You know that a batch of cookies is going to be good when, while forming the dough into balls, you start to fear that certain trouble could ensue…i.e. uncontrollable “tasting,” and result in all that wonderful dough being consumed before ever making it into the cookie stage. It would be a very sad day indeed if these cookies never actually became cookies, which is why I had to strategically shove a stick of gum into my mouth so the dough would be safe. Luckily the dough balls made it into the oven un-eaten, and ten minutes later I pulled out these amazing Browned Butter Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies.
These are not your average chocolate chip cookies. First, you brown a stick and a half of butter. For those of you who have never made brown butter, don’t be afraid! All you have to do is heat the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, and wait for it to brown. You’ll know it’s ready when it’s turned golden-brown, little dark flecks have appeared, and it smells like heaven on earth–rich, nutty, and caramely. Just be careful, because in a matter of seconds your glorious browned butter can turn into bitter burned butter. Been there, done that.
Rather than adding the liquid browned butter right into the cookie dough, it’s chilled for a few hours to come back to a solid state. This helps your cookies stay thick and tall rather than flat and greasy, which can happen if melted butter is used rather than creamed, solid butter. After the butter has chilled, you can get started with the cookie dough. It’s similar to your basic chocolate-chip cookie recipe, but with a few twists…the recipe calls for cornstarch, which works its magic and makes the cookie dough extra thick and the baked cookies extra soft. These babies will stay soft for days! Genius.
Next you stir in 1 & 1/2 cups of mix-ins…I used milk chocolate chips and broken-up pretzels this time, and the result was a super-delicious sweet & salty combo. The depth of flavor from the browned butter, sweetness from the milk chocolate, and salty crunch from the pretzels all rolled into a thick, soft, chewy cookie was out of this world! That said, throw in whatever you like…any type of chocolate chips, chopped up candy bars, nuts, etc. Then it’s back to the fridge to let the dough stiffen up a little and the flavors meld together.
I have to say, making these cookies took a great deal of willpower and a great deal of patience. Between chilling the browned butter and chilling the cookie dough we’re talking 4 hours of refrigeration, and as mentioned above the actual shaping of cookie dough was quite an exercise of self restraint…the smell of that browned butter dough is intoxicating! In a good way. The good news is that you don’t have to make these all in one day…the browned butter can hang out in the fridge for days, as well as the cookie dough. Heck, you could even roll the dough into balls and freeze them! I’m not sure why you’d want to wait any longer than absolutely necessary before stuffing your face with these cookies, but it’s an option. 🙂 The second good news (for lack of better phrasing) is that all your patience and willpower pays off as soon as you sink your teeth into the finished product. I’m not sure I’ll be able to go back to regular cookies made with regular butter after baking these!
Browned Butter Chocolate Chip-Pretzel Cookies
Note: This recipe includes two steps that require refrigeration, so plan accordingly.
3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup broken-up pretzels
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Watch the butter closely, whisking constantly. It will foam up and bubble, and after about 5 minutes it will turn golden-brown and dark flecks will appear. As soon as this happens, pour the butter into a shallow bowl. It should smell nutty and caramel-like. Keep a close eye on the butter as it cooks, because butter can go from browned to burned in just a few seconds. Refrigerate the browned butter for at least 2 hours, or until it returns to its solid state.
After the butter has chilled for a few hours, place it in a large mixing bowl. Beat for about 1 minute or until creamy. Add in the sugars and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and pretzel pieces. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats. Roll the dough into balls using about 1.5 tablespoons per ball. (You’ll be best off using your hands since the dough will be pretty thick and crumbly.) Place cookies on prepared sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes or until just barely golden-brown around the edges. It’s okay if they look a little underdone–you don’t want to overcook these!
Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 3 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 24 cookies.
(Recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction)