Let’s get back down to the basics!
I think I’m finally starting to get settled into this new school and new city. I’ve had some practice in my life on learning to love a city, and Chicago for the most part has been making it pretty easily. Found my go-to tacos, go-to pizza, go-to Thai – still in the progress of finding my go-to sushi place, though. For me, finding the perfect sushi spot is like unpacking the very last box.
The best find thus far, though, is this cocktail bar at which we’re practically already regulars. Really, we keep going back because of the bartender. Brock is the definition of charisma, not to mention has impeccable taste in drinks.
Apparently he thought I was joking when I promised to bring cookies next time. Clearly, he doesn’t know me well enough. Anyone who does would know that I’d take his (joking) request for chocolate chip as a challenge to finally sit down and do the research on the definitive best chocolate chip cookie recipe. The go-to of all go-tos.
The thing about chocolate chip cookies is, they’re classic. You can’t mess with people’s idea of a chocolate chip cookie too much – but the problem is, everyone has their own idea of their perfect chocolate chip cookie. Thin or thick? Crispy or chewy? I can’t be a mindreader, but I can at least turn to the science. Serious Eat’s Food Lab hasn’t let me down yet, and their brown butter chocolate chip cookie with a dash of coarse salt isn’t going to be the one to break that winning streak. Crispy edges, chewy middle, perfect balance of salty sweet butterscotch goodness. Seriously, I didn’t know that a simple basic chocolate chip cookie could be this good! It’s not just me either – that moment when everyone closes their eyes and the room falls silent as they eat your cookies… no other feeling like it.
This was my first time playing with brown butter, and I might have to start incorporating it into everything I do now. Like, even brown butter on toast will probably transform that toast into a creature of rich nutty caramelized magic. Sadly there isn’t a dairy-free substitute for brown butter – the definition of which is essentially caramelizing the milk solids in butter. So for the vegans or lactose-intolerant out there, I’m still on the search for that perfect vegan chocolate chip cookie for you.
Then because why not, I also threw in a hit of rum in honor of Brock. But seriously, the guy even washed the tupperware the cookies came in! Ah, Midwestern hospitality…welcome to Chicago.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes approximately 28-36 cookies
recipe from Serious Eats’ The Food Lab
- 1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter
- 1 ice cube, approximately 2 tablespoons
- 2 cups (10 oz) all purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon table salt or 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3/4 cup (5 oz) white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- *optional – whatever other extracts/flavoring you choose, for example rum
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 oz) packed brown sugar
- 2 cups (8 oz) dark chocolate chips/chunks – I just used chips already on hand, original recipe recommends chopping baking chocolate for optimal texture
- optional – coarse salt for garnish
- First, brown the butter. Melt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, swirling constantly until the milk solids begin turning golden-brown. Remove from heat and continue swirling for about 15 seconds, until the color has deepened to a darker “hazelnut” brown. It should smell distinctly nutty and caramel-like. Don’t get too lost breathing in that goodness – transfer to a heatproof bowl and whisk in the ice cube. Cover and chill for about 20 minutes, until the edges are starting the solidify but the butter is still mostly liquid.
- While waiting for the brown butter to chill, whisk together in a medium bowl the flour, baking soda, and salt.
- In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the white sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract as well as any other flavorings you might be using. (For rum, I threw in a couple tablespoons – didn’t measure exactly). Whisk by hand, electric, or stand mixer until the egg mixture pale yellow, quite thick, and grown in volume, about 5 minutes.
- Add the chilled brown butter and brown sugar to the egg mixture. Combine using the paddle attachment if using a stand mixer, or by hand with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add flour mixture to the egg-butter mixture and combine. If you added additional liquid via additional flavoring, add a few tablespoons of flour to compensate. Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips/chunks.
- Chill dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes if you’re a hurry, preferably overnight and up to 3 days. Chilling allows the dough to absorb moisture as well as develop flavor for a more richly flavored cookie in the end.
- Preheat oven to 325 F. Prepare baking sheets with greased foil, parchment paper, or silicone baking liner. Form balls of dough 2-3 tablespoons big. Tear each dough ball in half and stick the halves back together with the craggy sides facing outward – this improves the outward texture of the final cookie. Stick a few more chocolate chips/chunks on top for a prettier cookie, if desired.
- Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating and switching top to bottom halfway through. For a cookie with a more tender middle, the edges should be set though the middle might still look slightly undercooked. I prefer keeping them in on the longer end, when the edges and the middle are just set, for a crispier outside.
- Sprinkle with just a dash of coarse salt per cookie; lightly press it in (don’t burn yourself)! Cool cookies on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack (or at least a cool surface if you haven’t invested in cooling racks yet). Eat warm for chocolate gooeyness, room temperature for chocolate-studded crunchy chewiness. You can store completely cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for at least 5 days.
Nutritional description: not much nutrition involved, but better than the ultra-processed stuff you find in the grocery aisles. I made them slightly smaller than the original recipe for portion control and also easier sharing, so they’re really not that bad calorically.
Nutritional information (based on 36 servings): Calories 133, Total Fat 7.1g, Saturated Fat 4.3g, Cholesterol 23.8mg, Carbs 17.2g, Fiber 0.4g, Sugars 10.7g, Protein 1.6g, Sodium 31.6mg