These large bakery-style brown butter chocolate chip cookies are sure to put a big smile on your face. Each bite is packed with a rich toffee flavor, gooey chocolate chips, and crunchy pecans.
If you like cookies with a crisp exterior, chewy, moist center, and toffee-like flavors then you’re in for a real treat! The trick to this recipe is to transform regular butter into a divine liquified browned butter.
Just by spending a few extra minutes of heating on the stove, the milk solids develop incredible butterscotch flavors that bake into each bite.
This recipe is adapted from my chewy chocolate chip cookies but adds crunchy pecans and a toffee-like flavor from the brown butter. It’s reminiscent of the classic store-bought Nestle Toll House version that you slice from the tube and simply pop into the oven, but way better!
Making browned butter
Milk solids in butter begin to turn a golden brown over high heat. The process creates brown bits with the most amazing nutty aromas and flavors. Compared to just using regular softened butter in the batter, brown butter further enhances the flavor of the cookies. It reminds me of fresh peanut brittle, smells so good!
Adding a little bit of additional cold butter into the hot browned butter helps to quickly cool it down and slows the browning process. This is the key step to the recipe, so don’t skip it. However, keep an eye out, remove from the heat when ready, you don’t want charred bits!
The trick to a prettier appearance
Here’s an easy technique I learned in culinary school to get a more natural surface with lots of exposed chips. As you roll each dough ball, break it apart in half, and recombine the smoother pieces together. You’ll get more exposed chocolate chips on the cookie.
Most of the time we tend to just roll the dough into a ball, set them on a baking sheet, and place in the oven. The problem here is that the chocolate chips sink to the middle of the dough and won’t break the surface once baked.
Mix longer for better texture and flavor
There are multiple whisking and waiting steps when working with the cookie batter, sugar, and eggs. The process is important because it allows the sugars to dissolve slowly into the liquid from the eggs and butter.
If done correctly, the sugars will caramelize when baking at lower temperatures and create crispy edges with soft centers.
How do these cookies get so crisp and chewy?
It comes down to the combination of ingredients. White granulated sugar adds the crispiness while dark brown sugar adds the chew. Brown sugar tends to stay moist and likes to hold onto water which helps to add the softness into the middle of the cookie. Melted butter also adds some chew because the fat crystals change shape and add to the dense texture.
Chill the dough
The dough is chilled multiple times in this recipe to help with shaping the cookie and allowing the flavors to disperse. The additional “breaking” technique may warm the dough, so it’s best to chill it for an hour before baking. The cool temperatures firm up the butter and prevent excessive edge spread.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top before baking
- Add chopped walnuts, peanuts, or almonds
- Add chocolate chunks, dark chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips
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Browning butter happens very quickly!
The method of browning butter is called beurre noisette (aka hazelnut butter), and it happens in less than 5 minutes. You can quickly smell this aroma as the milk solids heat up in the pan. Make sure to watch closely for the change in appearance from a bright yellow to an amber color. The butter can quickly burn off if not closely monitored.
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Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, unbleached
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- ¾ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.
- Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl, set aside.
- Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.
- Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter into warm butter until completely melted. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.
- Add egg and yolk, whisk in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes.
- Whisk for 30 seconds and let stand another 3 minutes.
- Repeat process of whisking and resting 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny (4 times total).
- Using a rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined.
- Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
- Allow dough to chill for 15 to 30 minutes covered in the refrigerator so the dough can be easier to roll.
- Divide dough into 16 portions and roll into a ball, each about 3 tablespoons. Allow portioned dough to chill covered and refrigerated for 1 hour or longer on a sheet tray.
- Tear the dough balls in half by pulling gently from both sides. Press the two halves together again, with the lumpy torn sides facing upward to expose the chips and give a more rustic appearance. You can add more chips on top so they pop out on the surface.
- Allow portioned dough to chill covered and refrigerated for an hour or longer on a sheet tray.
- Arrange cookies 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. Add a few additional chips on top before baking for a prettier surface.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375°F (191ºC).
- Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and edges have begun to set, but centers are still soft, 10 to 13 minutes. Rotate baking sheet halfway through baking.
- Let cookies cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.
- Table salt can be substituted for kosher salt.
- For less spread chill the cookies longer, overnight is ideal!
- Making cookie dough ahead of time: Refrigerate dough balls for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 2 months.
- Store baked cookies: Up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature.
- Freezing baked cookies: Individually cover in plastic wrap and store in a plastic bag in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost before eating.
- Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.
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