Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Brown Butter Cookies

There has been a surge of brown butter recipes as of late on the web... largely inspired by a recent article in the now-retired Gourmet Magazine. Brown butter is an amazing ingredient -- it's the result of cooking butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to foam and turn a caramel brown. This results in caramelization of the milk solids and alters the flavor of the butter to an amazing nutty, toffee-like taste. I've seen it used in everything from pasta sauce to cakes and cookies.

With Nathan deployed for a year, baking and shipping cookies has been fairly high on my priority list. I wanted to come up with a brown butter cookie recipe of my own, and after some trial and error, invented one I really love. It is a salty-sweet cookie with a sparkling sugar coat and would be perfect for your holiday gift baskets. Or just to eat by the fistful with a big glass of milk. Whatever floats your boat. ;)


1 cup of butter, browned and cooled to room temp. (You can do this part up to 1 day ahead. The butter won't firm up after it cools, it will be semi-liquid and grainy. Don't worry, it will whip up beautifully when the eggs are added to the batter. )

1.5 cups white sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

2.5 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup sugar for coating

In a large mixing bowl, combine browned butter and sugar. Mix until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla and whip until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Sift flour, salt, soda, and baking powder together into wet mixture. Mix just until well blended. Form into 1" balls (I used a small cookie scoop which worked great), and roll in additional sugar until coated. Place about 3 inches apart on a cookie sheet. I line mine with parchment paper -- well worth a few bucks for the roll. When the cookies come out of the oven, i just pull the whole sheet of parchement off, cookies and all, and cool that way. No mess, no crumbs, no cookies falling through wire racks. Bake at 400 F for about 8-10 minutes. You want the cookies to take on a sandy brown color but not cook so long they dry out. Experiment a little to see what doneness you prefer. Less time = chewier cookie. I like mine on the crisp side, so 10 mins was about right. They still had some chew in the center but the outer edges were crisp and wonderful.