Everyone likes treats. It’s science. Our evolutionary minds cannot fight off the temptation of something filled with fat and sugar to help us survive another day. Because at some point in our history, when we lived off the land, this intuition is what kept us a thriving species. Now, in our present day, where we don’t have to hunt for our food, etc, etc, it’s what is killing us. But the real point is that treats are good. And in my opinion, the most satisfying way to enjoy a treat, as well as the most frugal, is to make them yourself.
So as a general rule we have [that we break often] is that if we do want a treat, we have to make it from scratch. Putting the time and energy into making a little indulgence helps us to reduce our intake of delectable morsels. If I buy a bag of chips or a box of cookies, they just kind of disappear. I have no connection to the pre-made, boxed food and just consume it. When I bake something, or pop fresh popcorn, I really savor it. But these cookies I’m about to share with you! I. Can’t. Stop. I found this recipe at Baker Bettie, searching for a sans baking soda, cookie recipe, since we lacked the aforementioned ingredient and Jazz simply HAD to have cookies and ice cream, and we both just loved them. Listen, I’m not really a sweet tooth, but now I kind of make them all the time. On the weekend, I make a batch of dough, roll it into a log with plastic wrap– like the store bought kind– and whenever we want a fresh baked cookie we just cut 1 [or 2] cookies from the log and voila! Cookie fix complete. And we indulge maybe a few nights a week.
But then I made them even better.
The French call the magical sensation of caramelizing butter, beurre noisette or hazelnut butter. That sounds a whole lot more sexy than brown butter, if you ask me. But regardless of the semantics, brown butter is easy to make and so So SO good. It was the combination of this and a little sprinkling of sea salt on top of these hot chocolatey cookies that simply blew my mind. The first night I tried it, Jazz walked in from his night class and I told him he was going to die. He asked why. I said it was the cookies. He asked if I wanted him to die. I said yes. Our marriage is both beautiful and bizarre [don’t worry, not like Frank and Claire Underwood beautiful/bizarre].
I hope to pass out these cookies as gifts for the Christmas season. So if I try to give you some, I’m not literally try to kill you. Just figuratively, with chocolate sea salt and caramelized butter. These cookies are gorgeous and will be easy to package. Check out this post from The Kitchn for some great ideas for packaging your holiday baked goods.
Brown Butter Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 16 cookies
1/2 cup [1 stick] butter, divided, room temperature
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt + extra for sprinkling
1 cup + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1. In a small sauce pan, heat half of your butter on medium heat. Allow it to caramelize. The milk solids on the bottom of the pan will be brown when the butter is finished. Meanwhile, in a medium size bowl, combine the remaining butter and sugar. Pour the brown butter into the sugar and butter mixture and mix to combine. Place your bowl in the freezer a couple minutes to cool off the butter, mixing occasionally. Once the butter and sugar are no longer warm [just a couple minutes] you can move onto the next step.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Add your egg and vanilla, and with a wooden spoon work the egg into the batter until combined.
3. Add flour, salt and chocolate chips and stir until just combined, being sure to scrape the sides for proper incorporation.
4. You can either a) roll your dough into a log, wrap in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer or b) bake immediately. Bake on an ungreased baking sheet. Place 2 Tbsp of dough about 2 inches apart on the sheet pan. Bake for 9-12 minutes (if your baking from the fridge they might take a couple minutes longer). I can tell these are done when there is just the tiniest rim or golden color along the bottom. The tops will still look slightly undercooked, but will continue to finish cooking once taken out of the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt immediately. Allow to cool at least 5 minutes before removing them from the baking sheet. Eat slowly.