These large, bakery-style cookies are made with richly browned butter, crunchy chopped hazelnuts and premium milk and dark chocolate bars and then lightly salted — the ultimate chocolate chip cookies.
From the time I was 16 through college graduation, I worked at a fast food restaurant that was not too far from my home.
This is actually where I met and fell for my husband, but aside from Zach, I found another great love in the hazy, grease-filled fast-food air, amidst the chicken tenders and curly fries. This affair was conducted clandestinely in the back of the walk-in freezer, ducked beneath the drive-through window, or concealed behind shelves of cup carriers and sauce packets.
It was a love affair with chocolate chip cookies.
Gooey and freshly baked or 11 hours old and dried out from beneath the heat lamp where they sat on display, I didn’t discriminate. My favorite was when a coworker would snag a chunk of the frozen dough from the freezer and split it evenly, discretely, among the staff (E. coli be damned).
In that moment, blissfully savoring each dark chocolate stuffed bite, I was sure that cookies didn’t get any better than this.
But in retrospect, as with so many teenage romances (excluding my real one, which resulted in my marriage, of course) I don’t know what I ever even saw in those cookies, anyway. They are edible, sure, sugary and usually pretty soft, but so… lackluster and basic, and I simply didn’t realize that I could do so much better.
And so I’ve created a cookie truly deserving of the love of our matured and refined taste-buds.
These are not your average fast food cookie, they are deeper, more complex. They are not some cheap fling, and like all good adult relationships they require patience (the browned butter requires time to cool off after you brown it and then the cookies should chill at least overnight), attention (walking away from the butter as it browns can be disastrous, and is a quick way to ruin a quarter pound of butter), and commitment (I’ll admit, these cookies are a bit of a project; not difficult in the assembly but they are made in steps that can take a bit of time) but it pays off in spades.
This recipe starts with carefully browned butter (very carefully, because 3 sticks of butter is a lot to waste if you walk away from the stove and burn it all) which gives the cookies a deep, buttery flavor, and helps make them so soft inside.
I used one and a half of each a milk chocolate and dark chocolate (60%, I always use Ghirardelli) candy bar and chopped the pieces ranging from very fine to larger and chunkier so that there is chocolate infused in each bite.
Plenty of chopped hazelnuts also provide a hearty crunch in each deliriously flavorful mouthful, and a slight sprinkle of sea salt over the golden cookie-tops takes the flavor to a new level of slightly-salted sweet.
Slightly golden around the edges, soft and melt-in-your-mouth centers, gobs of chocolate and chock-full-of nuts, these cookies are the right dessert partner for you now. These cookies are what you deserve.
Thank you, fast food cookies, for helping me appreciate how delicious and satisfying a really great chocolate chip cookie can be.
Brown Butter Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies
- 3 sticks butter
- 2 cups light brown sugar packed
- 1 cup sugar granulated
- 3 large eggs preferably room temperature
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup chopped hazelnuts
- 6 oz premium dark chocolate bars (I used Ghirardelli 60%), chopped into fine pieces to small chunks).
- 6 oz premium milk chocolate bars chopped into fine pieces to small chunks
- Flaky sea salt for sprinkling optional
Place your butter in a medium-sized saucepan and melt over low heat.
Increase heat to medium (do not walk away from your butter or it will burn, trust me) and swirl occasionally with a wooden spoon as the butter snaps and crackles.
Let the butter snap and pop (while stirring occasionally), and once this begins to slow, begin to stir the mixture constantly.
The butter will be foamy so it will be difficult to tell once it has begun to brown, but once you begin to smell the unmistakably nutty aroma of browned butter, remove from heat (still stirring continuously) and pour into a heat-proof container (If you accidentally burn the butter, which you will know if you did because it will smellburnt, then do not use it or you will have burnt-tasting cookies.).
Allow butter to cool for at least an hour and a half before proceeding.
Once butter has cooled, combine in KitchenAid (or with hand-mixer) with sugars, beating on medium-speed until well combined
Add eggs one at a time, pausing to scrape down the sides and then beating well after each addition.
Stir in vanilla extract.
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda and salt.
Gradually (with mixer on low-medium speed) add flour mixture to butter mixture, pausing periodically to scrape down sides of bowl (Caution - this dough is thick, you may need to switch over to stirring by hand as my KitchenAid started to struggle).
Stir in hazelnuts and your chocolate chocolate pieces.
Scoop cookie dough into about 3 Tbsp-sized balls (I roll together two leveled scoops from my 1 1/2" Tbsp cookie scoop), place in wax-paper lined container and repeat until all dough has been rolled into balls. Cover with lid or clear wrap and refrigerate at overnight (preferably at least 12 hours, for best flavor).
Once dough has refrigerated, preheat oven to 350F and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Bake 11-14 minutes (be aware that if you let your cookie dough sit out while the first sheets cook, the cookie dough will approach room temperature and will require less time to cook -- that is why there is so much variability here. Most of my cookies took about 12-13 minutes, but I prefer them a bit under-baked. If you do not like yours under-baked, watch for edges that are just beginning to turn a slightly golden brown).
Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if using.
Allow cookies to cool at least 10 minutes on cookie sheet before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely.
If you love adding a new twist to chocolate chip cookies, you might also like these Browned Butter & Bourbon cookies:
Or if you’re looking for something a little more colorful and festive, try these Funfetti Filled Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Or for something easy and not fussy, try this Chocolate Chip Cookie Brittle: