Why It Works
- Adding an ice cube to the browned butter replaces lost moisture and cools the butter.
- Bourbon adds caramel notes to the finished cookie.
I hope by now you've all read Kenji's awesome Food Lab on the science of chocolate chip cookies. For anyone remotely interested in baking, it's a fascinating look at how this quintessential cookie is put together. There were a lot of great takeaways, but one technique in particular caught my eye: that weird thing with the brown butter and the ice cube.
Here's how the step in the recipe reads:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally. (Alternatively, whisk over an ice bath to hasten process.)
The TL/DR explanation for this step is that he wanted to impart brown butter flavor into the cookies without losing moisture, and also to cool down the butter before mixing it with the eggs.
I've been wanting to make brown butter cookies for a while, and learning this new, improved technique seemed like the right impetus to start. When I thought of what to add to my brown butter cookies, bourbon sprang to mind. It's got a caramel, toffee-like flavor profile that would marry perfectly, especially when offset with some salt and some nutty pecans.
I made these cookies a little oversized, and worried when they were still soft after 18 minutes in the oven. But they set up as they cooled, and the boozy bite of the raw dough mellowed into those nutty notes of brown butter. They're perfect on their own, but I wouldn't say no to accompanying them with a nip.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 ice cube
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
5 tablespoons bourbon
1 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook, gently swirling pan constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, dark brown sugar, and egg. Add cooled melted butter and vanilla and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and stir to incorporate with a wooden spoon. Add bourbon and stir until liquid is absorbed. Stir in pecans. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Adjust oven rack to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Drop dough by the rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake, flipping sheets halfway through baking, until golden on the bottom but still soft to the touch, 15-18 minutes. Cookies will continue to harden and set as they cool.
Saucepan, baking sheet, parchment paper.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 5g||6%|
|Saturated Fat 2g||9%|
|Total Carbohydrate 14g||5%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 7g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|