Do you know where the name for my blog came from? I mean, besides Dave kind of just blurting it out and me realizing it was perfect. I was looking for something that at least somewhat related to my science background – I kind of wanted to be discussing not just the outcome of recipes, but also the way (get it?! huh huh huh do you?) things worked.
Plus, I had a professor in graduate school who used to bring us cookies, and in fact, he spent a portion of his first lecture talking about crumbly cookies. It all related to gravity and physics and stuff, but mostly I remember the cream cheese chocolate chip cookies he brought that day.
So now I’m the professor, and I bring my students cookies. Is that weird? Probably, but I need someone to offload treats to, and who better than college students? I kept to safe, familiar recipes in the beginning, chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodles, brownies, but now I’ve started to get a little experimental.
It’s also nice to get feedback from a larger audience besides, you know, myself and sometimes Dave. Not that you want to be telling the person who grades your exams that their cookies totally suck or anything, but I can generally get a vibe.
I actually wasn’t completely sold on these cookies. Oh, they were good, of course – what’s not to like about brown sugar and butter? And they were pretty difficult to resist, but still, I think I was expecting something transcendent. I actually think the one seemingly insignificant place I went wrong was rolling the doughballs too thickly in the sugar coating. Too much raw sugar!
My students though, gave rave reviews – more so than normal, so I’m guessing they’re not just trying to get on my good side. So what do I know. Other than a whole lot of sciencey stuff, that is.
Printer Friendly Recipe
Brown Sugar Cookies (from Cooks Illustrated)
Makes 2 dozen cookies
CI note: The most efficient way to bake these cookies is to portion and bake half of the dough. While the first batch is in the oven, the remaining dough can be prepared for baking. Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter. The dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is sufficiently browned. Use fresh brown sugar, as older (read: harder and drier) brown sugar will make the cookies too dry.
My note: I made the cookies smaller, about 1-inch round balls. I baked them for 7-9 minutes. Even with the smaller cookies (and therefore more surface area), I still had far more of the sugar coating mixture than I needed.
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
¼ cup (about 1¾ ounces) granulated sugar
2 cups (14 ounces) packed brown sugar
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10.625 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until its melted, about 2 minutes. Continue to cook the butter, swirling pan constantly until it is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl. Stir the remaining 4 tablespoons of the butter into the hot butter to melt; set aside for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a shallow baking dish or pie plate, mix the granulated sugar and ¼ cup (1.75 ounces) packed brown sugar, rubbing between fingers, until well combined; set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in a medium bowl; set aside.
3. Add the remaining 1¾ cups (12.25 ounces) brown sugar and the salt to the bowl with the cooled butter; mix until no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula; add the egg, yolk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, about 1 minute. Give the dough a final stir with a rubber spatula to ensure that no flour pockets remain and the ingredients are evenly distributed.
4. Divide the dough into 24 portions, each about 2 tablespoons, rolling between your hands into balls about 1½ inches in diameter. Working in batches, toss the balls in the reserved sugar mixture to coat and set them on the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart, 12 balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but it will take 3 batches).
5. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies are browned and still puffy and their edges have begun to set but the centers are still soft (cookies will look raw between the cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Do not overbake.
6. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for 5 minutes; using a wide metal spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.