The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
I grew up in a ‘because I said so’ household.
“Why can’t I have an Easy Bake Oven?”, I no doubt said in the whiniest voice ever. “Because we have a real oven and because we said so!” was likely the answer from my very reasonable parents.
“Why can’t I wear these filthy overalls and Nirvana inspired grunge flannel to church!?” I’d ask my mom as we were rushing out of the house, almost late for service. “For so many reasons, but mostly because I said so!”. Thank goodness for mothers.
“Why can’t I drive a car like all of my friends who have cars that their parents bought them to drive!?” Gah… what a brat I was. My parents response was likely somewhere along the lines of, “You’re crazy. You’re lucky there’s food in the fridge for you to eat. You’ve only been on the planet for 16 years and we care too much about you, and our cars, and about other people on the road to ever merge the three. Also BECAUSE WE SAID SO! Get out of our faces starting now. ” Thanks parents.
In that vein, I bring you the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER… because I said so (and also because of browned butter).
I think I’ve posted this recipe on my blog before, but I’ve found a renewed spirit for these cookies after my friends at King Arthur Flour put these Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies to the test. They asked, in step-by-step pictures of butter melting and flour whisking, if these cookies were the very best there are. The answer is up to you, really. Are the cookies that come out of your oven after mixing up this dough the best you’ve ever had?
The answer in my opinion: HECK YES!! Obviously, and because I said so!
One a scale of 1 to croissants, chocolate chip cookies are pretty simple to bake. There’s not a lot of attitude, but there are a handful of things that need to go more right than wrong when making this cookie batter.
– Half of the butter is browned to a golden amber color. The milk solids in the butter will also brown and gather at the bottom of the skillet. Make sure every bit of these browned butter bits make it into the batter. We want all of their flavor!
– Measuring the 2 1/4 cups of flour needed for this recipe is a big deal. We’ve talked about measuring cups vs. kitchen scales and learned the best way to measure flour into measuring cups. It takes a light but deliberate touch.
– A stand mixer or hand mixer is nice for incorporating the butters, sugars, and eggs. A wooden spoon, elbow grease and patience will also yield the same effects.
– I like to mix the dry ingredients, chocolate chunks, and nuts by hand. We can get good bottom-of-the-bowl scrapes and we’re less likely to over-beat the dough. Taking it easy is best.
– Chocolate should be dark and in large chunks, or milky and in round disks. You get to do whatever you want. That feels good.
– Do you really need to chill the dough before baking the cookies? Well…. yes! Also… no. I try my best to chill the dough for at least 30 minutes before placing it in the oven to bake. Chilling the dough allows the dough to relax and allows the flour to absorb and settle in the with moisture added to the dough via butter and eggs. I find that chilling the dough will create a slightly more plump cookie with extra body. Baking the cookie straight away will create a slightly more flat cookie. Nuance.
– Why with the salt all up in the cookies and all up on top of the cookies? Because I said so.
Here’s why these are the very BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies around.
Using butter two ways (browned and softened) helps create a chewy and crisp texture. Chewy on the outside and crisp around the edges.
Adding just a touch more than 2 cups of all-purpose flour helps maintain the not-totally-flat-and-frustrating quality of the cookie.
Brown sugar and an extra kick of molasses lend depth to the sweetness.
Dark chocolate and a touch of sea salt pair bitterness and salty tang to the sweet cookies.
They’re perfect because of brown butter, sea salt… and because I say so.
The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies
recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Place half the butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the burner and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes.
Beat the remaining 1/2 cup butter with the brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.
Beat in the vanilla extract and molasses.
Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth; the mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy.
Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for one minute more.
Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated.
Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and pecans and finish incorporating all of the dry flour bits into the dough.
Scoop the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Flatten it slightly into a thick disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2″ between the cookies; they’ll spread as they bake.
Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt, to taste — as much or as little as you like.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them.
Serve warm; or cool completely, and store airtight at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.