture, and fold the two together with a rubber spatula until just combined.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours. As Ovenly says, do not skip this step!
  5. Heat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the fridge and use a soup spoon to scoop the dough into 2-inch mounds -- if your chocolate chunks are big, you may need to shape the mounds with your fingers. Sprinkle the dough with Maldon or other flaky salt. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes.
  6. Bake for 6 minutes, then turn the baking sheet 180 degrees, and continue baking until the edges are just beginning to toast, about 6 minutes more. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to cool completely.

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Reviews (21) Questions (1)

21 Reviews

cayt February 18, 2017
I don't have a vanilla bean on hand but would love to make these. Can i make them with vanilla extract?
Author Comment
Amanda H. February 18, 2017
Yes -- I'd use 2 teaspoons extract.
ReisTanzi December 17, 2016
This is a bit backward, but I'm all stocked up on butter for holiday baking and don't have any canola oil. Has anyone tried them with butter - maybe melted?
John C. November 19, 2016
I made these last night and thought they were great. I halved the recipe, so there wasn't enough granulated sugar and vanilla bean to meet the blade of my blender. I added the brown sugar to the blender to make up for the volume and it worked out. The cookies didn't seem ready after the first 12 minutes baking so I baked them for an extra 2 or 3 minutes. Everyone in my house enjoyed these, and I'm hoping to try the vanilla and piment d'espelette combo in other cookie recipes!
Smaug November 14, 2016
I seem to be alone in feeling that chocolate is difficult in combinations- I particularly find the combination with cinnamon off putting, and adding chunks of salt worse.
Author Comment
Amanda H. November 14, 2016
Good thing no one is forcing you to make this recipe. :) We do have lots of cookies without chocolate and/or cinnamon. Let me know if you'd like a recommendation. Happy to help!
Smaug November 14, 2016
I think I can work it out on my own, thank you. I do think that more people should do their own thinking on things like this- the "everything's great" attitude prevalent in so much of today's food writing really is not very helpful in the long run.
Becky F. December 23, 2015
I had these cookies at the market too and they were amazing! I'm making them for Christmas, and was just wondering, do you use the whole bean? or do you scoop out the seeds first?
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 23, 2015
Use the whole bean! Lots of flavor in the pod, too. I cut the pod in about 6 sections and stick them in the blender with the sugar.
Jenifer S. December 19, 2015
These are chilling can hardly wait to bake them off!
Ellen L. December 6, 2015
I was at the Food52 PopUp Market in Union Square today and sampled one of these cookies. My friend and I immediately became obsessed with them. This was one of the BEST cookies I had ever eaten. It took tremendous willpower to not go back and eat more. We hounded one of the people working there to tell us where to find the recipe. I can't wait to make these!
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 6, 2015
Thanks for stopping by the Holiday Market -- and glad you liked the cookies!
Ellen L. December 8, 2015
My first batch just came out of the oven and they are fabulous! My son said he'd prefer them with milk chocolate, which is no surprise. I was a little worried about the dough as it was kinda crumbly and I had to shape it a bit with my hands before putting on the baking sheet. I didn't have canola oil on hand and used light olive oil instead. It worked just fine. My cookies were a bit large, so I baked them and extra two minutes. Will definitely make these again!
sally December 3, 2015
This is nothing to write home about unfortunately, especially given the "fussiness" of the recipe. It is nice to have a dairy-free option though.
AntoniaJames December 4, 2015
Thanks, sally, for letting us know. I was going to make a batch as part of my big holiday baking extravaganza for neighbors and other friends nearby, but I think I'll wait until others report back on how this recipe turned out for them. ;o)
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 5, 2015
sally, are you sure you're not a disguise for Merrill? :)
Julieta F. November 29, 2015
I think the amount of water should be only 1/4 cup. I checked Ovenly's original recipe and other adaptations.
Author Comment
Amanda H. November 29, 2015
Thank you so much for this catch -- it was a typo, and not a good one! Fixing now.
Shalini November 29, 2015
This is what's been missing in my life. Will report back after making it.<br />
Author Comment
Amanda H. November 29, 2015
Please note the fix on the water amount!
AntoniaJames November 23, 2015
Whoa, I've been looking for a cookie like this for ages. Cannot wait to test drive this recipe. ;o)