magic cookies with brown butter

Tonight, after a long week of leading writing workshops for high-school students I was doing laundry and looking forward to a night of not doing much at all. I needed to pack for travel the next two weeks, but I'm big on procrastination. While switching my laundry, I get a text from M asking if I'll make brown butter cookies for a charity bake sale for tomorrow. (Sometimes, I think I feel how my mom must have felt when we would spring last minute projects on her). My first thought was, ugh, I have to go to the grocery store and then I'm in the middle of laundry and I'm just grumpy and tired. (Remember, from my last post that I experience emotions relatively quickly). I started to think about all the things I involve M in even when she isn't always enthusiastic. She is, after all, spending a week with me in Louisville while I score AP exams, and travels to conferences with me. I thought about all the sacrifices she makes for me and how much I love to see her smile. I thought about how little a thing making cookies is and the pride I could take in having people contribute to charity and enjoy cookies I made. Suddenly the excuses faded away. I knew then, I would be baking tonight. However, I couldn't go into it begrudgingly, which is how I first felt. Because even though a task gets done, doing something tinted with resentment is not really enjoyable. So, I changed my laundry and once back in my apartment, scoured the kitchen to see if I had any of the necessary ingredients. Surprisingly, I needed quite a few things, so I made a list and headed out. I treated myself to a passion-tea lemonade, grabbed the ingredients I needed and went back to check the laundry. Once I put on some music, I felt some real energy and love into those cookies. And honestly, the baking process only took me time that I would have been procrastinating packing.

I'd expected that I 'd written about these cookies before, because they are so incredible, which has nothing to do with my baking skills and everything to do with the caramel-y yumminess of 2 sticks of brown butter and a pinch of sea salt. Seriously, sea salt in cookies has changed my dessert desires. I first made these last year; I'm not quite sure why. I was baking and into trying new recipes when I stumbled across this one. The first batch I made, I gave away to the ladies at the post office because I ate about 5 cookies in an hour. I just kept wandering back into the kitchen and taking one. I warn you now, these cookies are a little magic and addictive, but worth the time it takes.

If you have little ones in your life, this recipe can get them into the act measuring and depending on age, working the mixer and slowly adding in the dry mix. Once the dough is cold, they can help roll the cookies, a task I am admittedly inconsistent with as my cookies are various shapes and sizes.

This recipe is from one of my favorite cooking blogs, The Recipe Critic. Because I'm not the baker my Granny was, I haven't altered the recipe at all, though my oven takes longer to bake the cookies. My advice is to check periodically unless you know for sure how your oven behaves.

You'll need:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter (Apparently there is unsalted and unsalted sweet butter. I use regular unsalted).
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1¼ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp. plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I've tried various brands and sizes. I really like the dark chocolate but you can go with whatever you like).


  1. Cut the butter in pieces and place in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisking frequently allow the butter to brown. There is a thin line between browned and burned. I can now smell exactly when it's ready, but just continue to whisk until you see it brown. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. (I'm a little impatient about this, and often mix it hotter than it should be).
  2. In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In your mixer, combine sugars and brown butter. Blend until smooth. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and yogurt. (You can use a hand mixer for this. I've even mixed it by hand, but it wasn't a fun task).
  4. Next, mix in the dry ingredients. I mix the dry ingredients a bit at a time, especially if I'm using a hand mixer rather than my Kitchen-Aid. Once all the dry mix is mixed, fold in the chocolate chips until incorporated, using a spoon or spatula or your hands. Again, I mix in chocolate chips slowly as I fold the dough. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350. On a non-stick baking sheet, or lined with parchment paper, scoop the dough out by tablespoons about 2 inches apart.
  6. Bake until golden brown in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes. (It took mine almost 15 minutes to get golden but I baked multiple sheets of cookies at a time).

You'll end up with something like this: