Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Comfort Food Cookies

Some weeks, you just need to bake.

And this week, the pull has been especially strong. The weather in the South has been unusually frigid-rain battered against my roof all day yesterday- and cold air continues to seep through the frames of gray, foggy windows.  It’s at this point that my mind wanders to what my kitchen might smell like if I turned on the oven and let the heat do its work on something sweet.

Also, did I mention- it’s the week of THANKSGIVING? And if you don’t want to bake this week, then the likelihood is that you never will. Unless, of course, it’s World Nutella Day and that is an exception to every rule.

But back to baking. There is a coffee shop and book store that I absolutely adore whose chocolate chip break-up cookies are not to be missed. On cold fall days, they are the baking remedy to whatever life looks like. They are buttery; dense but chewy; with chunks of semisweet chocolate that melt in your mouth before you get a slight hit of the salt that is artfully placed on top.

Cookies Up Close

I have wanted to recreate these cookies for a while, and this week, I needed to bake them. This recipe from Joy the Baker is as close as I have gotten to date. Her version tastes and smells like warmth; the browned butter and flaky sea salt roll comfort food into a simply, incredibly delicious form.

I know this aren’t the typical Thanksgiving dessert- we’ll leave that to pumpkin/pecan/cranberry jelly pies- but I am pretty sure that the smell of these warm out of the oven will make any holiday guest feel instantly at home. Even on a cold, rainy, almost wintry fall day.

Cookies from Above

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is from the super talented and fabulous Joy the Baker. I made a few changes from her original recipe, and they are noted in italics.

What You Will Need

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses (I used honey, but I think molasses would be delicious)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans (I prefer my cookies without nuts, unless it is peanut butter, which is a different story)
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (or semisweet chocolate chunks)
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling

What You Will Do

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

2. Start by browning 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted completely, it will begin to foam and froth as it cooks.  The butter will also crackle and pop.  That’s the water cooking out of the butter.  Swirl the pan occasionally, and keep an eye on the melted butter.  The butter will become very fragrant and brown bits will begin to form at the bottom of the pan.

3. Once the bits are an amber brown (they are about the color of this wood), immediately remove the pan from the heat and pour browned butter (bits and all) into a small bowl.  Leaving the butter in the pan will burn it.  Allow the butter to cool for 20 minutes.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the  remaining 1/2 cup of butter with brown sugar.  Cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes (this will be a very light, beige color).  Add the vanilla extract and molasses (or honey) and beat until incorporated.

5. Once the brown butter has cooled slightly, pour the butter (brown bits and all) into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.  Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute more.

6. Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is evenly mixed (this is important; I had some unmixed bits in my bowl).  Add the flour mixture all at once to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in pecans (optional) and chocolate chips.

7. Spoon batter onto parchment paper or plastic wrap and wrap into a disk or cylinder and seal at both ends.  Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

8. Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or a Silpat).  Scoop dough by the two tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets (or cut your dough log into 24 slices and make dough balls from each slice with your hands).  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Be sure to leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie.

9. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are golden brown.  Remove them from the oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Serve warm or allow to cool completely.