Let me start off by saying this is a recipe from Cook's Illustrated. It is one of my most beloved recipes because the cookies are SO SO SO good. In the spirit of holiday giving, I am sharing it with everyone. (Well, everyone who doesn't have a subscription to Cook's Illustrated)
I know, this time of year we really don't need another dessert in the house. Trust me. One of these cookies with a cup of coffee is the perfect pick me up to get you through the long, crazy days, leading up to Christmas.
The key to these cookies is browning the butter. This is not difficult, but keep the heat moderate and your eye on the butter. Don't check your email or get on the phone. That will cause you to burn the butter, which is, well, gross. (Not that I have ever done this.)
After the butter melts, swirl it with a wooden spoon, watching carefully. My butter always develops a foam of butter on top of the melted butter. These are the milk fats. I have found that just about the time the bubbles die down the butter begins to brown and take on a delicious nutty smell. As soon as this happens turn off the heat. That is the key, the smell. So keep your nose close to the pan.
The rest of this recipe is really straight forward cookie making. Just make sure you underbake them - so they are gooey and butterscotchy and oh so delicious! I use my Kitchen Aid to mix up the dough.
Browned Butter, Brown Sugar Cookies (from Cook's Illustrated)
14 tablespoons unsalted butter. divided
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups packed dark brown sugar, divided
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook the butter until it is browned a dark golden color and smells nutty, about 1 to 3 minutes.
2. Pour browned butter into mixer bowl and add the rest of the butter. It will bubble and melt.
3. In a small bowl, mix granulated sugar and a ¼ cup of the brown sugar until combined well; set this mixture aside to roll dough balls in.
4. Using a low mixer speed, add 1 ¾ cup brown sugar and salt to butter. Mix until there are no lumps.
5. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well, then add flour, salt, baking powder and mix until just combined.
6. Roll dough into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter, and roll balls in brown sugar and white sugar mixture. Place balls about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake sheets one at a time until cookies are puffy and lightly browned, about 12- 14 minutes. (It says the cookies will look slightly raw between some of the cracks and seem underdone, but be careful not to overbake.) Cool on sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.
I find these so rich, that we usually bake up about 6 and then freeze the cookie dough balls for later eating. To bake, put frozen cookies onto a baking sheet and bake 15-17 minutes.