Sunday, September 14, 2014

Browned Butter White Chocolate Chip Cookies

 On the first day of my freshman year of high school, I was simultaneously more nervous and more excited than I think I had ever been. Coming from a tiny school where I knew the names of everybody in the building (and probably those of their parents, too), stepping into a school holding over 2,500 people every day was a bit of a shock. I knew hardly anybody, I got lost multiple times, and I feared that the next four years would be the longest of my life.
 It could only get better from there, and I quickly made friends and came to know and love my new teachers and classes. Days rushed by and blurred into weeks, months and years; and now, I'm a senior spending my Sundays writing college application supplements. It seems like five minutes ago that I was trying to write my first essay for an intimidating English teacher I was determined to prove myself to.
My friend who graduated this spring recently advised me to really appreciate every minute of this coming year, because it will go by faster than I realize. I know that in the blink of an eye, I'll find myself in my college dorm, looking back on this post and laughing at myself; and while I can't wait to start that new, exciting part of my life, I'm also trying to hang onto the little things I won't have anymore in a year. One of these being the ability to make delicious cookies for a school club meeting late at night, just because I feel like it - without getting lost trying to find my dorm's kitchen.
Browned Butter White Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted from Joy the Baker)

                                                             2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
                                                                        1 teaspoon salt
                                                                  1 teaspoon baking soda
                               1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
                                                          1 cup packed light brown sugar
                                                          2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
                                                                    1 teaspoon molasses
                                                                1/2 cup granulated sugar
                                                                             1 large egg
                                                                        1 large egg yolk
                                                               1 cup white chocolate chips
                                                               coarse sea salt for sprinkling

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.
Start by browning 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter.  In a medium skillet, melt butter over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted completely, it will begin to foam and froth as it cooks.  The butter will also crackle and pop.  That’s the water cooking out of the butter.  Swirl the pan occasionally, and keep an eye on the melted butter.  The butter will become very fragrant and brown bits will begin to form at the bottom of the pan.  Once the bits are an amber brown, immediately remove pan from the heat and pour browned butter (bits and all) into a small bowl.  Leaving the butter in the pan will burn it.  Allow butter to cool for 20 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream remaining 1/2 cup of butter with brown sugar.  Cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and molasses and beat until incorporated.
Once the brown butter has cooled slightly, pour the butter (brown bits and all) into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.  Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute more.
Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is evenly mixed.  Add the flour mixture, all at once to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in chocolate chips.
Spoon batter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap and wrap into a disk or cylinder and seal at both ends.  Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough by the two tablespoonful onto prepared sheets.  Sprinkle with sea salt.  Be sure to leave about 2 inches of space between each cookie.
Bake for 12 to 14 minutes of until cookies are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.  Serve warm or allow to cool completely. 
      -makes about 2 dozen cookies