In the name of research, I felt it was my duty to investigate an outrageous cookie claim made by Bon Appetit magazine. The editors described their Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies as “insane” and even said the recipe “ruins every other chocolate chip cookie recipe.”
For real? If Bon Appetit was to be believed, their ruinous recipe would kick Mrs. Fields to the street, along with Toll House and the $250 Neiman Marcus urban legend chocolate chip cookie. Could one recipe live up to such bold cookie swagger? There was only one way to find out.
The recipe’s original creator is Kate at RageBake, and you will love her beautiful blog. Kate submitted her sweet creation to Bon Appetit, and it ended up being the magazine’s most popular recipe of 2017. Their cooks tinkered with the recipe and made some changes. When I cooked my batch, I made a couple tweaks, too. But the basic premise is the same: The dough begins with a rich base of browned butter, and chopped chocolate toffee candy bars add flavor and crunch. Oh my goodness.
It’s time to step into the….
Chocolate Chip Cookie Test Kitchen
(I’ve always wanted to work in a cookie-baking test kitchen, haven’t you?) Let’s get started with our investigative research.
The first step in the recipe is to brown the butter. If you have a tendency to burn things like I do, it feels a little weird to intentionally cook the butter until the solids turn brown. On my gas stove over medium heat, this took about 6 minutes. The butter goes through several incarnations during the process.
First it foams:
…then it bubbles…
…and then it browns. The moment the mixture turns a nice caramel color, you want to take it off the stove and pour the browned butter in a mixing bowl to cool.
Next, you blend the browned butter with granulated and brown sugar.
A mixture of flour, baking soda and salt is whisked and stirred in, followed by eggs and vanilla. The recipe says the dough will be “loose.” Here’s how mine looked:
Now it’s time to add the chocolate. Kate’s recipe calls for chopped bittersweet chocolate. This is totally a matter of personal preference, but I find that some bittersweet chocolate on the market today is a little too bitter for my taste. Semisweet chocolate has the perfect balance of bitter and sweetness for my taste buds. You can definitely use milk chocolate, bittersweet, or whatever you like for this recipe.
The Bon Appetit recipe calls for chocolate disks or pistoles, preferably 72% cacao. The disks are a “game changer,” they wrote, because they create “thin pockets of chocolate in each layer.” Oh, how I wanted those thin layered chocolate pockets!
I visited two specialty stores looking for the disks, including a cake baking specialty store and a huge Whole Foods, to no avail. I finally found Guittard chocolate wafers at King Arthur Flour for $12.95 a pound. A $6 chocolate surcharge ensures that your chocolate is shipped in an insulated bag with an ice pack so the chips don’t melt. Shipping is an additional $8.00.
I am not opposed to spending extra money on a quality ingredient, but I wasn’t willing to fork over $26.95 for fancy chocolate chips. Especially when our grocery store King Soopers sells Private Selection chocolate chips, which are slightly larger than regular chips and made from Belgian chocolate, for the sweet price of $2.99 for 12 ounces.
So I let go of my thin layered chocolate pocket dreams, because You Only Live Once and I hope not to spend my retirement years living under a bridge.
Next, you chop two Heath or Skor bars. The Bon Appetit recipe called for cutting them in 1/4 inch pieces. Next time I’ll chop them in bigger pieces, as the smaller chunks tended to melt into the cookies.
Stir in the chips and chopped candy bars with a spatula.
Scoop a rounded tablespoon of dough and shape in balls. Flatten the tops slightly with your fingers. This will help the cookies bake evenly.
Our cookies were perfect after 9 minutes of baking at 375 degrees F. The edges were lightly browned and the centers were chewy.
Both Kate and Bon Appetit recommended sprinkling sea salt flakes on top of the cookies, and I enjoyed the salty crunch contrasting with the chewy sweetness. Because my teenager’s taste buds are still evolving, I baked most of the cookies plain and they, too, were splendid.
Here’s my version of the recipe:
Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from recipes by RageBake and Bon Appetit
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt (if using salted butter reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar (light brown sugar is okay, too)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1.4-oz. Heath or Skor bars, chopped roughly in 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces, or half an 8-ounce bag of Heath Toffee Bits
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt (optional)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook, stirring often, until it foams, then browns, about 5 to 8 minutes. Pour into a mixing bowl and use a spatula to scrape the little brown bits into the bowl; cool for 5 minutes.
Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.
Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar to the browned butter and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until blended, about 1 minute. Next, add the eggs and vanilla and beat on medium-high until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in toffee pieces and chocolate chips until incorporated. Let dough rest, covered, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. (If you like, you can cover the bowl at this point and refrigerate the dough for up to 48 hours. Remove the bowl from the fridge and let it sit on the counter, covered, for an hour before proceeding.)
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the cookies in rounded tablespoons and arrange on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Flatten tops slightly with your fingers. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt if you wish.
Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are still soft, 9 to 11 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. In our household, this recipe made exactly 34 cookies.
Here’s a pin-able image in case you want to save the recipe on Pinterest:
The Final Verdict
Among the five taste testers who selflessly sampled these brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies, comments ranged from “the best ever,” to “some of the best I’ve ever eaten,” and “really outstanding.” The recipe is definitely a worthy addition to your cookie rotation. Two others I can highly recommend are The Best Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from my friend Kathleen’s blog The Fresh Cooky and these luscious Soft Chocolate Chip Salted Vanilla Cookies from the Happy Simple Living recipe archive.
How about you? Do you have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that beats all others? I’d love to try it (in the name of ongoing research). Meanwhile, let’s make a pact that we’ll never cease in our quest to find the world’s very best cookies. After all, you only live once, right?
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