Monday, March 9, 2009

Browned Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

I am not one easily excited by a cookie. Give me a lemon tart, a bite of flourless chocolate cake, or a slice of chocolate babka any day and you can keep your cookie. I've had more than my share of mediocre, one-note cookies and few truly good ones ...but just one bite of these browned butter wonders has me reconsidering my stance on cookies altogether. My first bite elicited an enraptured "Ooooohhhh... oohhhh...mmmm..." from my usually critical lips. You think I jest? Try them. I submit that these are the best cookies that will ever emerge from your oven. You won't give them as gifts, and you won't make them for guests; you will keep them for only yourself and (maybe) your family.

These cookies are an incredibly delicious example of perfection in simplicity. You'll be astounded at the complexity and depth of flavor derived from some of the most basic ingredients in your pantry, and the results you get from so little work are incredible. These cookies are not pretty and do not masquerade as anything fancy, nor are they attractive cookies full of empty promises; they are quiet, unassuming treats that at once astound and comfort the tongue. Their subtle sweetness mellows into an amazing interplay of buttery nuttiness and warm vanilla perfume that lingers on the palate, begging to be savored. In simple terms, these are really good cookies.

Browned Butter Cookies
(Adapted from Gourmet)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Cook butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it has a nutty fragrance and flecks on bottom of pan turn golden. Transfer butter to a bowl and chill until just firm, about 1 hour.
2. Beat together butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy. Beat in vanilla, then mix in flour and salt at low speed until just combined. Transfer dough to a sheet of wax paper or parchment and form into a 12-inch log, 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Chill, wrapped in wax paper, until firm, about 1 hour

3. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Slice dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, arranging 1 1/2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake until surface is dry and edges are slightly darker, 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

*Cook's notes:

- Dough keeps in the fridge for a few days and in the freezer for several weeks. I like to make a few rolls of dough to keep in the freezer so I can slice and bake at my leisure.

- You can roll the dough rolls in sanding sugar/raw sugar before slicing to add a bit of sweet crunch to the edges of the cookies. I prefer mine sans sugar, but they're good either way!


  1. I'm wondering if you should add a note about baking sheets, since that seemed to make a difference in taste. And wanna hear something funny? Steve personally thought he'd like the cookies better if they were iced on top. =P I'm gonna try it, just because I live to make him happy.

  2. Go for it and let me know how they turn out!

    As for the baking sheets, it's more of a difference in cooking time than the sheets themselves (or you could use line the uninsulated sheet with parchment paper). I've found that the uninsulated sheets need slightly less time in the oven and that the darker the sheet, the more careful you need to be.

  3. I've since made these a second time... They are very forgiving!!! As in, I forgot they were in the oven, and they cooked past what they should've been and they were still good! And I especially love having this recipe on hand because they make for a very good, "Oh no, I have company coming over and I forgot about dessert but I have to clean!" recipe. That happened to me the other day. Each step takes so little time and is spaced out, so you can work it around whatever other craziness you got going on.

  4. I just got inspired to make these for my class tonight.