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“Hey Angie. What’s going on?”

“Not much. Just got home from a road trip to see some bald eagles. Now I’m trying to figure out what I’m gonna do tonight. Have you started baking yet?”

“Just about to start. I think I’m gonna make these brown sugar cookies. They’re like regular sugar cookies except they’re made with brown sugar and browned butter so they have a deep caramel flavor.”

“I’ll be right over.” CLICK

“Angie?…Hello?”

After I finished off the last chewy chocolate chip cookie in the house I realized we were out of sweets. I’m a person who looks for solutions to problems, so I decided to make sugar cookies. On the way to my trusted sugar cookie recipe, I came across a brown sugar cookie recipe through my fancy online subscription to Cook’s Illustrated (totally worth it if you’re a baker or chef). I also did a Google search and found the recipe here, here and here. I’d never heard of sugar cookies made entirely with brown sugar so I thought I’d give it a try. I made the dough and took a sample (of course). Then I took another sample. And another. Then I stopped, went into the living room and thought, “Amy, you’re being ridiculous. If you keep eating the dough you won’t have anything left to bake!” Then I walked back into the kitchen and took a bigger sample. Willpower, schmillpower.

I was so excited to start this recipe I neglected to take a photo of all the ingredients. Of course you’re smart enough to know what baking soda looks like so I don’t think the picture is necessary. Here is a picture of the browned butter. Make sure you use a light colored skillet or pan so you can tell how brown the butter is at any given time. Those little dark brown specks are ok, as long as you don’t burn the butter you will be fine. The smell was divine — like the beginning of a batch of caramel.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.

I never thought I would be so jealous of a gingerbread man. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.

Don’t they look like cinnamon sugar doughnut holes? Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake.

Here they are! I tried one after they cooled and they were delicious! They have a deep caramel flavor with a kick of salt as a finishing touch. I could only eat two of them and then they started to get too sweet. My lowered tolerance for sweetness might also be from the obscene amount of dough I consumed beforehand. The browned butter smell permeated my clothing, so for the rest of the evening I smelled like I had just come from a cookie campfire.

Brown Sugar Cookies

Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Yields 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar (about 1 3/4 ounces)
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar (14 ounces)
  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 1/2 ounces)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon table salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Instructions

1. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large (18 by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. In shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix granulated sugar and 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Add remaining 1 3/4 cups brown sugar and salt to bowl with cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula; add egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down bowl. Add flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give dough final stir with rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.

4. Divide dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between hands into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss balls in reserved sugar mixture to coat and set on prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches.)

5. Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are browned and still puffy and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone; see photo below), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not over bake.

6. Cool cookies on baking sheet 5 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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