I despise the phrase “I can’t even”.
It is grammatical gibberish that flaunts linguistic rules with a bold little smirk on its overused face.
Yet I have been forced to embrace its generic nonsense because, honestly, these cookies. I. CAN’T. EVEN.
Honestly, people bite into these cookies and experience nirvana for a split second. Then they remember that cookies are just cookies and descend back to earth. But you gave them that second.
Also, I really hope that we all never get over brown butter. Sometimes it feels like it’s in everything, sort of the way bacon became drunk on its popularity a few years ago and now just feels like a cheap party trick used to make not-so-great foods more palatable. I truly hope that brown butter does not suffer the same fate. If you have no idea what I’m going on about, then you need to make yourself some brown butter cookies right this instant. Then you too will know about its ability to transform anything into a vessel of rich, nutty intensity.
The one thing about these cookies (which should actually be a thing about MOST cookies if you ask me), is that a little tiny bit of forethought is required. The dough does need to be chilled for at least 2 hours, which if you’re making these at 9 pm becomes problematic unless you’re cool with eating a whole whack of cookies in bed at around midnight, which I definitely am.
These cookies are powerful and with great power comes great responsibility so dole that shit out wisely.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Smoked Salt
Ever so slightly adapted from Ambitious Kitchen
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
2 ¼ cups AP flour (measured correctly)
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
1 ¼ cup dark brown sugar, packed
¼ cup white sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1 ½ cups bittersweet chocolate chunks, roughly chopped
Smoked Maldon salt (or other smoky salt), for sprinkling
*I also used a smoky espresso salt that I had, and it was delicious - check out these awesome local companies making rad salt flavours: Amola and Maison Côté)
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and set aside. Place the butter cubes in a saucepan over medium heat and allow to melt. Eventually the butter will foam and you will want to give a little stir. Keep an eye on the butter, routinely stirring gently to check on the colour. You should start to see the milk solids (chunky little white particles) become distinct from the rest of the butter. These little solids are what will eventually start to brown. Once the solids start to take on a golden colour, keep stirring until they are brown (but certainly not black). Immediately remove the butter from the heat as things can go from golden and nutty to acrid and black very quickly. If you’re the nervous type, you can always remove the butter from the heat once you notice the milk solids turning golden brown. The finished product, once off the heat, should resemble oil with a scattering of brown crumbs at the bottom. Let the butter cool for at least 15 minutes, preferably outside or somewhere else cool that doesn’t involve steaming up your fridge.
With electric beaters or a stand mixer, beat the brown butter and sugars together in a large bowl until very thoroughly mixed (around 3 minutes should do it). Scrape down the sides of bowl a couple of times during the mixing. Beat in the whole egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Slowly add the flour mixture with the mixer running on low. Beat until the flour is barely mixed in. Every extra whip of the beaters at this point will only toughen your cookies, so be sparing. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and gently fold in the chocolate chunks. The dough should be quite thick, not batter-like.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough for 2 hours. You may not skip this part or you will end up with cookie soup, which I’ll admit does sound somewhat appealing but is completely beside the point right now. The dough can also be chilled for longer (e.g. overnight…a few days…), in which case I highly suggest removing it from the fridge about 20-30 minutes before scooping and baking.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the dough has been chilled as instructed, scoop out 1 ½ tbsp-sized balls of cookie dough and place on a lined cookie sheet. Leave about 2 inches of room between the cookies and don’t place them too close to the rim of the baking sheet. Once the sheet is full, very carefully press down SLIGHTLY on the tops of the cookies (don’t flatten them completely, just the tops). Bake for 11 minutes, but checking after 9, especially if your oven runs hot. Rotate the sheet halfway through the time so that the cookies at the front of the oven are now at the back of the oven and everyone gets to bask in the little hot spots that nearly all ovens have. The cookies should still look slightly underdone when you pull them out, but the edges will be golden brown. The cookies will continue to set as they cool, plus, part of the allure of these cookies is the gooiness of the centres. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, sprinkle them sparingly with the smoked (or whatever flavour) salt. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for about 15 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
Eat all of the cookies while still slightly warm. Die for an instant. Return to life. Repeat.
*It is my opinion that cookies are really only good the day that they’re baked, so what I like to do is only bake as many as I’m going to eat/serve, then keep the rest of the dough in the fridge (or freeze it) until the next opportunity for freshly-baked cookies arises. As mentioned previously, let the cookies sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes prior to scooping and baking if they have chilled overnight or longer. Thaw the frozen cookie dough completely before baking (or smash it into chunks and eat in ice cream). Refrigerated cookie dough keeps for just under a week if in an airtight container.