‘Tis the season to break out my tiny, sparkling Christmas tree, wrap a red bow around Shiloh’s collar, and bake endless amounts of cookies. I love hosting Cookie Swaps to exchange cookies with local friends. I set out a pitcher of rum-spiked eggnog and everyone brings a few dozen of their favorite cookies to sample and swap. At the end of the night, each sugar and rum-buzzed guest has a full stash of assorted cookies ready for Santa.
I sought Joy Wilson’s (Joy the Baker’s) genius chocolate chip cookie recipe for inspiration this year. I love Joy’s approach to browning half of the butter on the stove to achieve a nutty, intensely flavorful batter. She also chills the dough before baking which allows the flavors to meld and when baked, creates a cookie with bounce and body. I add cinnamon to everything, so added a pinch to the dry ingredients, and also added chopped toffee for a salty sweet crunch alongside the pecans and big chunks of dark chocolate.
Since Cookie Swaps are half about taste and half about wow-factor, I decided to melt some additional dark chocolate to splatter Jackson Pollock-style across the baked beauties.
Brown Butter, Toffee, Pecan and Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted from The Joy the Baker Cookbook)
16 T unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 t salt
1 t baking soda
1 c light brown sugar, packed
1/2 t dried cinnamon
2 t vanilla extract
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c bittersweet chocolate chunks
3 (1.4 oz) chocolate-covered English toffee bars (I used Heath), coarsely chopped
1/2 c coarsely chopped pecans
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
Place 8 T unsalted butter in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, allowing the butter to bronze. The butter will foam a bit and crackle after the first 5 minutes or so. Keep cooking and stirring for a few more minutes until the melted butter is a rich amber color, about 2 to 3 more minutes. Pour the melted butter into a small bowl, bits and all, and allow to cool for at least 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the remaining 8 T unsalted butter with the brown sugar for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Pour the cooled brown butter, bits and all, as well as the granulated sugar. Beat for 2 minutes, until smooth, light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, and beat for one more minute.
Add the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and beat on low speed just until everything is incorporated, about 1 minute. With a wooden spoon, fold in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chunks, the chopped toffee bits and pecans, and stir to evenly distribute into the dough. Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before baking.
About 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Scoop the dough into 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and transfer to a wire rack with a spatula. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Once the cookies have cooled. Melt 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between each, until melted and smooth. With a fork, spatter the melted chocolate across the cooled cookies. Enjoy right away or cool for about 15-20 minutes in the refrigerator if you prefer to set the melted chocolate. Makes about 3 dozen.
Swap til you drop!