Crisp edges, tender centre, chockful of bittersweet chocolate chunks and occasionally accompanied with a tiny burst of salty fleur de sel delight, these brown butter chocolate chip cookies are a new level of deliciousness!
As its name suggests, brown butter is one of the key ingredients for these cookies. I've talked about brown butter in detail in my Brown Butter Financiers post, so head over there to read all about the steps. (And perhaps use the extra egg white leftover from these cookies to make some financiers!)
The original recipe calls for browning most of the butter, then melting the rest of the butter with the hot browned butter. I'm guessing the reasons for this are: 1) doing so will cool the butter sufficiently to immediately beat in the other ingredients; and 2) retain some of the water to dissolve the sugars (I won't elaborate further as it will become very science-y).
But I'm lazy - so I decided to just brown all the butter, calculate the amount of water in the unbrowned butter, add ice to compensate for the loss of water, then simply let it cool for 15 minutes on the countertop. While it cools, I take the time to measure the rest of my ingredients.
Sugar has an impact on the texture of the baked goods besides affecting the sweetness of the baked goods. This is why I couldn't reduce the amount of sugar too drastically. I cut the amount of sugars by ⅓, and these cookies are at an acceptable level of sweetness for me.
Two types of sugar are used for these cookies: white and brown. White sugar makes a flatter, crispier and lighter-coloured cookies. Brown sugar makes a fatter, chewier and darker-coloured cookies. Just using only one type of sugar will affect the look, texture and flavour of the cookie, so you definitely need both. I'd go for the darkest brown sugar if I can for an even more intense molasses flavour.
Good quality chocolate chips are a must for these cookies. I also like using bar chocolates, bashed up with a rolling pin into chunks. To counter against the cookies' sweetness, I prefer to use dark chocolate chips instead of semisweet or milk chocolate chips.
Chilling the Cookie Dough
I learned about chilling the cookie dough when I made Anna Olsen's oatmeal raisin cookies, but I never knew the science behind it at that time. There are a few things that happen when the cookie dough is chilling:
- The flour and sugar absorb more liquid in the cookie dough - less spread, bake and brown more evenly.
- The fat (butter) in the cookie dough solidifies - less spread.
- The cookie dough dries out - concentrates flavour.
- Starches and proteins in the flour begin to break down - more browning and caramelisation, cookie tastes richer and more complex.
The result is a cookie that spreads less and browns more, with more complex flavours and tastes. So a trip to the refrigerator, even for a short 30 minutes, is definitely beneficial for the cookies.
Baking the Cookies
I want a big cookie that will satisfy my cookie cravings after eating just one cookie, so I intentionally baked them large. Larger cookies also give cookies a mix of textures - crisp edges and chewy centers. (Though my mom complained that it's too big for her to finish all at one go.)
A simply slightly flattened cookie dough will yield an even cookie with a smooth top. But breaking the cookie dough half and reassembling them will result in a cookie of varying heights (hence varying textures), and also a craggly and rugged surface. I also find that the sea salt flakes stay on top of such rugged surface better. No right or wrong, just personal preference!
It has been a long time since I baked cookies but I'm so happy to bake these because they are so good and delicious. Making brown butter may seem like a "too-much-effort" kind of step, but I honestly think it's worth it!
|1) Place butter in a light-coloured saucepan, and melt over low heat, swirling the pan occasionally.||2) Turn up the heat to medium and let butter come to a simmer.|
|3) The butter will start to sizzle and sputter as the water comes to a boil. Stir constantly and gently with a silicone spatula to allow water to evaporate from the butter.||4) Once the sizzling sound becomes softer, the butter will start to foam and brown. Remove from heat and check if butter has been browned to desired brown-ness.|
|5) Once the brown specks are dotting throughout the foam, immediately pour the butter into a mixing bowl, scrapping all the browned bits out. Add in the ice cube and stir until ice cube has melted. Let cool for 15 minutes.||6) While butter is cooling, whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl for a full 1 minute to evenly disperse the raising agents. Set aside.|
|7) Add the sugars, vanilla and salt into the browned butter.||8) Whisk until incorporated, about 1 minute.|
|9) Add in egg and egg yolk.||10) Whisk for 1 minute.|
|11) Let the batter rest for 3 minutes, then whisk again for another 30 seconds.||12) Add in the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula and fold until no dry specks of flour is left.|
|13) Add in the chopped chocolate and fold with a rubber spatula until chocolate is evenly mixed in.||14) The cookie dough will be quite thick yet shiny.|
|15) Using an ice cream scoop, divide the cookie dough into 60 to 62 grams each.||16) Roll each dough portion into a ball. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour, up to 48 hours, for the flavours to develop.|
|17) Space each cookie dough 5-cm apart from one another on the lined baking sheet. Flatten into a 1-cm thick disc with the palm of your hand.||18) Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet 180 degrees and bake for another 7 minutes, until the cookies are browned at the edges.|
|19) To make uneven and ragged cookies, break the cookie dough into half and position them such that the halves overlap one another. Press the dough gently to "fuse" them together.||20) Uneven and ragged cookies with a slightly thicker centre.|
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 170 grams unsalted butter
- 10 grams ice cube
- 285 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teasoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 100 grams caster sugar
- 100 grams light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, see Note 1
- 1 large egg, each egg is ~50 grams without shell
- 1 egg yolk, each yolk is ~20 grams
- 200 grams chocolate, chopped, see Note 2
- Additional chocolate chips / chunks
- Fleur de sel, or coarse sea salt flakes
Make Browned Butter
- Place butter in a light-coloured saucepan. Place over low heat and swirl occasionally (not stirring), until butter has melted.170 grams unsalted butter
- Turn up the heat to medium and let butter come to a simmer. It will start to sizzle and sputter as the water comes to a boil. Stir constantly and gently with a silicone spatula to allow water to evaporate from the butter.
- Once the sizzling sound becomes softer, the butter will now start to foam (and you may detect a whiff of nuttiness). Remove from heat at this point. Stir constantly and gently to allow the residual heat toast the milk solids. Stir until you see brown specks dotting throughout the foam. Return to heat as needed if the butter has cooled down too much or you are unable to see the brown specks forming.
- Once the brown specks are dotting throughout the foam, immediately pour the butter into a mixing bowl, scrapping all the browned bits out. Add in the ice cube and stir until ice cube has melted. Let cool for 15 minutes.10 grams ice cube
Mix the Dry Ingredients
- While butter is cooling, whisk flour, baking powder and baking soda in a separate mixing bowl for a full 1 minute to evenly disperse the raising agents. Set aside.285 grams all-purpose flour, 1 teasoon baking powder, ½ teaspoon baking soda
Making the Cookie Dough
- Add the sugars, vanilla and salt into the browned butter and whisk until incorporated , about 1 minute.100 grams caster sugar, 100 grams light brown sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, ½ teaspoon sea salt
- Add in egg and egg yolk and whisk for 1 minute. Let the batter rest for 3 minutes, then whisk again for another 30 seconds.1 large egg, 1 egg yolk
- Add in the flour mixture and use a rubber spatula and fold until no dry specks of flour is left. Add in the chopped chocolate and fold with a rubber spatula until chocolate is evenly mixed in. The cookie dough will be quite thick yet shiny.200 grams chocolate
- Using an ice cream scoop, divide the cookie dough into 60 to 62 grams each. Roll each dough portion into a ball and place on a lined baking sheet. Cover with clingfilm and chill for at least 1 hour, up to 48 hours, for the flavours to develop.
Baking the Cookies
- Preheat oven to 180°C (conventional) / 170°C (convectional). Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Get ready 2 wire racks to cool the cookies.
- If the dough has been chilled for more than 1 hour and is very firm, let the dough come to room temperature slightly for 5 to 10 minutes. Otherwise, space each cookie dough 5-cm apart from one another on the lined baking sheet. Flatten into a 1-cm thick disc with the palm of your hand. Press a few more chocolate chips / chunks onto the cookie dough if desired.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet 180 and bake for another 7 minutes, until the cookies are browned at the edges. (If the cookies are too firm to your liking, reduce baking time by 1-2 minutes.)
- To make uneven and ragged cookies, break the cookie dough into half and position them such that the halves overlap one another. Press the dough gently to "fuse" them together.
Cooling the Cookies
- Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 3 minutes, then sprinkle with sea salt flakes, if desired. Let cool for another 5 minutes. Slide a thin spatula underneath the cookies and carefully transfer them to the other wire rack to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.
- The cookies are best eaten warm (baker's perk!), but they taste awesome at room temperature too.
- If you don't plan to sprinkle sea salt flakes on the cookies, you can increase the amount of sea salt in the batter to ¾ teaspoon.
- Do use good quality chocolate here. I like using dark chocolate so that the overall cookie is not too sweet - I use half 70% Valrhona chocolate (chopped) and half 53.7% Callebaut chocolate callets.
- These cookies are huge, you can make smaller ones, but do remember to reduce the baking time as well.
- Recipe adapted from 100 Cookies by Sarah Kieffer