These Browned Butter Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies are all of my favorite things packed into one HUGE cookie: toasted pecans, melty, dark chocolate. But the best part? 2 sticks of browned butter. A sprinkle of sea salt on top gives them just the right finishing touch. They are baked just long enough to not be too doughy, but the middles still have just the right amount of cookie-dough-ness. The toasted pecans add the perfect, not-too-crunchy crunch. And the chocolate puddles sprinkled with flaky sea salt just send me to the moon. The best, I tell you.
When I set out to create a cookie worthy of National Cookie Day and the beginning of the holiday cookie season I knew it had to be truly magnificent on all levels. These browned butter pecan chocolate chunk cookies deliver. Each of the steps I take you through all contribute to layers of flavor that work together harmoniously to create what I feel is the perfect cookie.
What goes into these Browned Butter Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Layer one: browned butter. Oh browned butter, how do I love thee? Browned butter is like magic. Just a few minutes on the stovetop and you've transformed already delicious butter into an even more delicious, toasty, nutty, caramel-like elixir. It takes any recipe (sweet or savory) to whole new heights.
Layer two: brown sugar. Using brown sugar in a cookie is nothing new, but using a heavier brown sugar to white sugar ratio amplifies the caramel notes and adds moisture.
Layer three: Toasted and chopped pecans. Yes, we're toasting them before we add them to the cookie dough. Another step, but so worth it and no, you can't skip it. If you taste a pecan straight out of the bag and then taste a toasted pecan you will understand why I add this step to my recipes. They are just better. The texture is better, the flavor is nuttier. And your cookies will be that much better because of it. UN-toasted nuts in cookies, cakes, scones, etc is one of my pet peeves.
Layer four: Really good, dark chocolate that we chop into chunks. You want those chocolate puddles? This is how you get them. I love chocolate chips, I'm a fan of store-bought chocolate chunks, but I will always, always go for chop-it-yourself, really high quality chocolate bars for my best cookie recipes.
Layer five: Flaky sea salt. Dark chocolate loves salt. The end.
I'm sure we're all very familiar with the internet-famous, face-sized cookies from Levain bakery in NY. They are a pretty basic, very delicious chocolate chip cookie dough, scooped into huge craggy mounds and baked until just set on the edges and still doughy and meltingly delicious on the inside. I developed these browned butter pecan chocolate chunk cookies with those cookies in mind, but this is in no way a copy cat recipe.
Pulling from another famous NY cookie, Jacques Torres' Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies (why do all the great cookies come from NY??) I have you chill this dough for a few hours or overnight if it's easier. I know, another step, but I promise it's worth it! The scooping and chilling step is really important to allow the flour to hydrate and all the flavors to mingle. It also helps them hold their shape in the oven so you have a big, hefty mound of cookie instead of a flat pancake. And speaking of the flour, a mix of all purpose and cake flour gives these the perfect texture.
How do the holidays tie in with this recipe? Well, when I was a child, my dad would always set out a big bowl of shell-on nuts and we'd snack on them all through the holiday season. This is a tradition I've carried on and there is something so special and so old-fashioned about it that just tugs at my nostalgic, sentimental heart strings. Pecans were my dad's favorite and I still remember him showing me how to carefully crack them and use the little pick to get the meat out of the shell. A true labor of love.
To me, a cookie doesn't have to be in the shape of a snowflake, flavored with peppermint, or dusted in powdered sugar to be a holiday cookie.
It just has to be special. It has to evoke a feeling, a memory, make us think of someone we love or someone we miss. That's what these cookies do for me. Surrounding them with greenery and fairy lights doesn't hurt either. I hope you'll give these cookies a try; feel free to sub in your favorite (toasted!) nut for the pecans or just double up the chocolate chunks if you're totally opposed or allergic to nuts. Either way, make some! Santa will thank you.
I'd love to hear what your favorite holiday cookie is and/or a holiday tradition you've carried over from your childhood. Let me know in the comments below!Print