Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cherries and Dates, Changing Hearts and Minds

Know how they say to keep your friends close and your enemies closer?  I say you should keep your friends close and your friends that know how to make the most-insane-chocolate-chip-cookies-you-have-ever-had-and-you-don’t-even-usually-love-chocolate-chip-cookies even closer.  

These cookies!  They are studded with bits of a Taza dark chocolate bar and have a slight butterscotch edge to them.  They also have soft, chewy centers with crispy rims.  They are the kind of cookie I’ve grown to expect from Brian Mercury, pastry chef extraordinaire. 

Topped with flecks of his own briny sea salt—homemade and hailing from the waters of Maine—he has delivered us all a very thoughtful cookie.  Brian is a friend.  But he is also one of the most passionate individuals I have ever known. (Sure I'm biased, but chocolate chip cookies don't lie.) And if you are someone who cares deeply for food, you can’t help but be charmed. 

Take this Sunday.  Dave and I met Brian and his wife, Denise, (also a dear friend) for a Sixpoint pint at Tasty Burger.  Brian had the mushroom burger and fries.  And had dreams of following up his burger with a tongue taco special from Highland Kitchen, seen on Twitter a few hours earlier. 

When Brian suggests something like this, you’d be wise to abide.  Just reconcile that you are having tongue tacos for “dessert,” order a Lambrusco, and settle in.  He rarely misses.  

He didn’t miss on the tongue.  And he surely doesn’t miss on these cookies.

Sea Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cherries and Dates
Adapted from Brian Mercury of Harvest restaurant


6 ounces butter, softened
½ cup dark muscovado sugar, packed
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
¾ tsp baking soda
3 ounces of a dark chocolate bar, chopped into small bits about a quarter inch size
½ cup dried cherries
heaping ¼ cup dates, chopped into pieces
sea salt for topping each cookie


In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter, sugars, and salt on medium-high until light and creamy.  While the mixer is still running, add in the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined. 

Mix in the flour and baking soda until just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate and dried fruit.  Cover and refrigerate, overnight if possible.

Set the oven to 350 degrees. Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Portion out 16 equal sized scoops of dough (about 2-3 tbsp each) on the parchment-lined sheets (8 per sheet).  Sprinkle the center of each cookie lightly with sea salt.  (Refrigerate them until the oven is at temp.)

Bake the cookies for 10-15 minutes, until the edges are lightly brown; the centers should still appear underdone.  Allow the cookies to firm up as they cool on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a wire rack after the cookies have set up a bit.

Makes 16 cookies

-If you have the luxury of time, you should let the dough rest overnight in the fridge so that the flavors continue to develop.  (Also, the dough will not spread as much in the oven if it is very cold.) Otherwise, you can just bake them off once the oven comes to temp.

-The dates and dried cherries are my doing.  As was the muscovado (it was what I had on hand).  You can absolutely sub in dark brown sugar.  Also, Brian used cranberries as his dried fruit of choice.  Also very good.  

-A note on the chocolate.  I love Taza.  (As does Brian.)  If you can get it, use it.  It’s wonderful, albeit a wee bit pricey.  Brian’s recipe called for 9 ounces of chocolate chips, but after I cut up one 3-ounce Taza 70% dark chocolate bar and mixed it in, it seemed like more than enough.  Use your judgment here.

-Use a good fleur de sel or other sea salt for topping the cookies.  You won't regret it.

-Here is Brian's adapted recipe for rum raisin ice cream.  Also very good.


  1. Chocolate chip cookies are definitely my favorite kinds of cookies, especially ones tinged with sea salt. Adding cherries and dates is a great idea!

  2. Hm, I have never really learned to love chocolate chip cookies, but maybe what they've been missing all these years is fleur de sel! However, it's that rum raisin ice cream recipe that's really caught my eye now. The weather right now hardly calls for ice cream, but boozy raisins--I'm sure they'd deliver their own sort of warmth.