Sunday, February 3, 2013

Nutella-Stuffed, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Warning:  This cookie may induce fits of swooning, and exclamations of extreme joy.

Are you in the doghouse with anyone?  Do you want to win over coworkers?  Or solidify your awesomeness with an in-law?  Have I got the cookie for you.  I wish I could say that I came up with this idea, and alas, I did not.  But, who cares, these cookies are amazing.

I had not browned butter before, but it does add a complexity to the flavor that I didn't expect.  I think I'll be looking for more recipes with this component in the future...

I brought these cookies to work the other day, and everyone's reactions were great.  Lots of oohing and ahhing.  Even our Executive Director came over and declared it to be the best cookie he's ever had.  Win!  A buttery, chocolatey cookie, with a Nutella surprise filling, and topped with a bit of sea salt?  Is it a wonder that everyone loved it?  Nope.

I will say that after making these cookies twice, I have a few tweaks and recommendations on the assembly of the cookie that differ slightly from the original recipe.  First, the amount of butter in these is...heart-stopping.  I'm not one to shy away, but I think it could be decreased a bit.  I cut out a few tablespoons, and there might be room for a bit more reduction without compromising the flavor and texture.

Second, there were too many chocolate chips (I can't believe I just said that).  But they made the dough near impossible to work with.  So I reduced the amount.  Also, I found it frustrating to try and form the cookies around the Nutella with the chocolate chips breaking up the dough, so switched it up by setting aside the chips and not incorporating them into the dough.  After forming the plain dough around the Nutella gob, I then pressed in a handful of chocolate chips on top of the cookie.  It makes for an easier assembly, a more attractive cookie, and the gooey chocolate chips on top are great for catching the coarse sea salt.

Third, I recommend scooping out two dozen teaspoon gobs of Nutella onto a pan with parchment paper and placing the pan in the freezer for a bit.  It's not a necessity, but it might save you from the messy, sticky, gooey trouble of using room temperature Nutella.  You still will get Nutella all over your fingers, and that leaves you with the choice of being proper and wiping them on a paper towel or throwing caution to the wind and licking it off your fingers.  Your choice!

I will say though, that you really should make these cookies.  They. Are. Amazing.

Nutella-Stuffed, Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
(from Ambitious Kitchen)
Makes roughly 2 dozen cookies

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
14 Tbsp unsalted butter (was originally 2 full sticks, but I believe it could be trimmed down a bit more even)
1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt or sour cream
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup milk chocolate chips
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan; continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.

While the butter is cooling, prepare a pan with parchment paper and place 24 tsp sized gobs of Nutella on it.  Put in the fridge or freezer to chill to make it easier to work with.

With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined.  Set aside chocolate chips in a bowl for later use.

Chill your dough for 1.5 - 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once dough is chilled measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball very thinly into the palm of your hand. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold dough around it; gently roll into a ball — it doesn’t have to be perfectly rolled! Make sure that the Nutella is not seeping out of the dough. Add more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand slightly.  Press desired amount of chocolate chips into top/sides of cookie dough.  Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven.  Once out of the oven, immediately sprinkle with a little sea salt (it will stick best in the melted chocolate chips).  Cool the cookies on the sheets at least 2 minutes.  Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets after a few minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough.


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