Get the Recipe
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/DL 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 thinking 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 they're own, but I wouldn't say no to accompanying them with a nip.
About the author: Carrie Vasios Mullins is the editor of Serious Eats: Sweets. She likes to peruse her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar. You can follow her on Twitter @carrievasios