A Duplicate Recipe for Trader Joe’s “Journey to the Center of the Cookie”

It’s time to take a break from writing posts and talk about something important: Chocolate-filled chocolate chip cookies.

Journey to the Center of the Cookie

Photo of the Journey to the Center of the Cookie box.
Image originally from TraderJoes.com.

The original Journey to the Center of the Cookie was a product at Trader Joe’s. It was wonderful. When warmed up, you got a chocolate chip cookie with a gooey, chocolatey center.

I can’t overstate how good these were. They blew Trader Joe’s chocolate lava cakes out of the water. And they were unique, too! You can buy a a zillion different kinds of chocolate lava cakes, but how often do you find molten chocolate chip cookies?

So, of course, it was discontinued sometime in 2014. And it left a gaping, cookie-and-chocolate-shaped hole in my heart.

After a year of mourning, my quest began: I had to create a homemade Journey to the Center of the Cookie.

The Recipe

Before we begin, I’ve got to warn you: This is a slightly lame recipe. I barely innovated at all.


These are baked in ramekins. I use 14oz ones.


The Cookie
Use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. I used the Nestle Toll House one, because I am lazy.

The Chocolate Center

  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 2-4 teaspoons milk

Scale up as needed. They’re BIG, so I only make 1-2 at a time.

(Note: It’s important to use milk chocolate chips. Don’t use baking chocolate. I suspect the additives that help chocolate chips keep their shape is what gives the filling its semi-solid consistency.)

That’s it. Seriously.

Step 1: Make the chocolate chip cookie batter.
You can use whatever recipe you want. The Nestle Toll House recipe is a very easy option.

Step 2: Melt the chocolate chips.
You can use a double boiler or just toss them in the microwave.

Step 3: Add about a teaspoon of milk to the melted chocolate chips.
The chocolate will probably seize up a little, but who cares? It won’t hurt this recipe. Stir until the milk’s integrated. It may become dense and a little clumpy.

Step 4: Add another 1-2 teaspoons milk.
Err on the side of adding less than you think you need. You want it to be a creamy texture. It should look something like this:

Photo of a bowl with melted chocolate in it.
I’m not a cooking blogger for a reason.

And be about this consistency:

Photo of chocolate dripping off a spoon.
Seriously. It’s like I can’t use a camera at all.

Add small amounts of milk until you get there.

Step 5: Put the dough in the ramekin.
You’re going to form it into a doughnut shape with a hole in the center. Make it about 1/4 of an inch high. That’s a lot less batter than you think you need.

Here’s the dough in the ramekin. See how little is in there?

And now I'm trying to show depth with a camera shot that hides it.
And now I’m trying to show depth with a camera shot that hides it.

Step 6: Pour in the chocolate!
Pour it in!

In my experience, 1/4 of a cup of melted chocolate tends to make *slightly* more than I need for a single cookie. In this one, I poured all of it in there, even though it overflowed.

This is also why I'm never going to be a professional chef. I'm messy.
This is also why I’m never going to be a professional chef. I’m messy.

Step 7: Bake the Cookie!
Use your recipe’s instructions for baking PAN COOKIES. For the Nestle Toll House cookies, this is 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

When you’re done, it should look like this:

Baked Cookie with Crinkly Top

Yes, the top of the chocolate will be a little “crinkly.” Don’t worry. It looks exactly like it should when you cut into it.

Step 8: Let cool… then enjoy!
I give them at least 10 minutes of cooling before I eat them. They get a little hot.

But here’s the magic. It looks a little weird, right? But when you cut into it, the texture is just about where it should be. It’s firm-ish melted chocolate. It’s more solid than pudding and less cakey than chocolate lava cake.


Partially Eaten Cookie

It’s Not Perfect, But it’s Good

All in all, I think this is a reasonable dupe. The center is about the right consistency. But, most importantly, it’s delicious.

This is NOT a perfect match for the filling, and I know it could be improved. In my opinion, the filling still needs a bit more body to it. But this is still pretty darn close, and really easy.

If anyone else ever experiments with this, please tell me how it goes! I’d love to improve this recipe.

4 thoughts on “A Duplicate Recipe for Trader Joe’s “Journey to the Center of the Cookie”

  1. Thank you for giving chocolate chip cookies the importance they deserve. And an even bigger thanks for the recipe! That looks fantastic <3

  2. I loved this cookie too. I found your recipe while trying to figure out what happened to it. Thanks for figuring out a substitute!

    1. I miss the original so much! It was amazing!

      But I’m glad you found this, and I hope you like it if you try it. It’s pretty simple, and it’s not 100% perfect or anything, but it comes together quickly and it’s easy. :)

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