I know the holidays have been over for a while now, but I can’t stop making cookies. It’s safe to say that I spend a considerable amount of time pouring and salivating over food blogs. It’s also no secret that I bookmark a lot of recipes, most of which cater more to my sweet tooth than to, say, my physical need to eat in order to survive. I went overboard during the holidays, blaming winter and convincing myself that I actually needed the extra calories to get through the season. But I just can’t seem to stop myself. Finding a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with sea salt on the internet did not help matters.
As usual, I managed to find an excuse to make these cookies almost immediately. Not only was I dying to try brown butter in a cookie recipe and had a feeling that it would be the perfect addition to a chocolate chip cookie, but it just so happened that I also recently acquired some vanilla-bean infused fleur de sel that I’d been dying to use. As if that wasn’t reason enough, a couple of my colleagues invited me to partake in a sinful lunch consisting of five kinds of cheese, fresh-baked baguette, viande des grisons (a Swiss cured beef) and endive salad the next day. What can I bring? I asked. The answer was nothing at all, they had it covered. Not one to show up to a party empty handed, I offered to bring dessert and didn’t have to think twice about which recipe would make the cut.
I can’t even tell you how awesome these cookies were. Does the fact that my entire house smelled of hazelnuts help? Or the fact that three of my colleagues asked me for the recipe? Or that Jérôme, after eating his third cookie, said to me, “Wow. You really do know how to cook.” I think the list of ingredients speaks for itself, but let me just tell you that this is not your ordinary chocolate chip cookie. The brown butter brings a nutty twist to the classic and the fleur de sel is just what the milk chocolate in these babies needs to really come alive. Plus, the dough is unbelievably delicious. You should probably just make these. Right now!
Brown butter chocolate chip cookies with vanilla-bean infused fleur de sel
Recipe from Picky Palate’s blog
2 sticks of butter
1 1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 C sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 3/4 C flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t vanilla-infused fleur de sel or sea salt (if you can’t find vanilla-infused, just add an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract)
1 bar of sweet milk chocolate, crushed into small pieces (I used Milka)
Preheat your oven to 375° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, all at once, swirling occasionally with a wooden spoon so it melts evenly. Keep a close eye on it and keep swirling. Once the butter is completely melted and starts to brown, you should notice a delicious hazelnut-like aroma (brown butter in French is called beurre noisette, or hazelnut butter, after this very odor). This is exactly what you want, so take it off the stovetop quick! Another minute or two, and it will likely be burnt.
While the butter is cooling, mix both sugars in a large bowl and get the rest of your ingredients ready (now is the perfect time to prepare your chocolate). After about five minutes, add your brown butter to the sugars and mix well. Next, incorporate the eggs and vanilla (I always make cookies by hand, but if you’re using a mixer, be careful not to overmix). Sift in the flour, baking soda and sea salt and mix until dough forms. Add your chocolate pieces and taste the dough to make sure it’s not too salty. If it’s not, then you’ll be able to sprinkle the dough with a little more sea salt just before baking. Form the dough into small balls and flatten ever so slightly onto your baking sheet. Add a final, light sprinkling of fleur de sel and bake for about 10 minutes.