I’m sorry the title of this post is so long. But there is too much deliciousness to leave even a single word out! I think salt+chocolate might be my new favourite thing. EVER.
These are the most experimental cookies I’ve made so far. And they still blew my mind. This a looooong post, so feel free to gape at the pictures if you’re not into cookie analysis 🙂
I’ve been wanting to make cookies sprinkled with sea salt for a while. This recipe intrigued me because it also used browned butter (more on that soon) and for some reason, every recipe that used it, called for one egg and one egg yolk. If someone can explain the science behind that, please do. It also used two types of sugars, a standard with most chocolate chip cookie recipes, but my personal reference is brown sugar alone, and lesser than the recipe called for. I also used only semi-sweet chocolate chips, because I didn’t have a mix of dark and white, and it really didn’t seem necessary. So I moved a bunch of things around, reduced some things, and that included the amount of butter.
So, about the browned butter. The recipe I used has some nice reference photos for what your butter should look like: deep amber, but not burnt. Here’s the thing, it’s almost halfway to making ghee (clarified butter), if you’re familiar with Indian cooking. I really did not want my cookies tasting of ghee, so after about 5 minutes of constant stirring, I turned off the gas and then stared for a bit. As it cooled, the colour darkened much more than it did on the stove. The little brown flecks that should appear, finally showed up and when I poured it into the batter, I realised a minute more on the heat, and I would’ve landed up with burnt butter. I guess things are a bit different when you use Amul 🙂
The browned butter, I’ll be honest, lends a great toffee-like flavour to the dough, but I couldn’t taste it in the final baked product. The flavour and texture is the same as making regular cookies, but it’s still fun to learn a new technique!
Anyway, so because there’s 1/2 a cup of browned butter, it seemed like too much to use another 1/2 cup for creaming with the sugar. I cut that down to 1/4th. It resulted in a thicker, stiffer dough but the cookies tasted as good as any other. I used small to regular sized eggs, which affects how pliable the dough is. It also meant that the balls of cookie dough, didn’t melt down and turn into flat, thin cookies after baking. In fact, I had to actually press them down a bit. I tested the dough before and after chilling, and if you use less butter like I did, chilling is not required. I got 16 medium-sized cookies out of this dough.
The sea salt. I’m calling it that for lack of a better term, but what it basically is, is coarse, whole, unrefined salt used by the locals. I found it in a ration shop near our place, because all the gourmet stores were out of it. It worked great, is a million times cheaper than imported sea salt (I got enough to make my own saltwater lake in just 5 rupees!) and tastes just divine with the melty chocolate. Yay for local ingredients!
The vanilla extract. Oh my God. So good. I’ve always only used imitation vanilla essence and I ran out in time to spot this beautiful bottle of pure extract at Food Hall and Nature’s basket. You can also order it online here, from Sprig, which I discovered is a Cochin based brand producing these gorgeous looking spices, extracts, and food colouring. It does require spending a bit, but the extract was thick and smelt good enough to just gulp down as it is. Plus it’s safer than the imitation essence 🙂
Ok, I’m done with the thesis. These cookies are thick, soft, chewy, bursting with melty chocolate chips and a delightful saltiness. Honestly, I could eat them all day and all night. That’s all there’s left to say 🙂
What you’ll need:
1/2 cup butter to brown, plus 1/4 cup butter for creaming (I used salted for both)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract/essence
1 egg (a large one will result in a softer dough, but it’s ok if you use a smaller size)
1 egg yolk (ditto above)
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips
2 tbsps sea salt/whole salt
What to do:
1. On medium heat, melt the 1/2 cup butter down completely. When it starts to foam a bit, start stirring to ensure it doesn’t burn. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes till the butter starts to darken, keep parting the foam to check the colour. If you start seeing brown flecks on your spoon, take it off the heat. Mine appeared after turning the gas off, and the butter darkens as it cools. Either way, don’t exceed 5 minutes of heat. Set aside.
2. Sift the flour and baking soda and set aside.
3. Preheat the oven to 175 C and grease a baking tray.
4. Cream the remaining 1/4 cup butter with the sugar. It won’t be so much creaming as it is lightly beating, but that’s ok, you just need to get it well incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat again.
5. Add the cooled browned butter and mix well.
6. Add the egg and egg yolk and mix well till completely incorporated.
7. Add the flour and baking soda and fold into the egg mixture. The dough will be thick, but don’t work it too much, only till the flour is just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
8. At this point, I found it easier to get my hands in there and make a dough out of it. Take a tablespoon and a half of dough and turn it into a smooth ball. Place on the baking tray and sprinkle with the salt. You should get roughly 16.
9. Bake for exactly 10 minutes and leave to cool. Any longer will result in crunchy, dry cookies.
10. Inhale them!