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Cook's Ill. Brown Sugar Cookies (April, '07)

I don't subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, but flipping through the current issue in a store last night, I became seriously interested in their recipe for brown sugar cookies, which are descibed as chewy but soft in the center; the recipe uses all dark brown sugar and melted browned butter. I'd love to hear from anyone who tries this recipe, and what the results were like. If they're great, I might chase the issue down and make a photocopy at my local library (although as I read through the recipe, I was already thinking of the slight changes I might make...).

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  1. Caitlin, you didn't ask, but these sounded so good, I thought I would post them for you. I might try these soon too- I love anything that's brown sugary!

    Brown Sugar Cookies

    Makes 2 Dozen Cookies
    14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
    1/4 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)
    1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon table salt
    1 large egg
    1 large egg yolk
    1 tablespoon vanilla extract

    Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a pan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue to cook the butter until it is browned a dark golden color and smells nutty, about 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer the browned butter to a bowl and stir the rest of the butter into the hot butter until it melts- let this rest for 15 min. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a baking dish, mix granulated sugar and a ¼ cup of the brown sugar until combined well; set this mixture aside to roll dough balls in. Mix flour, baking soda, and baking powder in a bowl. Add 1 ¾ cup brown sugar and salt to cooled butter and mix until there are no lumps. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla to butter mixture and mix well, then add flour and mix until just combined. Roll dough into balls about 1 ½ inches in diameter, and roll balls in brown sugar and white sugar mixture. Place balls about 2 inches apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake sheets one at a time until cookies are puffy and lightly browned, about 12- 14 minutes. (It says the cookies will look slightly raw between some of the cracks and seem underdone, but be careful not to overbake.) Cool on sheet for about 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Katie Nell

      Thanks, Katie! I also love the taste brown sugar gives (and I regularly sub it in whole or in part in many cookie/muffin/quick bread recipes that call for only white sugar where I think the flavor/texture would be appropriate). I was especially intrigued with the the use of browned butter, which has such has such a wonderful flavor itself.

      I mentioned in my original post that even as I quickly read through the recipe, I thought of some changes I'd likely make. I think I'd skip combing the white and brown sugars for rolling and use turbinado sugar instead, since it's granular, so is easy to roll dough in, and has the right flavor. I don't really like super-sweet sweets, and so I also would likely cut back the amount of sugar in the dough; it's too much relative to the other ingredients based on my on my own personal tastes and experience with similar cookie recipes.

      P.S. I haven't done much baking recently for various reasons, but I saved the MS chocolate-ginger cookie recipe you linked in another thread a few months back, and really look forward to trying it out.

      1. re: Caitlin McGrath

        The turbinado sounds like it would make for a prettier cookie too.

        If you aren't into super sweet cookies, I think you will really like the chocolate-ginger cookie recipe.

    2. Katie or Caitlin-did either of you try this yet? I have the recipe as well and they do look good. How did they turn out?

      1. Just finished off the last one. They are amazing. The texture is perfect, I wouldn't mess with the amount of sugar. They actually aren't as sweet as one might think. They didn't pick up a lot of sugar when I rolled them, the amount they give for rolling in is quite excessive though it does make it easier to do. I like turbinado sugar too but this seemed to work really well.

        1. I've made them rolled in white/brown sugar and rolled in turbinado. The latter looks cooler, but the former actually gives a better crunch to the crust. They both taste divine. I've made two batches in the past three days and have a request to do it again tonight (!) Cookie crack, that what I call 'em. Also very easy to make, since melting the butter means you don't have to drag out the stand mixer... just a spoon and your good right arm, like brownies.

          BTW, when your butter is hazelnut brown, you will have blackened milk solids. I prefer to strain them out, just for the aesthetics, but nobody noticed the difference when I left them in.

          BTW again, if you do use the white/brown sugar mix for rolling them, one ounce of each is plenty.

          1. For anyone who's actually made this, what was the serving size given by Cooks Illustrated? I live by myself so I need to know if the recipe needs to be reduced.

            Also has anyone made this using light brown sugar instead of dark? I have light brown sugar already...

            Thanks

            2 Replies
            1. re: Lorry13

              It's been a while but I think it made about 2 dozen cookies. You can make cookie dough balls and freeze them so you can have fresh cookies whenever you want (I make the dough balls, put them on a cookie tray and freeze. After half an hour or so, remove and put them all in a ziploc bag). You don't have to defrost, just bake frozen. Light brown sugar would work but not give the richness of flavor. If you have molasses, just replace a tablespoon or so of sugar w/ molasses.

              1. re: chowser

                Thanks for the freezing suggestion! I might as well buy the dark brown sugar instead of playing chemist with the ingredients.