A Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Throughout my career, I have been on the hunt for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies have been around for a while but this recipe is pretty much perfect for my taste. That said, I realize everyone is different, so what I like may not be what you prefer. These cookies, however, are delicious and using a high quality chocolate is paramount to baking a cookie everyone will love.
Because this dough freezes so well, you may want to make a double or triple batch to be pulled out of the freezer any time you want to bake a delicious cookies. (In the recipe section of this post there is a portion adjuster to help you increase the batch size.)
While you can use store-bought chocolate chips, I would suggest that you invest in some quality chocolate such as Valrhona, Donnelly Chocolates, Scharffen Berger, Teuscher of Switzerland, Jacques Torres, Richart, Puccini Bomboni, Vosges or Godiva. Look for a chocolate that is at least 64% cocoa butter or higher. Many of these chocolates are sold in féves (ovals) or rondos (rounds/discs) for commercial uses, but can be chopped down to fit your needs.
Exploring the diverse chocolate varieties from around the world is half the fun of baking these morsels. In professional world I use the French company Valrhona because of their reputation and consistency. The best varieties at Valrhona currently are Ghanaja 70%, Araguani 72%, Caraibe 66%, Manjari 64% and Nyangbo 68%. These may change depending on the harvest from the countries of origin, but purchasing chocolates from a reputable chocolatier will offer a unique taste, one of which will certainly become your favorite.
Why Brown Butter?
This recipe calls for beurre noisette or brown butter. Cooking the butter until it has a nutty fragrance and taste will add a new level to the flavor to the cookie, as does the addition of the espresso powder to bring out the dark, earthy flavors of the chocolate. The other flavor boosting non-traditional addition is the light sprinkling of flaky sea salt over the finished product. I use Maldon Sea Salt, but Murray River, O’Niell’s Atlantic Sea Salt Flakes, La Baleine, Monomoit Wild Handmade Sea Salt, Saltverk Flaky Sea Salt and Falksalt work as well. Each has a different mineral content and can easily enhance the flavor of the chocolate as well as anything you sprinkle it over. As with any dish the quality of the ingredients often separates a mediocre dish from one that is ethereal. Make small batches until you find the combination that suits you. The cookies you will make using this recipe as a guide will be some of the best you will ever taste anywhere.
Toffee: Homemade or Store Bought?
You can purchase fresh toffee to use in this recipe if you don’t want to make your own. Just be certain to chop the toffee down to bite size pieces or pulse grind in a food processor before adding to the cookie dough.
To portion the cookie dough, I use a 1.5oz heavy duty cookie scoop. I form the dough with my hands and use the scoop as a guide to size and shape. This is the easiest way to get a consistent cookie size.
To freeze, form the cookies into rounds and place on non stick parchment paper or a Silpat and place in the freezer without the cookies touching one another. Once the cookies are frozen solid, store them in an airtight freezer container like Ziplock freezer bags. Remember to push as much air out of the package as you can before sealing. Properly frozen cookie dough will keep for 3-9 months. (Good luck keeping them that long!)
Drink pairings: Hot cup of your favorite tea or coffee. Alternatively, enjoy a tall ice-cold glass of fresh milk.
- Mix the dough using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer. Mix the dough until it just comes together and stop! Avoid over mixing the dough as it will make the cookies tougher.
- Make the cookie dough and let rest 24-72hrs in the refrigerator tightly wrapped to keep from taking on any flavors of the fridge. Resting the dough for 24 hrs will not only allow the dough to distribute the moisture more thoroughly, but it will loosen the gluten in the flour to make the cookies more chewy.
- Use a combination of bread and cake flour instead of all purpose flour. All purpose flour works, but not as well. This will give the cookies a crisp edge while the center remains chewy.
- When making the beurre noisette/brown butter, add a pinch of salt to the ice bath under the cooling bowl for the browned butter. Salted ice water will pull the heat out of the butter more rapidly.
- Once you’ve mastered this recipe, make enough to freeze a batch. Properly frozen and sealed cookie dough will remain fresh for up to 9 months.
- Depending on how many you wish to make at one time, you will need multiple sheet pans and parchment paper/Silpats. Typically a standard 1/2 sheet pan can bake 6 cookies at a time. On the day I made mine, I put one in the oven while I was forming and placing the next batch. This worked great since I had one pan in the oven and one getting ready to put in the oven.
Brown Butter Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe is an attempt to make the best chocolate chip cookies ever. I've included a recipe to make a simple homemade toffee. You can skip this step and purchase toffee. Just chop it up to use. Try to locate the very best chocolate and butter you can. These cookies are pushing the envelope on how good chocolate chip cookies can get. Make an extra batch to portion out and freeze for another day.
- 1 ¾ cups butter, unsalted browned (Beurre Noisette) and reset over salted ice bath (Preferably at least 85% + butterfat like Strauss, Lurpak, Kerrygold or Plugra)
- ¾ cup sugar, granulated/caster
- 1 ½ cups sugar, brown/muscovado
- 2 tsp espresso powder (Brands like Pure Espresso Powder, Medaglia D’Oro Espresso)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 ¼ tsp baking soda
- 2 ½ cups cake flour (You can substitute with the same amount of both flours with all purpose flour )
- 1 ⅔ cups bread flour (You can substitute with the same amount of both flours with all purpose flour )
- 2 whole eggs, room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lb chocolate, good quality in fèves or rounds rough chopped (I'm using Valrhona Nyangbo Fèves 68% Cocoa)
- ⅔ cup toffee, chopped or crushed
- ¾ tsp flaky sea salt, like Maldon (optional)
Prepare a medium or standard half sheet pan with non-stick parchment or Silpat.
Combine butter, sugar, salt and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the butter and sugar melt together.
Continue to cook over medium heat stirring gently. Add a candy thermometer and cook the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 285-295°F/145°C. Remove from heat and add the vanilla extract. Stir to incorporate.
Pour onto prepared sheet pan. Thinly spread the toffee out with a heat resistant spatula. Allow the toffee to cool until safe to handle. Once cooled, break down with a clean meat tenderizer or rolling pin. If you wish, you can place the toffee in a gallon Ziplock freezer bag to contain the toffee while it breaks up. Alternatively you can place broken up chunks in a food processor and pulse the toffee to the suit your needs. Reserve.
To prepare the Beurre Noisette/brown butter, slice the butter into large slices and add to a medium sauce pan or sauté pan over low to medium-low heat until the water has evaporated. Turn the heat up to medium. (This step will help the butter to keep from popping and splattering.) Swirl the butter around to help the butter melt. The brown butter/Beurre Noisette will form rather quickly after a few minutes. Watch for the butter to foam. Once the butter foams, remove from the heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into a cool bowl set over another bowl containing an ice bath. Discard the solids in the strainer. This will stop the cooking process. Allow the butter to cool for 10-20 minutes until reset before using. Reserve.
Prepare the dry mix. Add the espresso powder, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, and both flours to a mixing bowl. Using a whisk incorporate the dry mix. Reserve.
Add the reset browned butter to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium until creamed. About 3-4 minutes. With the mixer back on medium, add 1 egg (room temperature) at a time and allow to incorporate. Add the vanilla extract. Add the dry mix on medium low, ⅓ cup at a time and allow to mix in. Once all of the dry mix has been added, mix until all the dough has just come together.
Add the chocolate and toffee chunks. With the mixer on low, mix just long enough to bring everything together and stop.
Turn the cookie dough out onto a work surface and roll into a log. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, twisting off the ends (or place in a gallon Ziplock). Refrigerate for 24-72 hrs before baking.
Baking the cookies
Take the cookie dough out of the refrigerator. Allow the cookie dough to sit out at room temperature for 1-2 hrs before baking. (The cold butter in the cookie dough will have hardened.) Break off enough cookie dough to form into a ball. If available, use the cookie scoop to portion the size of the dough.
Preheat an oven at 350°F/175°C
Line a baking sheet pan with non-stick parchment paper or Silpat.
A standard half sheet pan can accommodate 6 cookies. This will give enough room for the cookies to spread out. Using your thumb, press down gently on the dough and add a small pinch of sea salt. If the cookie dough breaks apart slightly reform the shape.
Place the cookies on the center rack and bake 18-20 minutes at 350°F/175°C. (If you make make a larger sized cookie, add a little more time.)
Remove from the oven and set the sheet pan on a cooling rack. Do not move or touch the cookies yet! They need to cool off to room temperature on the baking sheet. Hot cookies will fall apart. Note: some of the cookies may ooze some toffee. This is ok. Don't try to push it back into the cookie while it is hot. After a while the toffee will become solid again and be quite edible. Try to preserve the shape of the cookies.
Keep the cookies on the sheet pan until set and cooled. Serve right away or keep in airtight container for 2-3 days.