the sweet bee sting

Monday, January 31, 2011

Brown Sugar Cookies
3:42 PM

I’m not a big sugar cookie fan, to be honest. Why have a plain ol’ sugar cookie when I could have cookies with chocolate or nuts or molasses? But these are so worth while. Why? Browned butter. Who doesn’t love that? (Side note: Did that last sentence make me sound like Ina? Am I okay with that? Should I delete it? Too many questions that need serious, in-depth consideration, I know.)

These cookies have won the hearts of boys for me and even if those relationships never panned out, at least the cookies were good. The fine – and might I add thorough – folks at Cook’s Illustrated have graced us with this wonderful recipe for cookies you won't want to stop eating.

brown sugar cookies 1brown sugar cookies 2In the lonely, blustery days of late January these cookies are a nice companion when you’re hunkered down in your flannel pajamas, heartsore, watching marathon episodes of Mad Men and trying to avoid leaving the house. All of which I’ve been doing lately, even though I’m looking forward to that foot of snow we’re supposed to be getting Tuesday night. Snow forts and sledding, here I come.

allfourbrown sugar cookies 8brown sugar cookies 9P.S. Does Mad Men make anyone else crave Lucky Strikes and Highballs like there’s no tomorrow? That Jon Hamm and Christina Hendricks make it look oh-so-glamorous...

brown sugar cookies 10

Brown Sugar Cookies
From Cook's Illustrated
Yields 2 dozen cookies

I would not recommend a non-stick pan for browning the butter, since the dark coating makes it difficult to tell how dark the butter is. I, however, use a nonstick pan for it every time (that's all I have) and luckily haven't burned any yet. It just takes a bit longer to get the desired color, usually around 10 to 15 minutes for me. This recipe make 2 dozen cookies but I don't divide the batter into 24 equal portions, I just scoop and roll so I usually get more by making them a bit smaller. You can make them as big or small as you like. And sometimes, when no one's looking, I add in a pinch of cinnamon. Because I just can't help myself.

14 tablespoons, or 1 3/4 sticks of unsalted butter
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
2 cups of packed brown sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg plus one egg yolk
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Melt 10 tablespoons of butter in pan over medium heat and continue to cook until butter is a dark golden brown and nutty, stirring occasionally so the milk solids don't burn. Remove pan from heat and add in the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to melt, then set aside to cool.

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow dish or bowl mix the granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of packed brown sugar until combined and set aside; this is for rolling the cookies in before baking. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

In a large bowl whisk remaining 1 3/4 cups of brown sugar, salt and browned butter until the lumps are gone. Add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and whisk until thoroughly combined. Scrape down bowl and add the flour mixture and mix until smooth. Be careful not to over mix!

Divide the dough into 24 portions, about 2 tablespoons each, and roll between your hands into balls. Working in batches, toss the balls in the sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are browned but still puffy. The centers should still be soft but the edges should look set. The cookies might look underdone in the cracks, but that's what you're looking for. Don't be tempted to over bake them! Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool all the way.

Stored in an airtight container, these cookies should stay good for a week or two. Even stale and crunchy, they taste awfully good dunked in a cup of tea!