I think I work in the best part of Sydney – The Rocks. Even after two years, I still feel incredibly lucky to step off the train every morning after an hour’s trip from southwest Sydney into the most beautiful part of the city. I am fascinated by the history and the well-preserved architecture, the twisty-turny laneways and the stories that would be told, if the sandstone could talk. Even though I’ve walked past it easily over a hundred times, it wasn’t until recently that I visited Hart’s Pub, sitting at the top of the hill on the corner of Essex and Gloucester Streets.
And boy oh boy, have I been missing out! Owned by the same folk behind Rocks Brewing Company, the pub is exactly the right mix of friendly heritage vibe and incredibly good food and booze, specialising in Australian craft beers. I especially like the idea of a “tasting paddle”, where you can try four different beers. Perfect if you can’t decide what you fancy! My favourites were the Rocks Brewing Co 1809 Pale Ale, and an absolutely knockout, yet deceptively alcoholic cider.
But what I really want to talk about today is chocolate chip cookie skillets. This incredible dessert was served to us with a scoop of ice cream and a Rocks Brewing Co Cribbs Porter. Now, I’m only just getting my head around food and wine matching, but food and beer matching is a whole different story altogether, especially when dessert is involved. And wow, this was the kind of dessert I couldn’t stop thinking about for weeks. When the cookie dough was cooked in a cast-iron skillet, the edges became crisp like a brownie, while the inside remained almost cake like. Of course, served warm, the chocolate chips were melty and delicious, and I think this is one of the best sharing desserts you could possibly ever have.
I decided to have a go at replicating it at home, using my favourite cookie recipe, which I’ve blogged before from the New York Times. The recipe itself is a surefire winner, containing literally half a kilogram of chocolate chips. However I’ve halved it in the recipe below, because I had enough dough for a skillet and 20-odd cookies, however no one complained. Except Denea, because she missed out. I would also slightly under-fill the skillet next time, because I ended up with a bit of overflow when the cookie rose. I didn’t leave the dough for 36 hours as the original recipe said to. Mine was in the fridge overnight, about 12 hours and it was just fine. If you’re in Sydney, Hart’s Pub should go on your list of awesome eats. Just make sure you save room for dessert.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Skillet
Inspired by Harts Pub. Adapted from the New York Times
• 240g plain flour
• 2/3 teaspoon baking soda
• ¾ teaspoon baking powder
• ¾ teaspoon coarse salt
• 140g unsalted butter, softened
• 2/3 cup brown sugar
• 112g granulated sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
• 250g bittersweet chocolate chips
• Sea salt, to sprinkle
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Whisk well, then set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, then add dry ingredients and mix until just combined. This can be messy, so hold a clean dish towel over the top of the bowl. Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly to incorporate.
Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate overnight.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Remove the bowl of cookie dough from the refrigerator and allow it to soften slightly. Grease a 20cm (8-inch) cast iron skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Press the dough into the skillet with your fingers until about 1cm from the top. Any leftovers can be baked as cookies.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown but still slightly soft. Transfer skillet to a wire rack for 10-15 minutes, and serve, being careful that the handle will still be hot.