brown butter chocolate chip sea salt cookies

Cookies are my favorite baked good to make. I have a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe that I know better than the back of my hand and can make in less than 45 minutes, including baking time. Still, I love to experiment with additions and substitutions to make different variations on the classic chocolate chip cookie.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies-2

After reading so many recipes that rave about browned butter I decided to jump on the bandwagon and give it a try in my cookie recipes. I tried recipe after recipe after brown buttered recipe, each one disappointing me in a different way. The cookies were flat and thin instead of leavened and chewy. The brown butter added a nutty flavor but the batter didn’t stay together. I altered recipes and changed the ingredient ratios with a little success but still not good enough to meet the expectations my regular chocolate chip cookies set for my palate.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies-3

On a mission to make the best browned butter cookies, I did a little research and determined that part of the problem with my failed cookie attempts was that browning the butter releases water, resulting in a moisture loss. The lower amount of moisture made it difficult for the dough to stick together. We alleviate the crumbling dough problem by browning most, but not all, of the butter, to keep some of that lost moisture.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies-9

While browning butter might seem intimidating, have no fear! I had trouble browning butter until I learned to listen for the popping, or lack thereof. Browning the butter takes a bit more effort than throwing a stick of regular butter in the bowl but these browned butter sea salt chocolate chip cookies are well worth it.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies-5

Browned butter smells delightful and infuses its delicious toffee aroma and flavor into the chocolate chip cookies. It pairs so well with pools of dark chocolate spread throughout the cookie and bits of sea salt that highlight and enhance all of the flavors. Unlike so many browned butter cookie recipes I have tried, these stay tall and the dough sticks together easily. Success!  The cookies come out soft on the inside with a crunchy exterior.  The chocolate drips out of the crevices of the caramel colored cookie.  They are the perfect cookie for those times when chocolate chip cookies need that extra boost or you want to impress your friends.  Really, is there ever a bad time for brown butter chocolate chip sea salt cookies?  The answer to that is no.

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies-7With the intensity of the dark chocolate chunks, depth of the browned butter and zing of the sea salt, these ooey, gooey cookies are by far the best browned butter cookies I have tried!

Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Sea Salt Cookies

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, divided
½ cup sugar
1 ½ dark brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1 pound dark chocolate, chopped into chunks (I used a combination of bittersweet chocolate chips and a chopped up dark chocolate bar)
sea salt (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and sea salt.

Over medium heat melt 12 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. The butter will bubble and pop. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until the crackling noises stop. Once the butter stops popping swirl continuously until brown bits begin to form at the bottom of the pan. After about 2-3 minutes, once the bits become amber, remove the butter from the heat and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter until completely melted.

Add the sugars and vanilla to the butter and stir until incorporated. Add the eggs and egg yolk one at a time, mixing well after each addition. On low speed, gradually add in the flour mixture until incorporated, then add the chocolate chunks.

Scoop the cookie dough into 3-tablespoon sized balls and place on your prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with sea salt (optional).  Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, or until the edges and tops are golden brown. Allow the baked cookies to cool for a few minutes on the trays before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

*Slightly adapted from Handle the Heat

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