Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photo by Keri White

I made these one evening last week, and when my husband bit into the warm cookie, he exclaimed, “This may be the best cookie I’ve ever had!” Given that stellar endorsement, it seemed essential to share.

Brown butter is a bit of alchemy — the butter cooks to a nutty, caramel-y richness and delivers a depth of flavor and texture that is sublime. But it is finicky — you go from heavenly toasty glory to tarred burned goo in a blink, so the preparation requires close watching. It’s not labor intensive, just attention intensive.

The addition of salt when the cookies come out of the oven brings a wonderful complexity and sophistication — salt enhances other flavors in food, and that is certainly the case here. Fresh-from-the oven is the best way to eat these, with the chocolate still melted and warm, so I spread our consumption of these over three days.

I made balls of dough and put them in a sealable container in the fridge, then baked them, six at a time, each evening for dessert. This approach had two benefits: the hot, fresh cookies were a special treat every night after dinner, and it prevented us from overdoing it and eating a dozen cookies in one sitting. Given their deliciousness, this is a real risk.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 18 cookies; can be doubled or tripled as desired

1 stick butter
1¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. It will foam, then start to boil. Begin swirling the pan to keep the butter moving and prevent burning; give it a stir every now and then. Let it boil for a few minutes. It will turn a gorgeous amber color, and form some solids in the bottom of the pan. The whole process takes about 8 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat, and pour the butter into a mixing bowl; be sure to scrape the solids, too; these are flavorful. Let the brown butter cool for a few minutes.

Add the brown and white sugars, eggs, and vanilla to the butter; mix well.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl. Gradually add to the butter mixture and blend well. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Chill the cookie dough for about 30 minutes. While the dough chills, heat your oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment or lightly grease it.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and form balls about the size of a walnut. Bake for 11 minutes.

Remove from heat, and sprinkle lightly with a few grains of coarse sea salt. Allow the cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then enjoy.


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