These chicharrón chocolate chip cookies are soft, chewy, homemade chocolate chip cookies made with—believe it or not—pork rinds. And they’re magnificent beyond words.
These chicharrón chocolate chip cookies make perfect sense to those of us who have a thing for salty and sweet. And, of course, to those of us who have a thing for pork. Contrary to common belief, the fried pork skins don’t actually create an astoundingly crunchy component in the cookie. They actually turn somewhat tender and chewy when baked into the buttery cookie dough. In our experience, folks either really like it or really don’t. We, obviously, count ourselves among the former group, so much so that life took on new meaning after trying these. We think you’ll understand.–Renee Schettler
Chicharrón Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 7 ounces dark chocolate (at least 70%) chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1 cup crumbled chicharrón* (aka pork rinds)
- In a smallish bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- With a standing mixer on medium-high speed, beat together the eggs, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar until light and fluffy and about double in volume, about 3 minutes. Lower the speed, dump in the butter and vanilla, and beat until well combined.
- Stop the stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined. Gently stir in the chocolate and chicharrón. Be careful not to overmix the dough.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge until it's firm, at least 2 hours and, ideally, overnight. The cookies taste best if you chill the dough overnight—the resting time allows the dough to develop more flavor.
- When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Drop the cookies by mounded tablespoonfuls onto the parchment paper, spacing the dough blobs about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges just start to brown and the middles are still soft.
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. They’ll keep for 4 days in an airtight container.
What kind of chicharrón should I buy?You can find fresh homemade chicharrón at most Mexican markets. If you're given the choice between airy, thin pork rinds and thick, meaty pork rinds that are ever so slightly curled at the edges, opt for the former. The purpose of putting pork rinds in these cookies is just to amp up the flavor, with a smoky and salty oomph. Having said that, the commercial brands of chicharrón will also work just fine in this recipe. (Lesley Téllez prefers Baken-Ets brand, which you'll find at most grocery stores.) The easiest way to crumble chicharrón, simply toss them in a resealable plastic bag and bang on it with a rolling pin or a cast-iron skillet.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
This is a chocolate chip cookie with crunchy bits. In one word—delish! Truth be told, I had never eaten chicharrón before, but I was intrigued by the combination, and really, how can you go wrong with pork and chocolate? You can't!
I managed to find "homemade" chicharrón from an international food purveyor who makes them daily. A total score! I had to pick through the batch to get the lighter ones as mentioned in the recipe, though I did allow some of the "meaty" ones to get through. My advice is to stick to the thinner, lighter chicharrón, as they produce a wonderful crumbly crunch while the meatier ones provide more of a chewy bite. I much preferred the crunch rather than the chew. To get the crackle to crumble, I just placed the chicharrón in a bag and used a rolling pin to produce an array of crumble sizes, but mostly the crumble was on the smaller side.
I have to admit that when I started tasting the cookie dough before dropping it onto the baking sheet, I found it hard to stop. The sweetness of the dough with the dark rich chocolate combined with the salty crunch of the chicharrón almost had me inhale the whole batch before baking. Well, after baking, the added delight is the juxtaposition of the melted chocolate against the crunchy crumble of the chicharrón. A winner!
This savory combination produced a nice chocolate chip cookie with a bit more complexity—and I suspect a more subtle backbone of spicy meatiness than you might get from using actual bacon in a cookie. The smokiness and spice came through to complement the chocolate (the chicharrónes I found were spicy little “crispity clouds of porkaliciousness,” claimed the modest package).
With a little planning ahead, this recipe does most of the work while aging in the refrigerator. I used a combination of chocolate, mostly 90% and 70%, and a small bit of 45%, and after breaking it up into largish chunks, I pulsed it in the food processor with a teaspoon or two of the flour to help keep the chopped pieces separate as they got smaller. I also thought the mixture of cocoa intensity would be well distributed that way, working much more quickly than hand chopping, and not heating up or melting the chocolate by handling it too much.
I found chile-seasoned chicharrónes and a 1-ounce (28-gram) package yielded just about 1 cup after I crumbled it by putting it in a heavy resealable plastic bag and smashing it evenly with a wooden rolling pin. They were fresh and had a nice spicy and smoky taste and smell. I tried to crush the chicharrón as small and evenly as possible, and I was glad to have done so because, after baking, any larger bits of chicharrón were noticeably crunchy. After the batter is completely mixed (with the chocolate and chicharrónes added in), it is actually fairly stiff. After 8 hours in the refrigerator, it was very stiff and took a bit of effort to scoop. I used a 1-tablespoon scoop.
They baked for the full 12 minutes, and once cooled, we willingly sampled them. I think they were interesting, especially with the smoky depth the chicharrón gave the chocolate, and although we seldom have cookies, this is a good recipe for tasty ones. While I won’t be able to share these with my vegetarian friends and family, I think they are a nice cookie to have in your arsenal, and I'll probably bake several small batches over the next few days now that the dough is ready and all I need to do is turn on the oven. I might like it a bit less sweet but would hesitate to reduce the sugar since it also would change the cookie. This is a nice “just a few bites” kind of sweet and spicy to go with a cup of coffee or after dinner with spirits. If your chicharrónes don't have spiciness, I might consider adding a tiny amount of chile, because that was part of what made it so good. I used kettle-cooked chicharrónes from 4505 Meats in San Francisco.
Originally published January 27, 2016