Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Have you ever eaten a gourmet cookie and wondered why they taste so much better than an ordinary chocolate chip cookie? It’s not just the add in’s (the type of chocolate chips, the quality of vanilla, the type of brown sugar, although each of those make a difference). The secret is in the dough. It’s really a simple step and just takes an extra 5-8 minutes but the flavor improvement will make you say, “Wow!”  “Shhh, don’t tell anyone; the secret ingredient is browned butter.”

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter (1 stick softened, 1 stick browned)
2 and 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3/4 cup chocolate chunks
3/4 cup Kraft Caramel bits
Sea salt for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Soften one stick of butter. Brown the second stick of butter. To brown butter: Unwrap second stick of butter, cut into 20 pieces, and melt over medium heat in a small saucepan. From this point on, stir butter the whole time with a wire whisk. The butter will go through a progression of steps before it turns brown. The butter will melt, foam up, and then start popping (this is the water separating out from the milk solids and evaporating). Right before the butter browns it will separate into oil and tiny pieces of milk fat. Now you are to the crucial part and things start happening pretty fast. Look for the milk solids will turn caramel brown.   Watch closely, the milk solids can go from the desired caramel color to burnt (the color of ground coffee) in seconds. If you burn the butter start over with a clean dry saucepan. As soon as it turns caramel color, remove pan from heat and immediately pour into a heat safe glass bowl to stop the cooking process. Refrigerate butter for 20 minutes, to cool, before using it in the recipe.

While browned butter is cooling measure flour, salt and baking soda.  Stir together. Using a mixer, mix the softened stick of butter and the dark brown sugar on medium speed for 3 minutes or until it changes color. Add vanilla, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, and browned butter; beat 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add egg and egg yolk; beat 1 minute. Add half of flour, mix on low speed. Add other half of flour, mix, scrape sides and mix again. Stir in chocolate chunks and caramel bits by hand. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough onto baking sheets using a 1.5-tablespoon size scoop. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Published in The News and Neighbor on August 10, 2013

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