My favorite part of having written two cookbooks? Readers’ emails, hands down. In these hectic times where people rarely take the time to tell others how much they appreciate their work, readers’ emails are THE BEST. For several reasons. On the one hand it’s a great way to find out which recipes your readers are most excited about and on the other hand – and more importantly – it warms my heart to read their personal stories around my recipes.
Last week I received an email from a young mother of two who couldn’t stop raving about my chocolate chip cookie recipe. She introduced herself as somebody who is able to wreck the simplest cake and couldn’t believe to have baked such great cookies in her own kitchen. She now brings them to every kindergarten or school event, because her kids’ friends keep asking for them. She even makes her own variations with the kids’ favorite chocolate bars. The email was written in such vivid colors, the first thing I felt was utter cookie lust and I headed straight to my kitchen. I’m always keen to ensure we never ever run out of homemade granola or cookies – at any given time -, chocolate chip cookies we had none. Zilch. Just some type of lemon-y shortbread I tried the other week. A quick scan through fridge and pantry and minutes later a large chunk of butter was sizzling away.
Chocolate Chip Cookies are a tough business, every dedicated baker has his/her own expectations and I’m no exception. I perfected mine over the years to my own liking and the moment I used brown butter was a cookie changing experience. If you ever had a cookie with brown butter, you will understand… (if not, travel to Cayucos, then you will understand). Mine are supposed to be a tiny bit underbaked (slightly chewy), yet the edges nicely browned, with (not too much) chopped dark chocolate pieces instead of choc chips and a few Maldon sea salt flakes on top.
But having cookie aficionado friends like Kerrin, Hande and Coco, it was just impossible to stop there. So my recipe has gone through countless adaptations and extra cycles and I’m curious to hear, if you have a favorite choc chip cookie addition, too. Because I can never settle on just one single cookie edition, I usually prepare the dough without chopped chocolate, divide it in halves or even thirds and add whatever floats my boat just by guess and gosh. Which makes for even more cookie pleasure… It’s all about the choices.
Successful combinations I return to over and over again:
– salted peanuts & chocolate
– cranberries, pistachios & coconut
– chocolate bar & salted pretzels
– caramel or toffee bar & chocolate
– M&Ms (or similar) & nuts
– rolled oats, sultanas & chocolate
– macadamia nuts & chocolate nibs
The basic dough is a breeze to work with, just add little amounts of these additions at a time to make sure the dough can handle your goodies, don’t overload it and skip the final salt flakes, if you already added something salty like pretzels.
And by all means, don’t nibble on the dough: you won’t be able to stop, consider yourself warned – and I’m not even a dough nibbler!
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat and let it brown slowly. I prefer to use an old enamel pan, simply because its inside is white – makes it easier to control the degree of browning. Stir regularly using a silicone spatula and make sure the butter solids don’t stick to the bottom and burn. At first the butter will foam, then simmer gently. Wait until it starts to smell nutty and reaches a golden brown color, but be careful to not let it get to dark or it will taste burnt. Immediately fill into another bowl (otherwise it will brown further) and let cool for at least 30 minutes. Coarsely chop the chocolate
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Put both sugars, egg and egg yolk into a big bowl and beat with a hand-held mixer (whisks) or the flat beater of a KitchenAid at least 3 minutes until light in color and creamy, most of the sugar crystals should have dissolved. Now add the cooled down brown butter and beat for 2 more minutes. Sieve flour and baking soda into the bowl, add the fine sea salt and mix only as long as it takes to reach an even dough (change to dough hooks for this step, if using a hand-held mixer). Lastly add the chopped chocolate (or other additions like nuts, dried fruits, etc.) and mix shortly until evenly distributed.
Scoop little mounds of dough onto the sheets using either two tablespoons or an extra small ice cream scoop and leave generous space between. Sprinkle with a little Maldon sea salt and bake on middle level for 12 to 14 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown, yet the center still feels slightly soft to the touch. Take out, let rest for 3 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a wire rack (minus the one you have to eat right away) and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.
Chocolate chip cookies with brown butter
Recipe source: own creation
Prep time: ~30 minutes, Baking time: 12-14 minutes
Ingredients (yields about 35 cookies):
150 g butter
150 g dark chocolate (50-70%)
150 g dark Muscovado
50 g granulated sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk (L)
225 g bread flour (type 550)
1/2 tsp baking soda
a little less than 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
Maldon sea salt (or Fleur de sel) for sprinkling