These chocolate chunk cookies are made using browned butter and chunks of milk chocolate. Browned butter is an extra step, but so worth it for these decadent chocolate chunk cookies.
Photography Credit: Elise Bauer
CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES: NECESSITY IS THE MOTHER
I made a serendipitous discovery the other day, a discovery that countless bakers have made throughout time eternal. On a quest to make chocolate chip cookies, it was discovered by my young charges that no chocolate chips remained in the cupboard. Instead, we found a bag of Hershey bars. So, we chopped them up into large chip-sized pieces and used them instead.
You know what happens when you use chunks of chocolate bars instead of chocolate chips in cookies, besides the inevitable Chocolate Chunk Cookies?
WHY CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES TASTE SO GOOD
First, they’re bigger, so you get these pockets of chocolate explosions when you eat the cookies. Second, the edges melt into the cookie dough, permeating more of the cookie with chocolatey-ness.
Chocolate chips are formulated to hold their shape while baking (less cocoa butter); chocolate bars are made to melt the moment they enter your mouth.
MILK VS. DARK CHOCOLATE
We used milk chocolate bars for this recipe because that’s what we had. While milk chocolate was a favorite when I was a kid, it is less so now. I usually prefer the darkest chocolate available.
However, in this recipe, the milk chocolate chunks work great. They give a warm creaminess to the cookie that wouldn’t be there if you used semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate. That said, use whatever chocolate you like.
WHY BROWN THE BUTTER
We also brown the butter in the first step of the recipe. Browned butter adds a wonderful nutty aroma to the dough. It’s an added step, but one well worth doing.
HOW TO STORE AND FREEZE THESE COOKIES
Cool your cookies and store them in an airtight container. They’ll keep for about five days before starting to dry out and become crumbly. (At which point, they’re still delicious! Just more crumbly.)
You can freeze either the unbaked cookie dough or the baked cookies:
To freeze cookie dough: Scoop the cookies onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment or a silicon baking mat. Transfer to the freezer and let freeze until the cookie dough balls are solid. Then transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to a freezer container and freeze for up to one month. Frozen cookie dough balls can be baked directly from the freezer; just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.
To freeze baked cookies: Cool completely, then transfer to a sheet of aluminum foil. You can stake the cookies two or three high. Wrap the foil tightly around the cookies, then transfer to a plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to three months and thaw on the counter before eating.
Browned Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies Recipe
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: Makes about 3 dozen cookies
We brown the butter first in this recipe because browned butter adds wonderful flavor to the dough. If you are short on time or don’t want to bother, you can skip browning the butter, just start with room temperature butter.
1 cup (2 sticks, 8 ounces, 225 g) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces milk chocolate (or semi-sweet or dark if you prefer) bars, roughly chopped into chunks, about 2 cups
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 Preheat oven to 350°F.
2 Brown the butter: Melt the butter in a medium sized, thick-bottomed, stainless steel saucepan (use stainless steel so you can tell when the butter has browned) on medium heat.
Continue to cook while the butter goes through various stages of bubbling up and releasing its moisture. Whisk frequently over several minutes.
When you start to smell the nutty aroma of the butter browning, and you can whisk aside some of the foam to see small browned bits at the bottom of the pan, remove from heat and pour off into a bowl. Do not dawdle at this point as it is easy for the butter to go from browned to burnt.
3 Whisk together dry ingredients: Place the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a bowl and vigorously whisk together.
4 Beat brown butter and sugars, then add eggs and vanilla: Pour browned butter into the bowl of a stand-up mixer (if you don’t have a mixer, you can just beat by hand). Add the sugars and beat until smooth. Add the eggs, beating after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and beat for 3 more minutes.
5 Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, then stir in chocolate chunks: Stir the flour mixture into the butter sugar mixture a third at a time. Stir in the chocolate chunks and the nuts (if using).
Up to this point you can make ahead a day or two and store the cookie dough in the refrigerator until ready to cook.
6 Spoon out cookie dough to lined baking sheet: Line cookie sheets with Silpat or parchment paper (or just lightly butter) rimmed cookie sheets.
Spoon out heaping tablespoon hunks of batter onto the cookie sheets, separated by at least 2 inches, allowing room for the cookies to spread as they cook. You may need to work in batches.
6 Bake at 350°F for about 12 minutes, the edges of the cookies should be just a little browned. Remove from the oven, let cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Then remove the cookies to cool completely on a rack.