Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

After learning how to brown butter in Principles of Cooking this past semester, I wanted to try it again! So I combined my yen to brown some butter with my mom’s penchant for chocolate chip cookies and found a recipe for browned butter chocolate chip cookies… highly delicious.

Browned butter is butter that has been cooked until melty, then foamy, then browned — but no longer. The smell changes from the scent of melted butter to a nutty, earthy aroma that complements the molasses-sweet flavor of brown sugar and changes the flavor into something entirely new! These cookies are sweet, most definitely, but not cloying.  Okay, now go make them.

Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from this recipe

3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder (didn’t have any, so omitted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup to 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (more the merrier in my opinion)
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Cut butter into 4 or 5 chunks and add to a warm, large skillet (NOT nonstick–so, just “stick”) (large enough to add sugar and other ingredients straight into) over medium heat. While swirling the pan or stirring frequently (but not constantly), cook the butter until the solid milk particles turn brown and gives off a nutty aroma (versus the smell of melted butter). It took about 10 minutes for me; it does take a while but take it off if you think it’s there; it will continue to brown even after you take it off the heat and it’s easy to go too far. Once browned to deliciousness, remove from heat and let cool while you do the next step.

Combine flour, table salt, espresso powder if you have it, and baking soda and whisk lightly.

Add both sugars directly into the skillet containing the browned butter, combine thoroughly. Add the egg and egg yolk, mix well, and stir in vanilla extract.

Pour the skillet contents into the flour mixture and stir until combined; stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate the dough 24-36 hours. Don’t skip this step. It really makes a difference in the flavor and texture in the finished product.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375°F and parchment-paperize a pan. Scoop out about two tablespoons worth of dough and place, leaving a good amount of space for expansion. Don’t forget: lightly sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a bit of sea salt.

Bake for 12 minutes or until just cooked through; don’t overbake because even if they look underdone at 12 minutes, they will continue to bake on the pan and will actually achieve the perfect consistency.

Serve. Duh.

Maybe with some vanilla banana ice cream with whipped cream and agave chocolate syrup? I know, I’m nuts. Or maybe a genius.

These cookies were soooo good. The browned butter taste really comes through and melds decadently with the brown sugar. The sea salt may be unorthodox but is so, so necessary… not because the cookie tastes horrible without it, but with the sea salt, you get the whole sweet/salty addictiveness aspect… plus a little crunch. These cookies come out crispy on the outside with a tender inside. As for espresso powder, I didn’t miss it, but I’m sure it would have taken these cookies to another level of amazingness.

UPDATE: 12/28/2011

These cookies travel well! 🙂


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