Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
I made a serendipitous discovery the other day, a discovery that countless bakers have made throughout time eternal. On a quest to make chocolate chip cookies it was discovered by my young charges that no chocolate chips remained in the cupboard. Instead, we found a bag of Hershey bars. So, we chopped them up into large chip-sized pieces and used them instead.
You know what happens when you use chunks of chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips in cookies?
First, they’re bigger, so you get these pockets of chocolate explosions when you eat the cookies. Second, the edges melt into the cookie dough, permeating more of the cookie with chocolatey-ness. Chocolate chips are formulated to hold their shape while baking (less cocoa butter); chocolate bars are made to melt the moment they enter your mouth.
We used milk chocolate bars for this recipe because that’s what we had. While milk chocolate was a favorite when I was a kid, it is less so now. I usually prefer the darkest chocolate available.
However, in this recipe, the milk chocolate chunks work great. They give a warm creaminess to the cookie that wouldn’t be there if you used semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate. That said, use whatever chocolate you like.
We also brown the butter in the first step of the recipe. Browned butter adds a wonderful nutty aroma to the dough. It’s an added step, but one well worth doing.
We brown the butter first in this recipe because browned butter adds wonderful flavor to the dough. If you are short on time or don't want to bother, you can skip browning the butter, just start with room temperature butter.
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces, 225 g) unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 9 ounces of milk chocolate (or semi-sweet or dark if you prefer) bars, roughly chopped into chunks, about 2 cups
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a medium sized, thick-bottomed, stainless steel saucepan (use stainless steel so you can tell when the butter has browned) on medium heat.
Continue to cook while the butter goes through various stages of bubbling up and releasing its moisture. Whisk frequently over several minutes.
When you start to smell the nutty aroma of the butter browning, and you can whisk aside some of the foam to see small browned bits at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and pour off into a bowl. Do not dawdle at this point as it is easy for the butter to go from browned to burnt.
2 Whisk together dry ingredients: Place the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl and vigorously whisk together.
3 Beat brown butter and sugars, then add eggs and vanilla: Preheat oven to 350°F. Pour browned butter into the bowl of a stand-up mixer (if you don't have a mixer, you can just beat by hand). Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 3 more minutes.
4 Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, then stir in chocolate chunks: Stir the flour mixture into the butter sugar mixture a third at a time. Stir in the chocolate chunks and the nuts (if using). Up to this point you can make ahead a day or two and store the cookie dough in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
5 Spoon out cookie dough to lined baking sheet: Line cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper (or just lightly butter rimmed cookie sheets.
Spoon out heaping tablespoon hunks of batter onto the cookie sheets, separated by at least 2 inches, allowing room for the cookies to spread as they cook. You may need to work in batches.
6 Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes, the edges of the cookies should be just a little browned. Remove from the oven, let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Then remove the cookies to cool completely on a rack.