I found my true calling in life at the 13th World Conference on Earthquake Engineering in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 2004.

I consider most work-related travel a chore, but this trip was different. The conference was the final event of a high-profile project I’d been immersed in for years. It was an opportunity to show off some work I was truly proud of. And it was three blocks away from the Five Senses Bakery, home of the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie.

Chocolate sparkle cookies
See? They actually do kind of sparkle.

I first encountered the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie in 2002, when I saw an unusual recipe in the Los Angeles Times. I decided to try it. The first bite of the first cookie of the first batch changed my life forever.

If you’ve ever had a Chocolate Sparkle Cookie, you know what I’m talking about. If not – well, I’ll try to explain. I was once like you. I thought I knew how good a cookie could be. I was wrong. The Chocolate Sparkle Cookie was better than that. It was impossibly good. It was rich and soft and chocolaty. If chocolate intensity were measured on a scale of 1 to 10, this cookie’s intensity would be infinity. If cookies were cars, the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie would be the DeLorean from Back to the Future. If cookies were amphibians, the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie would be the kind of frog that grants wishes.

The LA Times credited the recipe to the Five Senses Bakery. I vowed that I would go there one day. Two years later, I was sent to a conference three blocks away. It was fate.

I landed in Vancouver late on a Saturday night. The Canadian immigration officer seemed unusually suspicious. He kept asking about the reason for my trip. I told him I was attending an earthquake engineering conference. I didn’t say that this was my pilgrimage to the birthplace of the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie. I think he could tell I was hiding something.

Sunday morning, I walked to the Five Senses Bakery – and discovered it was closed on Sundays. I was depressed. I went back at the crack of dawn on Monday – and found that it was closed for “British Columbia Day.” I’d never even heard of this holiday. I was despondent. I went to bed early Monday night. Outside my window, I heard fireworks. It was like they were mocking me, celebrating a holiday that separated me from the one thing I loved more than anything else in the world. I fell into deep despair.

I managed to drag myself out of bed and to the bakery Tuesday morning. It was open! My heart filled with joy. I handed my empty backpack to the woman behind the counter and asked her to fill it with Chocolate Sparkle Cookies. I wound up with three dozen, which was all they had.

I practically inhaled the first cookie. I took my time with the second. It had the same intense chocolate flavor as the ones I made at home, but the texture was a little smoother, a little more melt-in-your-mouth. The recipe calls for ground almonds in place of flour; the bakery must have ground their almonds more finely than mine. Or maybe they used magic fairy dust instead.

I shared the rest of the cookies with my colleagues back at the conference. As I looked at each person’s face as they took that first bite, I realized that introducing people to these cookies was the most rewarding thing I’d ever done. That’s when it hit me: I was born to be a choco-vangelist.

So please, try these cookies. Don’t worry. I won’t judge you. I’m not some crazy cookie fundamentalist. I accept the fact that some people don’t appreciate the Cookie. I don’t hate these people; I pity them. My niece likes my sister’s black-bottom cupcakes better than the Cookie. Can you believe that? I admit, those cupcakes are really good – they’re responsible for at least six of the eight pounds I gained over Thanksgiving – but they don’t compare to the Cookie. Cookie-impaired people like my niece deserve our tolerance.

But tolerance has its limits. Some people refuse to even try the Cookie. Like my ex-friend Steve, who made some lame excuse about the almonds triggering his severe nut allergy. How is this a problem? He carries an epi-pen and lives five minutes away from a hospital. A near-death experience is a small price to pay for the bliss of the Cookie.

Sorry, I seem to have gone off on a tangent. To answer your question: yes, 7:15 is a little early, and I apologize for waking you. But I work during the week, and Sunday mornings are the only time I’m free to go door-to-door, so I like to get an early start.

So please, try a Chocolate Sparkle Cookie. It’ll change your life.

Chocolate Sparkle Cookies were created by Thomas Haas at the Sen5es Bakery in Vancouver. They and he have since moved to Thomas Haas Chocolates & Patisserie. The recipe can be found here — I follow it exactly as written except that I don’t sprinkle it with powdered sugar at the end.

35 thoughts on “Sparkle

  1. I really want one of these cookies now. Except if I made a whole batch and took them to something nobody would believe that I didn’t just make up the name sparkle cookie.

  2. Sound like i am going to make those right about now!
    BTW – you can use ‘almond meal’ (sold at Traders Joe ) nstead of crashed almonds. For even smoother taste – almond butter( whole foods.)

    1. The almond meal would probably work really well. But I wouldn’t use almond butter — basically, you spend a lot of time beating air into the eggs, and then when you add the chocolate and almonds, you try not to deflate the mixture too much. I think that would be hard to do with almond butter.

      1. I have a very similar recipe (but without melted chocolate and butter) – you get something similar to the brownies. Its eggs, sugar, cocoa powder (not the mix, just the real dark powder) and almond meal or almond butter. When I use almond butter – I beat it first with the mixer, then beat eggs with sugar – and then beat them all together. The result is much smoother and softer then with almond meal. And yes – I also soak raisins in either brandy or rum – and then mix them in (along with the remained soaking liqueur).,,
        I have yet to try your cookie recipe!

  3. I am considering, if I should hold it against you that you haven’t tried chocovangelizing during the time we worked together. Or any time since max( you know the recipe, us knowing each other).

    1. I’m pretty sure I have brought these in to work around Christmastime once or twice in the last few years. You may have been out of the country at the time.

      Actually, bringing them in when you’re not around is probably worse than not bringing them in at all. Never mind.

  4. “If cookies were amphibians” is the most intriguing idea I’ve heard in a long time.

    So the thing is, I like whole nuts in cookies. My all time favorite cookie or brownie has the standard batter, chocolate chips, and walnuts or pecans. That’s it! It’s so frustrating how rare it is to find a cookie or brownie that has this combination without being “improved” with fudge or caramel or white chocolate or sea salt. I bitch a little every time I settle for a cookie without nuts, just in the hope that the baker will be inspired by my bitchiness. I guess I should just make my own.

    P.S. The Sparkle cookies are *pretty* good.

    1. Does that ever work? If my bitchiness inspired a baker to add an ingredient, I’m not sure I’d want to eat it.

  5. I feel the same way about caramel kisses. They are about 1 inch round, and 2 inches tall, crusty on the outside, gooey in the centre, with a chocolate top. I think they are the most delicious thing on earth but when I bought some for my sons to try they said they were good but not as fantastic as I’d been telling them for months. they lie!!!

    1. Those do sound good. Sorry your sons didn’t appreciate them. Maybe you can trade them in for better sons.

  6. Yeah, British Columbia Day! Sorry to hear that our totally random holiday interrupted your quest for the Chocolate Sparkle Cookie. We Canadians needed a holiday in August, so each province picked a random name and ran with it! In Alberta, it was “Civic Holiday”, but “BC Day” has a nicer ring to it, no?

    If you are a choco-vangelist, can I join your movement and recruit the youth of tomorrow?

    1. I’m glad this wasn’t in Alberta. I don’t think I would have been able to stand being thwarted by something as generic as “Civic Holiday”.

      And yes, of course you’re welcome to join the movement! Maybe you could start by getting your province to change the name of its August holiday to Chocolate Sparkle Cookie Day.

    1. They grind up pretty quickly and easily in a food processor. You can also buy ground almonds (or, I think, “almond flour”) at some stores.

  7. This is why I hate having a nut allergy. I am left out of all the good food discussions! I (unlike your friend) don’t carry an epi pen because my nut allergy is actually self diagnosed. The idea of getting pricked with the thing that makes me gasp for air baffles me and hence I will not have a doctor tell me what I already know- dont eat nuts.

  8. Usually I try to leave witty comments but right now it’s all I can do not to just write COOKIECOOKIEDROOLYUMWANT… and so on.

  9. I’ve sent a message to my daughter in Vancouver – hopefully she will bring some of these cookies to me when she visits this summer!

  10. I know I would love Chocolate Sparkle Cookies. I would make them every night and sit watching TV, eating the whole batch and gain back all the weight I lost.

    I curse you for bringing the secret of chocolaty life to my attention in this manner.

    1. I understand your concern. The solution is simple — bake one cookie at a time. Just scale down the ingredients. Grind up three almonds, beat 1/18th of an egg, …

    1. I never get 36 cookies out of this recipe. And if you go to the bakery, their cookies are bigger than mine.

  11. Almond flour or meal is o-so-smooth and creamy. And Gluten-Free! And because you insist on a 1-10 scale, these Chocolate Sparkle Cookies measure in at ‘infinity’, I am pretty sure I will make these. SOON. Thanks for the recipe link ;) and the 4 lbs I will gain just sniffing the dough.

    1. They do mail order — but only to North America. I’m afraid you’re going to have to bake them yourself. It’s worth the effort.

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