Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans: Joy in the kitchen

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What happens when you type “best chocolate chip cookie recipe” into your Google search box?

Well, for one, you get “about 10,800,000 results (0.75 seconds),” as Google is proud to let you know.

And proud they should be – remember looking for recipes pre-Internet?

photo 1The bookshelves… (These are only two of the eight-and-a-half shelves I have dedicated to my cookbooks.)

photo 2The recipe boxes… (And yes, I did knock one of the boxes on the floor while reaching for another, and its contents splayed out on the carpet like a deck of cards. Some things just can’t be staged.)

photoAnd, of course, the manila folders stuffed with printouts and tear-outs and hand-scribbled notes on newspaper clippings. If you’re over a certain age (like, maybe, 40?), I guarantee you have at least one overstuffed manila folder holding recipes you thought you’d make… someday.

These days, though, when you’re looking for “the best chocolate chip cookie recipe,” all the options are right at your fingertips.

UntitledAll 10,800,000 of them (about).

So, where did I find the newest addition to my ever-growing collection of “the best chocolate chip cookie” recipes?

From a friend, of course.

Oh sure, the Internet was still involved. After all, how do friends exchange a new favorite recipe these days? By writing it out, slipping it into an envelope, applying a stamp, and driving to the nearest mailbox to send it on its way?

As my son might say, “Mom, that is SO OLD.”

No – we simply email one another.

Subject line: You HAVE to make these!

I recently got such an email from a work colleague. Aime was blown away by some chocolate chip cookies she’d just baked.

“BEST EVER,” she wrote.

Well, who can resist the siren song of “BEST EVER” anything, right? I emailed right back for details.

Turns out the recipe came from Joy Wilson – she of “Joy the Baker,” a “BEST EVER” food blog.

Joy is a former West Coast professional baker and author, recently self-transplanted to New Orleans, where she continues to blog from her new (and very exciting, food-wise) surroundings. We’ve had the pleasure of hosting her at our King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center in Vermont, where she taught an awesome pie class. And she’ll be back for another visit this fall.

But in the meantime, she’s given us permission to share this cookie recipe from her first book. Joy’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans are, indeed, some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted, in any genre.

Are they the BEST EVER chocolate chip cookies?

Well… my lips are sealed. (So that I don’t devour yet another of these flavorful cookies, aromatic from brown butter, crunchy on the edges, soft/bendable in the center, a good 3″ in diameter, and absolutely heaven-scent. Er, sent.)

You tell me: are these chocolate chip cookies the BEST EVER? Give ‘em a try, and share your opinion at the bottom of this post.

joy1Let’s start by making the brown butter.

Place 8 tablespoons butter (1/2 cup) in a medium skillet. Melt the butter over medium heat, swirling it in the pan occasionally. It’ll foam and froth as it cooks, and start to crackle and pop.

Once the crackling stops, keep a close eye on the melted butter, continuing to swirl the pan at intervals. The butter will become fragrant, and brown bits will form in the bottom.

Once the bits are amber brown (about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes or so after the sizzling stops), remove the butter from the burner and pour it into a small bowl, bits and all.

IMG_5474Allow the brown butter to cool for 20 minutes.

joy2Beat 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) room-temperature butter with 1 cup light brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Top picture at left: not smooth. Top picture at right: smooth.

Beat in 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon molasses.

Pour the cooled brown butter into the bowl, along with 1/2 cup granulated sugar (which I added after the picture was taken, if you’re following along visually). Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth. The batter will lighten in color and become fluffy.

joy3See how much lighter the batter is (upper left)?

Add 1 large egg, and 1 large egg yolk, beating for 1 minute.

Add 2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon baking soda, beating on low speed just until everything is incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips and 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans. Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and incorporate any sticky stuff into the dough.

joy4Scoop the dough onto a piece of parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap. Flatten it slightly into a thick disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

About 15 minutes before you’re ready to begin baking, preheat your oven to 350°F, with the racks in the center/upper third.

IMG_5507Scoop the dough in 2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheets. A tablespoon cookie scoop, slightly heaped, is your tool of choice here. If you have a scale, each cookie will weigh about 1 ounce (28g).

Leave about 2″ between the cookies; they’ll spread as they bake.

IMG_5505Sprinkle the cookies with coarse sea salt, to taste — as much or as little as you like.

joy5Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re golden brown. The longer you bake them, the crunchier they’ll be.

For the cookies to attain your own personal idea of textural perfection, bake a couple of cookies first, remove them from the oven, and let them cool. If they’re the exact texture you like, bake the others the same way.

Yeah, it seems like a waste of time and oven heat. But how much better to end up with 2 dozen perfectly baked cookies, compared to 2 dozen cookies that are over- or under-baked, right?

IMG_5564Remove the cookies from the oven. Go ahead, enjoy one warm.

IMG_5557Just for fun, I made Joy’s cookies side by side with one of the other recipes that came up on the first page of my “best chocolate chip cookie recipe” Google search.

That’s Joy’s cookie on the left. NO comparison – texture, flavor, appearance, or any other measure of goodness. Joy’s cookie is the winner.

IMG_5562Talk about standing out in the crowd (of 10,800,000 – about).

Read, bake, and review Joy’s recipe for Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Pecans.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel was born in Wisconsin, grew up in New England, and graduated from Brown University. She was a journalist in Massachusetts and Maine before joining the King Arthur Flour Company in 1990, where she's been ever since. Author or co-author of three King Arthur ...

comments

  1. Kate

    I love Joy! Aside from Baker’s Banter, Joy the Baker is the only other baking blog that I read. I haven’t tried this cookie recipe yet, but her Brown Butter Blueberry Muffins (also in her cookbook) are a family favorite. Adding brown butter to anything seems like a good idea…

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Kate, Joy’s a lot of fun, isn’t she? And her recipes are yummy. Brown butter does indeed seem to add an intensity of butter flavor; it’s a nice touch. Thanks for connecting here – PJH

    2. glasslassie

      Absolutely the best chocolate chip cookie on earth. i have a friend who does small jobs for me and will only take payment in chocolate chip cookies. The last 2 years I can’t count the number of different recipes I have tried. Hands down this are the one the took the prize as the BEST. Not too sweet and the browned butter gives a wonderfully nutty flavor. Had carpet layers here the day I baked and got thumbs up from everyone and one asked if he could order a couple dozen and would I make them for sale. So thanks for a great recipe.

  2. Kat

    I made these cookies right after I ordered Joy’s book. They are ABSOLUTELY THE ONLY chocolate chip cookie I will ever make. They are the embodiment of my idea a perfect Chocolate Chip cookie. I’ve made them multiple times over the last year for friends and always get the same reaction….”Oh. My. GAWD!” Accompanied by the groan, the head tilt and the eye roll :) Meeting Joy is on my bucket list if I ever get myself to NoLa.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I REALLY need to try these cookies this weekend, I used to put brown butter on just about everything…so why not in cookies? Jon@KAF

    2. Kat

      Just make sure you have someone to foist them off on, or you could be in serious jeopardy of eating the entire batch. I only make them when I have people to give them too. Safer for my hips that way!

    3. The Baker's Hotline

      This is very true. It is amazing how fast a couple dozen cookies “disappear” when they are hanging around the kitchen. Jon@KAF

  3. Sasha | Global Table Adventure

    Love Joy, love these cookies, love this post! Also, loved the KAF courses I took way back in the day. I still laugh when I think about all the breads we made and how my friend and I brought them back to our apartment on our motorcycle… tucked in every nook and cranny!

    Reply
  4. Foodfetish

    This recipe looks great! What if I only have dark brown sugar on hand? Can this recipe be doubled? I want to take a large batch to share with my co-workers. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Dark brown is fine, but I would skip the added molasses. This recipe should double fine, though I can’t speak for tripling or more. :) Jon@KAF

  5. Paul from Ohio

    Wanted to make Chocolate Chip Cookies two days ago, but didn’t – but NOW, OH YEAH, I will DEFINITELY BE going for these. Awesomeness in the mere words and glorious photos that clearly illustrate ‘fluffy’ butter to my wondering brain……..oh oh oh, thanks for sharing with us PJ and Joy for the original creation.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      I also really enjoy the pictures that follow our descriptions! “Fluffy” for one person may be VERY different to the next. Jon@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Feel free to omit or replace with a different nut, dried fruit or something else (crushed pretzels, chips, cacao nibs). Jon@KAF

  6. KT

    Similar to a recipe I use, but will certainly try Joy’s, it sounds even better than my recipe. For cookie lovers who live alone, I portion out cookies on silicon lined baking sheet and freeze. When frozen solid, I transfer to freezer container so when I want a cookie or 2, I can bake them fresh. I have had good results with this for cookies, biscuits, scones, etc.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      This is always a good idea! Though I fear a frozen ball of cookie dough sounds rather tempting as the temperatures go up. Jon@KAF

  7. Sarah

    Do you think I could make these with whole-wheat flour? WW absorbs liquid differently, I think, but I never remember if it absorbs more or less than white flour. Also, I don’t care for molasses. Is it a small enough amount to leave out entirely or should I substitute honey like I do for most things?
    I absolutely LOVE browned butter. Browned butter frosting from the 1970′s Betty Crocker is the BEST for banana or spice cake. I’ve even done frosting with half browned butter and half softened butter to get both good flavor and spreadability for a cake contest (and I won grand prize!).

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You can certainly give WW a try, but you will likely need to add 2-3 tsp of water per cup of WW. I would replace the molasses with honey in this case! Happy baking. Jon@KAF

    2. Kat

      I always use White Whole Wheat in these and have zero problems. The molasses is such a small amount that I don’t think it should be noticeable. Especially with all that browned butter deliciousness going on!

  8. Debra

    I love the glimpse of your cookbook shelves! I have the same Vincent and Mary Price cookbook, a gift from my great-grandmother. Mmmm, aspic.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      It really is amazing how many foods we used to cover in gelatin…not my cup of tea. Jon@KAF

  9. Kevin R

    After a previous post I started using the melted butter technique. Works great. However, I really think my recipe has much better flavor…I use half unsalted butter and half crisco, espresso powder, less what sugar, half whole wheat flour with a 1/4 cup of ancient grains flour, toasted pecans/macadamia nuts/toasted almonds, Hersey Heath bits, and Dark Choc chips. It is not to sweet, but continues to have lots of flavor layers to please the pallet!

    Reply
  10. Lee

    Hi PJ, thanks for all your great blog posts! I have a question about the brown butter. I think I remember reading somewhere that you should only use unsalted butter, but am not sure. Does it matter? The recipe doesn’t specify. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      I used unsalted butter, Lee, but that’s an interesting question. Most recipes online call for unsalted; but one person said she thought her salted butter made a more evenly brown butter, which would make sense since the salt turns brown, as well as the milk solids. Sounds like an interesting experiment for next time I brown butter. Thanks for surfacing this – PJH

    2. Paul

      The reason I was given for using unsalted butter is control. Different regions have different levels of salt in the butter. If you start with unsalted butter then whatever butter you add is the saltiness you get. There is salt in the recipe so if it helps brown the butter you could add it in at that point.

  11. Amanda

    How timely! I actually had the same Google search up in another window when I saw your post on my Facebook feed. :) I promised my husband chocolate chip cookies to accompany him on a month-long business trip, and these look waaaaay better than the other recipes I’d found. I dearly love an excuse to use brown butter– thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Amanda, I think you’ll be very happy indeed with these cookies – I definitely am. I think you’re husband’s in for a nice treat. Enjoy – PJH

  12. Ashley E

    Oh my!
    Those recipes look like the perfect candidates to be scanned in! I bought a desktop scanner this year (vertical — much faster than a flatbed) and love it. I would be glad to scan in the 10,800,000 recipes for you just to get the chance to peruse them! (Seriously — I highly recommend getting those recipe cards scanned in just to preserve that great collection.)

    You had me at pecans + chocolate. Those count as increasing my daily intake of nuts and vegetables in my world. ;-)

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Ashley, I really should scan them sometime, so they’d be easy to share. Some are from the early 1900s, written in fountain pen; and there’s a bunch of “household tips,” too. If you ever need to know how to clean a straw hat – or make head cheese – I’m your woman! :) PJH

    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      It’s a HUGE read! It’s just wonderful, isn’t it? Got it on sale, too – even better! :) PJH

  13. Julie

    Any suggestion as to a shorter baking time for smaller cookies? I’d rather get more/smaller than less/bigger cookies.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The baking time of your smaller cookies will depend on how small you make them. If you made cookies half the size of those in the recipe, with just one tablespoon of dough in each cookie, you might try baking them for 8 – 10 minutes. ~Jaydl@KAF

  14. Carolyn

    Hi – I love browned butter in cookies. Even if a recipe calls for a solid fat, I will brown the butter and then let it solidify so that I get the flavour of the browned butter. The folks over at Serious Eats did a major investigation into what makes the perfect Chocolate Chip cookies. One of the things they stumbled upon was mixing the egg and sugar together first, letting it sit for a bit, then mixing in the melted, cooled butter. I have changed to doing this for all of my drop cookies (oatmeal, chocolate chip, etc.) and it’s made a remarkable difference. That coupled with the overnight refrigeration of the dough have stacked up to make a perfect cookie (imho).

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Brown butter absolutely adds a wonderful flavor addition to any cookie and thanks for all the tips on cookie making! Jocelyn@KAF

    2. PJ Hamel , post author

      Carolyn, thanks so much for sharing this tip. I’m definitely going to try it next time I make drop cookies. PJH

  15. monica6593

    I got THREE dozen out of this recipe. I measured each scoop and it was around an ounce and I followed exactly the recipe..Yummy cookies by the way – will make this my go-to chocolate chip recipe from now on. The raw dough was so delicious I had to stop myself from eating it all – the brown butter flavor really came through!

    Reply
  16. Roxlet

    I made these cookies for my family, and while they “liked” them, they felt that they were not as good as the chocolate chip cookies I usually make. My recipe is a riff on the old Toll House recipe, but with different amounts of sugars, more vanilla and more chips. Back to the old recipe!

    Reply
  17. mshlm

    Love chocolate chip cookies! I don’t bake much, so what changes would I need for high altitude?

    Reply
  18. Marti

    I love Joy the Baker and I love chocolate chip cookies but somewhere in all that love, my cookies turned out rock-hard. Tasty when dunked but not the chew texture I had hoped for. Am going to try a new version later today if I don’t get distracted by the prospect of cream cheese-marbled brownies..

    Reply
    1. PJ Hamel , post author

      Tracey, it’s a wonderful “secret” that more and more bakers are discovering – the flavor of browned butter is really wonderful. Glad we could share it with you. PJH

  19. Christina

    Started baking these right after I got Joy’s first book. We haven’t made another cookie since because these are just so gosh darned good!

    Reply
  20. Paige C.

    I’ve been making these cookies since the day her cookbook came out – no joke, I pre-ordered that cookbook and that was my first recipe from it! It is hands down the best and has made me super popular. MAKE THESE COOKIES!

    Reply
  21. IdaDohoney

    These cookies have to be the best and I can hardly wait to make them. Would I use the same measurements for gluten free?

    Reply
  22. Kate

    I experimented with brown butter cookies a few months ago after reading this fascinating article on the science of chocolate chip cookies from Serious Eats: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html?utm_content=buffercd607&utm_source=buffer&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Buffer

    It’s a little long, but I highly recommend it. I will definitely be trying Joy’s recipe soon and referring to these pictures the whole time. Is the trick to browning butter to just let it sit in the pan and not necessarily stir it? That might be my problem.

    My current favorite cookie is Shelly’s recipe from Cookies and Cups (http://cookiesandcups.com/). It’s so simple and try as I might, I haven’t screwed it up yet!

    Reply
  23. Jeff See

    I make a similar recipe but never let the butter get that deep, dark brown. I’ll have to bite the bullet and let it go longer.

    Reply
  24. Gayla

    I baked these last night and mine did not spread out. I double checked the ingredients and steps and I don’t know what I did wrong. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Amy Trage

      Often, when cookies don’t spread properly, it can either be that the dough had too much flour, or that it was over-mixed (the eggs were beaten in too much and air was incorporated) which would cause the cookies to rise like cakes rather than spread outward. ~Amy

  25. Fabiola

    Hi. I have followed this recipe and others to the T… and for some reason my cookies come out thick and not chewy. It’s so sad. I’m in southern california so I don’t think altitude has much to do with it, but I can’t figure out the problem. Any suggestions???

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Fabiola, it may be that you have a little too much flour in your measuring cups. A little extra flour would make the cookies thicker and drier. You might try fluffing the flour in its container, spooning the flour into the measuring cup, and then sweeping the cup level. This should give you slightly lighter cups of flour, and chewier cookies.~Jaydl@KAF

  26. zekebadboy

    I bake something at lest once a week and usually more often to take to work, but those cookies got the most raves of anything I ever made one fellow said it was the most perfect cookie he has ever eaten. If your friend had made these before the Toll House lady everyone would be referring to Joy’s Cookies instead. Positively the best of the best! If you use more chips (as I did once) it ruins the balance of favors. Absolutely cannot be improved upon!

    Reply
  27. Alex

    Since the recipe calls for a combination of brown sugar, granulated white sugar, and molasses could I use all brown sugar (since the combination of white sugar and molasses makes brown sugar)? If so, what quantity of brown sugar should I use?

    Reply
    1. Susan Reid

      Alex, leaving the molasses out will change the texture of the cookie. Molasses is an invert sugar, and one of it’s roles is to give you that bendiness that is so endearing.
      Susan

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