I am just starting to think about a little project I'll be starting soon involving brown butter, so to dip my toe in the water I decided to see what would happen if I made my regular chocolate chip cookie dough with brown butter instead of plain old melted butter. Just for fun, I baked the dough in mini muffin tins. And to emphasize the haute-ness of this project I sprinkled each one with French sea salt just before baking. I was pretty surprised at the difference in flavor. These cookies had a distinct and delicious nuttiness that you don't get when you use melted or softened butter. Try it and let me know what you think.
Brown butter is not at all difficult to make. Basically, just let the butter sit in the pan for a few minutes longer than you usually would when melting it, until you see the browned milk solids separating and falling to the bottom. Watch out, because as the butter cooks it will splatter a little. It will begin to burn shortly after it browns, so don't leave it unattended to chat with the mailman or walk the dog. When scraping it into a bowl to cool, use a rubber spatula to get all of the flavorful brown bits.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 24 cookies
You can just drop these onto ungreased or parchment-lined cookie sheets instead of baking them in muffin tins, if you’d like.
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Fleur de sel for sprinkling (optional)
1. Heat the butter in a small heavy skillet over medium heat until the milk solids on the bottom are a dark chocolate brown. Transfer the butter and solids to a shallow bowl and chill in the freezer until just congealed, about 15 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a mini muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-size bowl.
3. Use a wooden spoon to mix together the brown butter and light brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until smooth. Add the flour mixture and stir until just incorporated. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Spoon some cookie dough into each muffin cup, so the dough comes just to the tops of the cups (the cookies won’t rise much). Sprinkle each cookie with a little bit of sea salt if desired (just a little—it goes a long way).
5. Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges and just set in the centers, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the tin to a wire rack and let stand 5 minutes before overturning, re-inverting, and letting cookies cool completely on the rack. Wipe out the tin, spray again with cooking spray, and repeat until you’ve used all the batter.