Margaret's Cookies

Basically the fastest way to reach nirvana

I have a confession to make, I cannot bake cookies to save my life. I have tackled with success endless baking challenges, yet simple chocolate chip cookies seem like an insurmountable task. They always end up looking like sad, shapeless, overinflated domes. I have tried countless recipes, put less flour, more butter, changed the baking powder and baking soda ratio, nothing.  So, after about 15 years of failed attempts, I decided to leave the job to people who can. Like Margaret.

I met Margaret about 5 years ago, she had just arrived to Berlin from her native California. She is a beautiful tall redhead, with a gigantic smile, glamorous style and she is unapologetically “so American”. I loved her instantly. She is basically a younger, sexier version of Martha Stewart. She always looks beautifully put together, always has the perfect tableware, the perfect flower arrangement and she bakes wonderfully. Her cookies are possibly the best I ever tasted and this recipe was the first one I had in mind when I thought of the “Stolen Recipe” section. They are crispy on the edges, chewy in the center, the chocolate chips are actually chocolate chunks so each bite is a perfectly generous and balanced.  They are basically the fastest way to reach nirvana.

Hopefully you will be more successful than me at making them. When I tested the recipe with her, she made the dough, we split it in two and made the cookie balls individually. After baking, mine looked like little turds (pretty tasty little turds, but still) but hers looked like the perfection that they are. So enjoy and invite me over next time you decide to make them.



"I have a confession to make, I cannot bake cookies to save my life."


  • 150g butter
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 lemon
  • 230g flour - ideally half whole wheat and half white
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 100g granulated sugar
  • 140g light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 200g dark chocolate, I use semi sweet baking chocolate
  • Fleur de Sel for garnishing
  • Heat a small saucepan on medium low heat. I have an induction stove so I usually use 3 or 4 as a setting. Add the butter to the pan and let it slowly melt. While it's melting cut thick slices of the lemon rind (usually 3 or 4 per lemon) and add it to the melting butter. Then take the vanilla bean, slicing it lengthwise, and remove the vanilla seeds and add them to the saucepan. Leave it on the heat, stirring occasionally until the butter is fully melted and has begun to bubble and foam - turning a more golden brown. Remove it from heat and with a fork remove the lemon peel. Set it aside to cool off - I like to give it at least 8 minutes.
  • While the butter cools, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and brown and white sugars) in either a large bowl or a KitchenAid - whatever you've got works! Once it's mixed together pour in the butter and mix together until the flour is fully coated and the mixture looks like wet sand. Add the egg and mix again until the mixture is more doughy. Roughly chop the chocolate - I say the bigger the chunks the better! Add them to the dough - no need to overmix, just work them in so they are evenly distributed.
  • Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an ice cream scoop or a large spoon, scoop the cookies onto the tray. I really aim here to make sure that they are evenly sized so they cook at the same rate. I also make sure that there is enough chocolate chunks per cookie - nothing worse than a bite with NO CHOCOLATE. Make sure they are spaced well enough apart as they will spread during the baking process. Once you've laid them out, give each one a press down with something flat, I usually just use the palm of my hand. Then refrigerate the sheet for at least an hour or two, but ideally overnight. The longer the better.
  • When you're ready to bake preheat the oven to 200 degrees C. Lightly sprinkle the Fleur de Sel over each cookie and then pop them in the oven for 8-12 minutes, depending on how gooey you like them.
  • I usually pull them out when the edges are nicely browned and the center is golden but not over done. Once you've pulled them out of the oven take a flat surface(I usually use an empty jar) and gently press down each cookie. This makes them nice and dense, but you're welcome to skip this step! Once they've cooled for a minute, transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. Or just start eating them immediately.


Solynka Dumas


Margaret Trainor

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