I wonder how many times my mom furiously shuffled through her paper-strewn pocketbook for the receipt for my brother and I. Ten times? Twenty? How often did she wonder what the hospital’s return policy was?
I imagine it was as often as we pleaded for store bought chocolate chip cookies. Soft Baked, Mrs. Fields, Chips Ahoy Chewy. Our kitchen was void of these. Mom baked instead. Fresh, homemade cookies, recipe on the yellow back of the Nestle Toll House bag. Out of the oven, they tasted divine. But once the next day came, and the one after that, the cookies hardened a bit. Stiffened with one night’s slumber. How quickly they lost that innocent and young, chewy charm. A bag of three CD-sized chippers in a brown bagged lunch was no more prized than a box of raisins.
“They’re just not soft enough, Ma.” Her eyes dulled. She realized that we must have been sick that day in school when they taught us tact.
I wish our tiny tot taste buds weren’t jonesing for the fake vanilla, the dough conditioners, that artificial caramel flavor. I wish I knew then that ‘Ma-produced’ means a world more than ‘Mass-produced.’
I get it now, Ma. Ant and I were as foolish as Fraggle Rock. We should have been encouraging you to consider a throwdown with Mrs. Fields.
These brown sugared beauts are a new take on traditional, a variation that I’ve heard more about than my own birth. Browned butter chocolate chip cookies. Chewy caramel meets intense toffee taste. Browning the butter, to the point where it’s almost caramel, brings out a nutty depth, complexity of sweetness…layers of brown sugar verging on molasses.
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
(makes 20 large cookies)
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
- 1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 325°. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it melt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 7 minutes- until the butter has begun to brown and look like caramel. You will smell a sweet nuttiness coming from the pot.
Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until well combined.
Stir in chocolate chips. At this point, I like to refrigerate the cookie dough for up to 48 hours, to let the dough rest. It does wonders to ensure a chewy cookie. I realize this is insanity for most people so go ahead and get baking. Roll the dough into 20 balls- each about 2 tablespoons. Place no more than 9 at a time on a cookie sheet and flatten slightly with your fingers. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies begin to turn a light golden brown around the edges and the center looks soft-set. Remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.