‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the house, everyone was stirring, even the mouse. Thanksgiving is such a special holiday. It’s a holiday that all Americans celebrate together, it’s a holiday that reminds us of our privileges and our freedoms, and it’s a holiday that encourages us to give and be generous. This one day holiday is frequently prolonged over the surrounding days to be shared with different families and friends, in churches, in schools, in community centers, and in homeless shelters. Thanksgiving is not about us, ourselves, but it is a time to celebrating others. This holiday season, I think we all are called to have a little extra patience, grace, and compassion with one another. One of the best ways I know how to give of myself to others is to cook. Christmas is quickly approaching, and that means cookie baking season is upon us–or if you’re like me, it’s always cookie baking season. Christmas cookies are often brightly colored or covered in powdered sugar; but sometimes you just need a classic chocolate chip cookie. Different foods often represent different memories or times in our lives. For me, chocolate chip cookies got me through grad school. I was extremely blessed to live next door to my best friends who had recently gotten married. They took care of me, they fed me, and they held me together with bandaids whenever I had an accident in the kitchen. But most weeks, there was always a supply of freshly baked cookies. Sometimes I would make them, or sometimes they would–but there were always cookies. These wonderful friends are celebrating Thanksgiving with us this year, so naturally I had the chocolate chip cookies ready! There are some foods that, in my opinion, you just can’t make better than the box. Brownies are one such food item (although I found a fabulous recipe that’ll I’ll share soon). My favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies, although not from a box, has always been on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag. You can’t go wrong with those! This recipe takes a bit more time than your average chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it’s mostly just additional time waiting. Making brown butter can seem intimidating at first, but it’s extremely easy! It just takes patience:) and the key to the perfect textured cookies is letting the dough sit in the fridge. This step is essential. It allows the dough to keep its shape and not spread into shapeless flat blobs. Bake the cookies until they are just golden and let them rest on the cookie sheet for 5 more minutes to allow them to set fully. This gives the cookies a crunchy exterior with the perfect chewy center. Salty-sweet perfection. Eat them while still warm with a big glass of milk. The Best Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies
recipe from The Joy the Baker Cookbook
1 cup (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
coarse sea salt, to sprinkle on top
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Place half the butter (8 tablespoons) in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop. Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan often. The butter will start to smell nutty, and brown bits will form in the bottom. Once the bits are amber brown (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the burner and immediately pour it into a small bowl, bits and all. This will stop the butter from cooking and burning. Allow it to cool for 20 minutes.
Beat the remaining 1/2 cup butter with the brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth.
Beat in the vanilla extract and molasses.
Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth; the mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy.
Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for one minute more.
Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated.
Use a spatula to fold in the chocolate chips and pecans and finish incorporating all of the dry flour bits into the dough.
Scoop the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Flatten it slightly into a thick disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat your oven to 350°F.
Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. Leave about 2″ between the cookies; they’ll spread as they bake.
Sprinkle the cookies with sea salt, to taste — as much or as little as you like.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and allow them to rest on the baking sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving them.
Serve warm; or cool completely, and store airtight at room temperature for several days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.