These delicious high altitude chocolate chip cookies are wonderful hot out of the oven when the chocolate is still melted, and somehow even better once they cool!
The distinctive molasses flavor from the brown sugar, along with the vanilla, makes for a comforting and nostalgic treat.
These cookies go wonderfully with a cold glass of milk (even dairy-free if you prefer – see the vegan adaptation notes below).
You could even say they go swimmingly dunked in the milk!
Are these cookies soft or crispy in texture?
These are soft, dense, more cake-like cookies. They have some substance and heft, and are not the thin and crispy kind.
In fact, if you have a recipe that is not adapted for high altitude, you may end up with a texture closer to the crispy kind.
However, you run the risk of ending up with one giant slab of cookie covering the entire baking sheet (otherwise known as a cookie pizza).
What is considered high altitude?
Generally, anyone living above 3,500 feet above sea level may want to take altitude into account when baking.
If you are at or slightly below this threshold, you still may see some impact on your baking. The Colorado State University Extension Office recommends making adjustments for high altitude at or above 3,000 feet in elevation. You can read their tips here.
What adaptations do I need to make for high altitude baking?
This recipe is already adapted for altitude.
However, if you have another recipe that works well at lower elevations, here is a brief overview.
High altitude often makes baked goods rise faster, which can lead to their subsequent collapse.
This happens when they rise more quickly than their structural integrity can keep up with.
Common adjustments include:
- Adding more flour
- Using a higher-protein flour (whole wheat flour, white whole wheat flour, einkorn flour, or spelt flour, for example)
- Decreasing leavening
- Decreasing sugar
- Increase the liquid
All these tips can help slow down the rising process and support the structural integrity of your baked goods.
I have more detailed information on high altitude baking in my banana bread muffin recipe.
You can also download my free printable PDF cheat sheet with high altitude baking tips here.
What’s this about high-protein flour?
I used einkorn flour for my high-protein flour in this recipe. You can read more about einkorn, an ancient grain, in my high altitude sugar cookie recipe.
Since it has not been hybridized the way modern wheat has, some people find it easier to digest.
You may be more likely to have whole wheat flour on hand, and that will work just fine.
The addition of such flour will slow down the rising process, allowing the cookies to maintain their structural integrity as they rise, and therefore not collapse.
I like the combination of all-purpose and einkorn, so that baked goods rise a bit, but not too much.
Sometimes, if you bake only with something like whole wheat einkorn flour, it can be a bit challenging to get your baked goods to rise enough. They can end up more dense and biscuit-like, and not particularly fluffy.
Let’s talk chocolate!
I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, as is standard for these cookies.
However, for more even chocolate distribution, you can try mini chocolate chips instead.
In addition, for a real gourmet cookie, you can chop up a bar of fancy, high-quality chocolate for an elevated experience.
Orange infused chocolate or fleur de sel chocolate would both make amazing cookies!
Should I use melted butter or room temperature?
That depends on the texture you want your cookies to turn out.
Melted butter will yield more chewy, bendy cookies, while creaming room temperature butter with sugar will trap more air in your cookie dough, leading to a slightly more cake-like cookie.
I often forget to set butter out the night before so usually melt it.
I also feel that a cookie is a cookie, and as my mom would say, I’ve never met a cookie I didn’t like.
That being said, some people have strong opinions about how their chocolate chip cookies should be, so if that’s you, plan accordingly.
I don’t personally think it makes all that much of a difference though, so make of that what you will.
Variations on this recipe
As always, feel free to adapt this recipe to make it more to your tastes. Here are some ideas to get you started:
High altitude vegan chocolate chip cookies
I recently tried vegan butter, and was very impressed with it. You can do a simple one-to-one swap for dairy butter.
In place of the eggs, you can make flax or chia “eggs.” I have a quick recipe for them at the bottom of this recipe for baked porridge.
High altitude chocolate chip oatmeal cookies
To make this excellent combination, simply swap out 1 cup of oats for 1 cup of flour.
High altitude peanut butter chocolate chip cookies
Another great flavor combo! To make it, add 3/4 – 1 cup of creamy peanut butter to the cookie dough. You may need another 1/4 cup or so of flour. Just see if your cookie dough seems too wet, and then if so, adjust accordingly.
High altitude M&M cookies
Simply use M&Ms in place of the chocolate chips. This is especially fun around holidays when you can easily find the M&Ms in holiday colors only.
In addition to these variations, you can also add in extra ingredients:
- Crystallized ginger
- Cardamom or other baking spices (cinnamon works well in this recipe too!)
- Instant coffee powder
- Candied orange peel
For a twist, you can use white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, peanut butter, or butterscotch chips in addition to or in place of the standard semisweet.
Try stirring in chopped pecans, walnuts, or any other nuts of your choice.
You can also sprinkle the cookies with finishing salt, such as Maldon salt, before baking them.
Related High Altitude and Dessert Recipes
- High altitude sugar cookies
- High altitude banana bread muffins
- Marbled cookie brownies
- Cashew butter cookies
Storage and Freezing
You can store leftover cookies in an airtight container. You can leave them out for up to a week or so.
As with most cookies, these freeze very well, also in an airtight container. Enjoy them within several months (if they last that long!).
If you’d like, you can layer wax paper in between your layers of cookies before freezing to keep the cookies from sticking together. Wax paper can also slow down freezer burn if you leave them in the freezer for too long.
This recipe makes 20 cookies. Feel free to double the recipe and freeze some for later!
High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookie Ingredients
Before you begin, you will need:
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), either softened or melted (see note above)
- 1 cup einkorn flour (or other high-protein flour of your choice: whole wheat, white whole wheat, spelt, etc.)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark, but light is fine too)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt (if you are using salted butter, you can make this a scant 1/4 tsp or even 1/8 tsp)
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2-1 cup chocolate chips, depending on your preferred chocolate-to-cookie ratio (1 cup is very chocolatey, while 1/2 is much more cookie-ey)
Tools and Equipment
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- A large mixing bowl
- Stand mixer (optional), hand mixer, or a wooden spoon and some elbow grease
- Measuring cups and spoons (here are the golden ones pictured above)
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper (optional)
How to Make High Altitude Chocolate Chip Cookies
- To begin, melt your butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or so (or on the stovetop if preferred). Then, pour it into a large mixing bowl.
- After that, add the brown sugar to the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Next, add in the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, and blend well.
- Once that’s done, add one cup of flour at a time until all the flour has been evenly incorporated. If you think it needs a pinch more flour for an ideal consistency, feel free to add a little.
- Preheat your oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if desired, for easier clean up.
- Then, fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
- After that, use a heaped-up, rounded tablespoon to measure out each cookie. Roll them into spheres and then flatten them on the baking sheet.
- Once the oven is hot, bake for about 13-14 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown (the tops will not be). Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them continue to “bake” on the hot pan for 5 more minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy!
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Fun Facts about Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate chips came into existence specifically to be used in chocolate chip cookies.
In the US, people eat 7 billion cookies per year. That breaks down to most people eating 1,000 cookies every year, over half of which are homemade. Out of all cookies, chocolate chip are the most popular, both in the US and around the world.
In addition, once detailed Nutrition Facts labels were introduced, people actually increased their chocolate chip cookie consumption by 10%.
This is fitting as Ruth Graves Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, allegedly created the first known chocolate chip cookie in 1930s by accident (she thought the chocolate would melt and be evenly distributed).
Pennsylvania’s choice of state cookie also makes sense, since it is the home of Hershey’s chocolate, whose headquarters are located in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
Chocolate chip cookies are one of only four foods that the pickiest of eaters will still find acceptable. The other three? Fried chicken, French fries, and macaroni and cheese, of course!
In the Middle East, people serve chocolate chip cookies with chocolate sauce, and eat them with a knife and fork.
Chocolate Chip Cookies During the Great Depression and World War II
Also in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, cookie jars became popular in the USA. People modeled them after British biscuit jars.
Housewives were baking more cookies at home during this time to save money, rather than buying them from bakeries, so they needed someplace to store them.
Since chocolate chip cookies are the most popular variety of home-baked cookie, I’m sure they ended up in some of those jars!
During World War II, people from Massachusetts (the birthplace of this cookie – see above) began including chocolate chip cookies in their care packages to family members serving in the war. The soldiers shared these cookies, and and pretty soon people from all over the US began requesting them in their own care packages, which led to their meteoric rise in popularity throughout the country.
Fun Facts about Cookie Paraphernalia
Dutch and German settlers introduced cookie cutters to the US in the 17th century, but they were not the first to use them.
Ancient Egyptians shaped and baked small sweetened cakes, and this practice spread through Greece, Rome, and Western Europe.
The transition from cakes to what we think of as cookies today is also reflected in the etymology. Our word cookie comes from the Dutch koekje, meaning little cake. It is a diminutive form of koek, or cake.
The Dutch made their sweet cake molds, aka cookie cutters, out of wood. The Germans took them a step further and began making them out of copper or tin, so that they would cut better.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick)
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 cup einkorn flour (or other high-protein flour like whole wheat)
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2-1 cup chocolate chips, depending on how chocolatey you want them
1. To begin, melt your butter in the microwave for 30 seconds or so (or on the stovetop if preferred). Then, pour it into a large mixing bowl.
2. After that, add the brown sugar to the butter and mix until thoroughly combined.
3. Next, add in the eggs, vanilla, salt, and baking powder, and blend well.
4. Once that's done, add one cup of flour at a time until all the flour has been evenly incorporated. If you think it needs a pinch more flour for an ideal consistency, feel free to add a little.
5. Preheat your oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if desired, for easier clean up.
6. Then, fold in the chocolate chips with a wooden spoon until evenly distributed.
7. After that, use a heaped-up, rounded tablespoon to measure out each cookie. Roll them into spheres and then flatten them on the baking sheet.
8. Once the oven is hot, bake for about 13-14 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown (the tops will not be). Remove the cookies from the oven, and let them continue to "bake" on the hot pan for 5 more minutes before transferring them to a wire cooling rack. Serve with a cold glass of milk and enjoy!
Nutrition Information:Yield: 20 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 144Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 31mgSodium: 64mgCarbohydrates: 20gFiber: 1gSugar: 9gProtein: 2g