The first time I heard about anyone using browned butter in baking was from Amanda Formaro when she was first building the Secret Recipe Club. She said that it would make a huge difference in my cookies if I browned the butter first. And boy oh boy was she right! It is remarkable, subtle yet definitive.
So when I first came across this recipe I set it aside to make some time in the future … and that day is today!
Chocolate chip cookie recipes are a dime a dozen, most very similar and all an evolution of the first one created by Ruth Graves Wakefield, the owner of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, in the 1930s. They all include varying amounts of white and brown sugar, flour, eggs, salt, baking powder, butter, vanilla, and chocolate chips – most commonly semisweet.
With this technique, you brown the butter before beating it with the sugars. Browning the milk solids in the butter evaporates some of the water and concentrates the flavors, adding a slightly nutty character. Using salted butter – an absolute no-no for most of my baking friends – enhances and balances the sweetness for the perfect bite every time.
I wanted a stronger caramel flavor so I increased the percentage of brown sugar from the original recipe. Don’t be tempted to switch the chocolate chips to milk or white – you need the slight bitterness of semisweet or bittersweet to offset the sweetness of the cookies themselves and toffee bits.
The size of the scoop you use and the diameter of the cookies you want will determine the size of the chocolate chunks you use. The bigger the cookies, the larger the chunks you can use. You can use regular chocolate chips for more flexibility – they can be used in both small and large cookies. The choice is up to you.
Our house filled with the most delightful aroma of hot caramel while these were baking, bringing The Artist down from upstairs wondering what I was up to. When I told him, I got a huge smile from him before he went back upstairs to finish working. I got another smile when I showed up with a plate of still warm cookies just for him!
Once you’ve tried these cookies, I’ll bet they show up on your summer menus regularly – especially when you’ve been asked to bring something sweet to picnics, parties and potlucks! These cookies are decadent, packed with caramel flavor, and will disappear before you realize it if you don’t watch them carefully!
Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
When browning the butter (or making caramel) always use a light-colored pan. The lighter the interior, the easier it is to see the change of color. If you are using a dark pan you run the risk of burning the butter because you cannot see the subtle changes. Butter goes from just a touch of golden to burned in a flash, watch it very carefully and pull it off the burner before you think you need to – you can always put it back over the heat! If the butter does burn, throw it out, wash out your pan and start over. There is no recovery once it is burned.
Use a gluten-free flour blend and make sure you check the labels on the toffee bits and chocolate chips. If you are serving these cookies to anyone with celiac or severe reactions to gluten cross-contamination, use the vanilla instead of the bourbon. While distilled spirits are not an issue for many, the caramel coloring added to them may be.
- 2 sticks (1 cup; 8oz) salted butter, cut into chunks
- 2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour or 320g gluten-free flour blend
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg + 1 egg yolk
- 2 tsp bourbon
- 2 tsp vanilla paste or pure extract
- 1/2 cup toffee bits or Health bar bits (Hershey’s brand is gluten-free)
- 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chunks or chips (see comment above)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheet with parchment. Set the bowl from your standing mixer next to the stove.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter starts to foam and bubble up, swirl the pan or whisk constantly, keeping the butter moving. Occasionally pull the pan off the heat and let the foam subside so you can see what is happening under it. When the butter turns brown, fragrant, and you see little brown bits at the bottom of the pan, immediately remove from heat and pour into the bowl of your standing mixer. If you leave it in the pan it will burn. Set aside to cool.
- While the butter is cooling, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Add both the sugars to the bowl with the melted butter. Beat on medium speed about 3 to 5 minutes - you are looking for the butter-sugar mixture to form into large flattened clumps around the edges of the bowl that collapse as soon as the beater comes around again. Add the whole egg, yolk, and bourbon, and beat until thoroughly blended and smooth. It will look like a thick and sticky pancake batter. Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until fully incorporated. Add the toffee bits and chocolate chunks or chips and stir until just combined.
- Use a 1 or 2 tbsp ice cream scoop to portion the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave at least 1-1/2 inches between them to allow for spreading.
- Bake for 10 minutes or until edges just start to turn golden brown, spinning and swapping the sheets, top to bottom and front to back about halfway through.
- Remove from the oven and leave the cookies on the pan for a couple of minutes to firm up before transferring to a wire rack to cool thoroughly.
- Yield: about 3 dozen cookies (depending on how large you make them)
Create a New Tradition Today!
Unauthorized use, distribution, and/or duplication of proprietary material from The Heritage Cook without prior approval is prohibited. This includes copying and reprinting content and photographs. If you have any questions or would like permission, I can be contacted via email. Feel free to quote me, just give credit where credit is due, link to the recipe, and please send people to my website, www.theheritagecook.com. The suggestions here are not intended as dietary advice or as a substitute for consulting a dietician, physician, or other medical professional. It is the reader’s sole responsibility to determine which foods are appropriate and safe for their family to consume. Please see the Disclaimers page for additional details.
Let’s connect! If you ever need any entertaining or cooking advice, need to alter a recipe for gluten-free, or want recipe suggestions, don’t hesitate to contact me. Thanks for joining the Heritage Cook Family!