Like many other folks, there’s a list of things in life that I’ve always REALLY wanted to do, but just haven’t been able to for various reasons.
Living in a big city (at least for a short period of time). Skating in Rockefeller Center at Christmas. Flying first class on an air plane. Going zip-lining and living to tell the tale afterwards. Having a book on the NYT Best-Seller list. Remodel and live in a three to four story brownstone house.
Those are some of my more “extreme” ones that are proooobably going to have to wait until circumstances in my life adjust– most notably the financial ones.
On the other hand, I’ve got other less major ones that would probably be extremely do-able and realistic.
Attend an All-White Party AND a Black Tie Gala. Sing Karaoke (in public). Slow-dance to “The Way You Look Tonight” in the dark. Become completely fluent in conversational Arabic and Spanish. Take a salsa dancing class. Get tatted.
Those are all things I COULD do, but… procrastination+nervousness+introversion= unaccomplished goals for Jess.
I think I’ve mentioned it before on the blog but apart from my general Bucket List, I’ve also created a separate one that’s solely dedicated to recipes, techniques and ingredients in the kitchen that I’ve yet to practice and try. That list is actually getting gradually shorter and shorter as cooking is not something that I’m particularly limited in by lack of cash, or something that I have to swallow huge amounts of fear or anxiety to do. Cooking and baking are my form of personal therapy so I actually try to do them as much as possible, even when it’s trying out new things.
It’s pretty wonderful feeling when you actually get to accomplish something you’ve always wondered, thought or dreamed about, and an even better one when it’s every bit as satisfying as you always hoped it would be. Today’s post is actually me ticking off one of the things on my baking Bucket List: making something with browned butter.
Browned butter baked goods is one of those things I’ve heard RAVE reviews about, but just never got around to trying for myself. I think I did have a small paranoia that in the process of trying to ‘brown’ the butter I would accidentally burn it. However, that was a silly fear. Browning butter is very simple, and so long as you don’t leave it alone on the stove to go take a shower or clean the house, then it’s pretty safe to say, you’re not going to let it burn. This is my first and only time using it, and prior to now I didn’t think there was anything else you could do to elevate the simple but classic chocolate chip cookie.
I WAS WRONG.
If there is anyway to make a chocolate chip cookie reach the level of pure nirvana, it isn’t nuts. It isn’t coconut. It’s isn’t dark chocolate chips or caramel. Nuh uh.
It’s brown friggin butter.
What makes browned butter different from regular? Well the first thing you’re going to notice after you’ve prepared it here, is that it has a particular smell. A nutty, ‘caramely’ rich aroma that almost reminds you of what the Nestle Tollhouse booths in the mall give off when they’re baking fresh batches of goodies. Or even, what the Keebler Elf Treehouse would smell like inside if it were a real thing. At least that’s what came to MY mind when I took the saucepan off the stove to let the butter cool and stuck my nose down into it to get a whiff.
Chocolate chip cookies usually come down to two things when it comes to stand out flavors: the chocolate chips and the texture of the cookie itself. Some people prefer dark chocolate as opposed to milk, while others want chocolate along with other mix-ins like nuts and coconut. Some people prefer cakey chocolate chip cookies while others prefer them thin and crispy. I think what the browned butter mainly does to elevate these cookies is that, it makes the actual flavor of the COOKIE DOUGH itself the star of the cookie. It has a unmistakably rich, nutty flavor that marries well with the flavor of the chocolate, balancing out the sweetness.
I wouldn’t call the texture of the cookie cakey, but it’s also not crispy either. It’s a perfect balance between the two; crisp edges and soft chewy centers (provided you stick with a middling bake time, of course.)
Also, Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches. Just throwing that out there.
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 standard ice cube (about 2 tablespoons of frozen water)
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
- 5 ounces granulated sugar (about 3/4 cup)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 ounces dark brown sugar (about 1/2 tightly packed cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped with a knife into 1/2- to 1/4-inch chunks
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. (Alternatively, whisk over an ice bath to hasten the process.)
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Place granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high speed until mixture is pale brownish-yellow and falls off the whisk in thick ribbons when lifted, about 5 minutes.
Fit paddle attachment onto mixer. When brown butter mixture has cooled (it should be just starting to turn opaque again and firm around the edges), add brown sugar and cooled brown butter to egg mixture in stand mixer. Mix on medium speed to combine, about 15 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just barely combined, with some dry flour still remaining, about 15 seconds. Add chocolate and mix on low speed until dough comes together, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate dough at least overnight and up to 3 days.
When ready to bake, adjust oven racks to upper- and lower-middle positions and preheat oven to 325°F. Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a spoon, place scoops of cookie dough onto a nonstick or parchment-lined baking sheet. Tear each ball in half to reveal a rougher surface, then stick them back together with the rough sides facing outward. Transfer to oven and bake until golden brown around edges but still soft, 13 to 16 minutes, rotating pans back to front and top to bottom halfway through baking.
Remove baking sheets from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat steps 3 through 5 for remaining cookie dough. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container, plastic bag, or cookie jar at room temperature for up to 5 days.