Brown Sugar Cookies

Browned butter and dark brown sugar combined equals something delightful. These cookies are pretty sweet yet I’m pretty sure you’ll find yourself reaching for a second one.

We came across the original recipe in Cook’s Illustrated. While we enjoy reading the magazine, and watching the TV programs by the same producers, I think they tend to overwrite their recipes. I’ve tried to simplify the instructions while giving you advance notice that some ingredients are used in different steps.

Brown Sugar Cookies
Servings: ~30 cookies
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 14 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar, divided
  • 2 cups plus Tbsp. all-purpose flour (~300g)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 egg and 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line 2 rimmed baking pans with parchment.
  2. Place 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a the bowl of a stand mixer and set it aside. Heat the remaining butter in a stainless-steel skillet over medium heat until melted. Continue to cook until the butter is dark golden brown and you smell a nutty aroma. You’ll want to swirl the melted butter after it melts to ensure even browning. Add the browned butter to mixer bowl and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. While the butter cools mix the granulated sugar with 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar in a shallow dish, such as a pie plate, until well combined. In a separate bowl whisk together the dry ingredients (flour, soda, powder and salt). Finally combine the egg, extra yolk and vanilla in a small bowl and beat until blended. All 3 bowls can be set aside.
  4. When the butter is cooled add the remaining dark brown sugar and beat until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the egg mixture. Beat again until combined and scrape once more. Finally add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. This is a dense dough so you might want to give your mixer a break if it sounds like it is straining.
  5. Use a disher to scoop out 12 balls of dough. Roll each between your hands and then toss with the reserved sugar. Place 12 coated dough balls on one of the baking sheets. Bake for 7 minutes, rotate the pan, and finish baking for 6 additional minutes.
  6. While the first pan of cookies bakes you can scoop up, form and coat the remaining dough. I usually usually end up with about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

Notes:
I use a #40 disher to get ~30 cookies. You can tell the disher size by the number stamped into the sweep inside the bowl of the disher. In theory the stamped number indicates the number of scoops necessary to fill a 32 oz. container. Dishers are widely used in food services to control portion size.

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Soft M&M Cookies

I made these for a pot-luck event I attended recently. I had a partial bag of M&Ms that I wanted to use up (so I wouldn’t keep eating them by the handful). I decided I wanted a soft cookie rather than a crisp one. There are multiple ways of doing that, though I’ve had varying degrees of success with them. More brown sugar than white seems to work best for me. The rest in the fridge helps as well.

These stayed fairly soft for the first couple of days after I made them. After that they started to get a bit stale. 5 seconds in the microwave did a far job in reviving them.

Soft M&M Cookies
Servings: 3 dozen
Prep time: 10 minutes plus minimum 2 hour rest
Total time: 3 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups M&Ms

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, cornstarch, soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
  2. Combine the egg and vanilla in a small bowl; scramble until combined. Set aside.
  3. In the bowl of a stand-mixer, combine the butter and sugars. Beat on medium high until well-creamed and butter has lightened in color. Add the egg/vanilla mixture. Beat until combined with the creamed butter and sugar.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add the M&M and fold in until well distributed.
  5. Line a baking sheet with plastic wrap. Using a #40 disher to scoop out cookie balls. Fill the baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can actually keep them in the fridge for a day or more in this state. See the notes at the end for longer storage options.
  6. When the dough has rested for at least 2 hours preheat your oven to 350°F. Line another baking sheet with parchment and place 12 cookie dough balls on the sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking. The cookies are done when the edges have just set. The tops will appear slightly underdone.
  7. Allow the cookies to rest on the baking rack for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Repeat baking process until all your cookies are baked.
  8. Cookies should be cooled completely before storing in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Notes:
Unbaked cookie dough balls can be stored in an air-tight container, in the fridge, for up to 5 days. Bake them up all at once or enjoy freshly baked, warm cookies, for a week.

This recipe borrows heavily from one by Averie Cooks.

Gingersnap Cookies

This recipe yields a cookie full of ginger flavor and just a bit of heat. It is based on a recipe from the November 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. I reworked the instructions so they follow the way I made the cookies.

Gingersnap Cookies
Servings: 32 cookies
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: approx. 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • pinch cayenne
  • 340g (about 2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp.) unsalted butter (straight from the fridge is fine), cut into 1 Tbsp. slices
  • 1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated (about 2 Tbsp.)
  • 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar (used in step 8).

Directions:

  1. Combine the ground spices in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Add the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. Set aside.
  3. Place butter in a cold skillet (preferably not non-stick or darkly colored). Heat skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Once melted continue to cook for 4-6 minutes. The butter will foam and take on a brownish color. The milk solids will darken as well. When foaming ends and the butter smells slightly nutty transfer it to a large bowl.
  4. Add the spices and mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Add the brown sugar, molasses and grated ginger; mix to combine.
  6. Add the flour/soda/salt and stir to incorporate. Don’t over mix; you want all of the flour to be incorporated into the dough however white flecks on the dough aren’t a problem.
  7. Press a piece of plastic wrap over the dough and refrigerate for 60 minutes.
  8. Arrange the oven racks so one is in the top third of the oven and the other is in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper.
  9. Put the granulated sugar in a bowl or pie plate. Scoop dough with a #40 disher. Roll each scoop into a ball and then toss dough ball in sugar. You should be able to get 16 balls on a sheet pan.
  10. Bake first tray for 16 minute on the top rack.
  11. Rotate first tray 180 degrees and place it on the bottom rack. Put the second tray on the top rack. Bake for 14 minutes.
  12. Remove the first tray from the bottom rack and transfer cookies on parchment to a cooling rack. Move the second tray to the bottom rack and bake for 15 minutes.
  13. Remove second tray from the oven and transfer cookies on parchment to a cooling rack. Cookies are tasty after 15 minutes however allow them to cool completely to get the snap we seek in gingersnap cookies.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Some days you just want something sweet to munch on. These cookies are fairly easy to make, at least they are if you have a big stand mixer. One of the things I like about them is they stay reasonably soft even days after baking. Not that the lot of them tend to last for days. 🙂

C is for Cookie

Oatmeal Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Recipe under the cut