“Sourdough” Chocolate Chip Cookies

August  1, 2018
19 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 48 hours
  • Cook time 15 minutes
  • Makes 2 Dozen Cookies
Author Notes

Whenever I’m within a two (ok, maybe four) block radius of New York’s Chelsea Market, I make an excuse to pop in to Amy’s Bread for a crusty, dark chocolate-studded sourdough twist. If I’m lucky, I can snag one still warm from the oven, gushing with bittersweet chocolate.

But I’m not always around the block from Amy’s, and I wanted (needed) a faster fix. The problem? I don’t bake bread.

I like baking confections of all kinds—cakes, cookies, blondies —but I leave bread to the pros. Between the proofing, punching, kneading, and rising, it’s all just a little too much for my skill level. Instead, I decided to translate the sweet-tangy flavors into something I love to bake (and eat!) more than anything else: chocolate chip cookies.

One thing I know about bread baking is that you need a quality sourdough starter, a fermented mixture of water and flour used to leaven bread. Most starters take weeks to get just right, but to keep it simple, I came up with a solution, a "faux" sourdough starter. This imposter starter isn’t fermented enough to make a loaf of crusty bread, but we are just making cookies here. After two days, it’s got enough of a subtle sour flavor to give the cookie that pungent sourdough punch I’m looking for.

Making this starter is simple. Mix together some flour with some warm tap water in a large glass jar. Place the lid or kitchen towel on top, leaving it slightly ajar so the starter can breathe. Let it work its magic for two days in a cool, dark place, like a cupboard. The mixture won’t look any different until day two, when it will start to form big bubbles and nearly double in size.

To enhance the sourness, I use rye flour, which has more microorganisms and ferments more quickly than all-purpose flour. (Thanks to The Perfect Loaf for this helpful tip!) To up the tanginess even more, I replaced the vanilla extract typically found in a chocolate chip cookie recipe with distilled white vinegar. It adds a sour flavor and tender bite.

The cookie dough is a bit sticky, so I like to use a medium cookie scoop when portioning out the dough. It makes a cookie that’s about 3-inches once it’s baked and gives the perfect balance of crunchy golden-brown edges with a doughy molten center. When the cookies come out of the oven, I like to top with a little flaky sea salt for a savory finish.

The incredibly rich, ultra-addictive cookies won’t last long. In fact, after throwing your sheet in the oven, you may want to start growing another sourdough starter for the next batch. —Grant Melton

What You'll Need
  • 1/2 cup dark rye flour
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 10-ounce bag dark chocolate chips
  • Flaky sea salt, for topping
  1. Place the warm water and dark rye flour into a 16-ounce glass jar and, using a fork, mix well to combine until a little sticky dough ball has formed. Once combined, place a lid on top of the jar but do not tighten. The dough may look a bit small for the jar but, it’ll need some room to grow. Leave the jar in a cool, dark place with a fairly constant temperature for two days. After day one, the mixture will look fairly similar what it looked like on the previous day. By day two, the dough should nearly double in size, have many large bubbles throughout and a pungent, sour scent. Once you’ve made your “starter,” you’re ready to make the cookie dough.
  2. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  4. Add the butter and all of the “sourdough starter” mixture into a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. On a low speed, mix the softened butter with the sourdough until combined. Next, add in both sugars and cream together. Add in the egg and mix for a minute more. The mixture should look a bit more loose compared to most cookie doughs, that’s fine. Add in the vinegar and then the dry mixture little at a time until fully combined. Once a light, fluffy dough has formed, add in the chocolate chips and mix by hand with a rubber spatula.
  5. Using a one-ounce sized scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet tray, leaving a few inches between each cookie. Bake for 6 minutes, rotate the cookie sheet, and bake for 6 minutes more. Remove from oven and top with a pinch of flaky salt. Repeat with the rest of the cookie dough, or freeze the cookie dough balls to bake later.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Yoojin Lee
    Yoojin Lee
  • PhillipBrandon
  • Hungry Haley
    Hungry Haley
  • Paola
  • Grant Melton
    Grant Melton

10 Reviews

corgoloafs April 21, 2020
I used my own active starter discard for this and they came out on the cakier side. Pretty good overall, I would make these again.
Tortoise April 10, 2020
Sour dough doesn’t improve your basic chocolate chip recipe. This isn’t a recipe that I would make again
Yoojin L. October 2, 2018
Love how the sourdough tanginess balances with the sweet! YUM.
PhillipBrandon October 2, 2018
For those of us with active starters, how much starter, and at what point in feeding would you use for this recipe?
Paola October 5, 2018
I’m planning on using up some discard starter at the next feeding, seeing as the main purpose is flavour...discard will have plenty!!
Grant M. October 5, 2018
I'm not super familiar with sourdough starters but in this case the "starter" is mainly used for flavor. I would saying using 1 cup of the starter (or starter discard) would be sufficient. If you try it out, let me know how it works!
Paola October 7, 2018
My starter is not the most “loved”, so I used what was salvageable of discard after getting rid of the hooch. I had just over 3/4 cup to use. I reduced the other ingredients, as possible, to get the consistency you describe for the dough. Cookies are cooling now...but the edge I sneaked myself while transferring from tray to wire rack was mighty good! I will be adding these to my rotation of “discard” recipes 😊
regan May 7, 2022
Hi - I used discard starter and used the exact same amount that your rye and flour would make which is 120 g (which is only about a 1/4 cup, much less than 1 cup). These came out VERY cake like and would like a more chewy cookie. I'll let you know if I figure out how to do that!
Hungry H. October 2, 2018
Looks great! Can whole-wheat pastry flour be used in place of rye?
Grant M. October 5, 2018
Yes! It may be slightly less "sour" but it will work! PS I love whole wheat pastry flour for cookies! Enjoy.