Thousand Layer Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

May 27, 2012

I've been cheating on my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe. *shh...*

Looking back, I'm quite the c.c. cookie swinger. Each new recipe brings with it promises of happiness, peace, and chocolate, and for a while I'm perfectly content...until something fresh, bright, and flashy scurries across the radar.

When I saw this recipe on Tracey's blog, I knew I had to make it, ASAP.  What baker could possibly resist a recipe title that's a cross between an irresistible pastry and a beloved cookie?

I'll say on record that these chocolate chip cookies are now my absolute favourite. Why? Not only do they appease my neurotic love for symmetry (thanks to the use of cookie cutters), but they employ an ingenious technique of actually rolling shards of chopped chocolate into layers of cookie least that's the idea.

To pay homage to my former c.c. cookie lover, Cook's Illustrated, I changed up this recipe a bit by browning the butter and allowing it to re-solidify in the fridge. Because the butter reduced during the browning process (something I should have compensated for), the dough was a bit too crumbly to actually roll out. What I ended up doing was less rolling, and more patting (& self-berating). The fact that these still turned out to be so mind-blowing, despite all the moments of falling to pieces, only proves how much you (yes, you!), really need to make a batch for yourself. No sharing.

The recipe is written with adjustments to the amount butter and eggs, so hopefully it will roll out beautifully. If not, I've also explained how you can use your magic hands to salvage what's sure to me a new favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Happy Memorial Day weekend, Everyone! xo 

Thousand Layer-Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 20 cookies (if you're lucky)

1 1/4 cups (that's 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking Soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 room temperature egg
3 room temperature egg Yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into shards (aim for longer, super model-thin "strips," as opposed to cute chubby chunks)
1 large egg, lightly beaten (for egg wash) *The wash won't be used until very late into the recipe...lot's of dough refrigeration time.
Sea salt for sprinkling (optional, but highly recommend)

Brown that butter: Cut 1 cup (that's 2 sticks) of the butter into Tablespoon-sized pieces. (You won't be using the remaining 1/4 cup of butter right now, so leave it in the fridge.)
Have a heat-proof bowl on hand to hold the butter once it has browned. Place the pieces of butter into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Whisk over medium-low heat until completely melted. Crank the heat up to medium, and continue cooking the butter. As it browns, it will foam up, and then it will calm down a bit. If you notice that one side is more foamy than the other, use the handle of the pan to swirl it around occasionally. Once the foam settles down, check for light brown specks forming at the bottom. Those specks are letting you know that it's almost ready! Keep cooking, and swirling the pan, until the butter develops a nutty aroma. *As soon as it's golden brown, remove the pan from the heat and pour the brown butter into a medium heat-proof bowl. Allow the browned butter to come to room temperature before covering, and refrigerating until solid **(at least 4 hours.)
*Note: Once the butter starts changing colour, it can burn super-fast, so don't wander off while it's cooking.
**Well covered, the browned butter can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. Any longer, and it may lose some of that nutty flavour.

Remove the solidified brown butter from the fridge, and allow it to soften to room temperature. (Bring the remaining 1/4 cup of regular butter to room temperature as well.)
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Soda, and salt; Set aside.
Scrape the softened brown butter into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the 1/4 cup of regular butter and both sugars. Beat on medium speed until fluffy and light (about 3-5 minutes). Add the egg and beat for about one minute. One by one, add the yolks, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the vanilla and beat to combine. Turn the mixer down to low speed and slowly add the dry ingredients. Beat just until the streaks of white have disappeared. Use a large rubber spatula to stir in any reaming bits of flour.

Place the cookie dough onto a lightly floured surface, and divide it into 3 equal parts. Shape each piece into a 4x6-inch rectangle, wrap each one in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. If you haven't done so already, you can pass the time by chopping the chocolate!

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper; Set aside. (No, you're not ready to use the oven just yet. Patience grasshopper) :)

Remove the rectangles from the fridge. If they feel like they're going to be too hard to roll out, leave them at room temperature for a few minutes. Place one of the rectangles onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle it with half of the chocolate shards. Top with a second piece of dough, and sprinkle it with the remaining chocolate. Top with the final piece of dough. You should have a high, delicious, messy cookie sandwich sitting in front of you. Try not to eat it! Dust the top layer of dough with flour, and use a *rolling pin to carefully/gently roll the dough into a rectangle that's about 9x6-inches and about 1 1/2-inches thick.

*This is the part where things started to go south for me. My dough cracked, split, and threw a fit when I tried to roll it out. If this happens to you, don't worry! Instead of rolling out the dough, I used my hands to work the chocolate into the dough. And instead of one big 9x6-inch rectangle, I worked with small portions of dough at a time. Still delicious!

Once the dough has been rolled, patted, or squished into a thickness of about 1 1/2-inches, use a 2-inch cookie cutter to cut out rounds of dough. [Note: I used 1 1/2-inch round cutters because I'm selfish and wanted more cookies.] Flour the cutter if necessary, and feel free to re-roll the scraps. Place the cut-out cookies onto the prepared sheets, cover loosely, and refrigerate for at least one hour. (Oh the humanity!) The longer you chill the unbaked cookies, the deeper the flavour!

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Have the egg wash on hand, ready to use.

Separate the chilled cookies before baking. These spread out a bit, so make sure to leave about 2-inches between each cookie. Brush the top of each cookie with a little bit of the egg wash. Sprinkle with sea salt (if using).
*Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until the edges have just set. Rotate the sheets half-way through the baking time to ensure even browning. Remove the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for about 5 minutes before carefully transferring them to a cooling rack.
*My cookies were perfect after only 11 minutes. They looked slightly underdone (which I prefer anyway), but they firmed up nicely as they cooled.


Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart via Tracey's Culinary Adventures


  1. I think you know how I feel about brown butter, so I know I'd love these cookies. Delish!

  2. Lovely cookies! They look really professional and could be sold at a bakery...



  3. These look like sheer bliss! Browned butter just makes everything better.

  4. Wow!! These look incredibly delicious. They sound amazing as well. Great site, always makes me laugh. Good job!!!

  5. Wow Valerie! Those cookies look absolutely fantastic. Exactly what I am feeling for right now!

  6. Oh Valerie! These look amazing!
    I totally do the same thing with chocolate chip cookies; I think every recipe is the most amazing, because well, they're chocolate chip cookies!
    Cook's Illustrated is my favourite recipe at the moment as well, so I'm going to trust you and try these :-)
    Hopefully they are amaaazing!

  7. These cookies look brilliant! I love the shape of them, it just makes them seem extra enticing. Can't wait to make them, they definitely seem like they could usurp my current favorite chocolate chip cookies as well!

  8. Emilia, if you like CI's recipe, I think you will fall in love with these cookies! (Thank you, brown butter.) :D

  9. Yummy Valerie! I love the addition of brown butter! Hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day! xx

  10. This is the most unique CCC recipe I've ever seen! They are gorgeous and I'm really intrigued. I'm imagining something shortbready but with the added bonus of browned butter. I've recently decided that Alton Brown's chewy CCCs are my favourite, but I may have to reconsider now!

  11. Wonderful recipe! It was very popular on RecipeNewz and as such was featured today on our new Facebook page: Congrats! We look forward to your new posts :-)

  12. Oh my! What a wonderful recipe and I LOVE the name!

  13. i need to try these...they look incredible! i adore brown butter!

  14. Yum! These look amazing, but I will either have to lighten them up or feed them to my kids cause they sure are not for a diet :DDD

  15. @Katherine, They're definitely not diet friendly, but if you go to the trouble of making this recipe, I think you've earned the right to enjoy one (or two)! :-D

  16. WWWWWooooow, I can't wait to try these. You might make a swinger out of me too ;)

  17. A friend of mine is defending his thesis in a couples of weeks and I sure as hell am baking these cookies for him.

    Oh, my!

  18. @ Inés, (beautiful name!)
    That's an excellent idea! Cookies are the best reward for academic achievements...a nice throw-back to childhood. :D

  19. oh. my. gosh. you can't be saying what I think you're saying. a cross between a cookie and a pastry?! that sounds SO delicious that my mouth is watering this very second!

    and the fact that these won over the famous cooks illustrated ccc says so much about these cookies!

  20. Wow...they look amazing! I have to try these soon :-)

  21. Another amazing post for me to drool over… I'm featuring it in this week's Food Fetish Friday series (with a link-back and attribution). I hope you have no objections and as always I love following your creations… Thanks so much for sharing.

  22. @JavelinWarrior, Thanks for the feature! Always more than happy to spread some cookie love around. :)

  23. That´s it - I´m making cookies! These sound and look equally divine - and I too have a thing for symmetry.... (and I trust you ccc-wise, as you´ve worked your way through a nice number of recipes! ;)

  24. It's rare that my jaw drops when seeing a photo of yet another cookie, but that's what just happened when I saw this! I absolutely can't wait to try it!

  25. It is amazing how many ways there are to make chocolate chip cookies and you have a new one and that sounds like it could lead the pack.

  26. What a cool technique! And browned butter makes everything so special

  27. I am so excited to make these, but don't want to end up eating them all at once. Do you have any recommendations for freezing the dough before baking or freezing the cookies after baking? Thanks!

  28. Hi Lauren,
    The cut-out cookies (or however you end up putting them together), can probably be frozen for up to a month. Just be sure that they are well-wrapped or in an air-tight container. When baking, just add a few more minutes to the time. :D

  29. I have been dyeing to try a brown butter chocolate chip cookie recipe. I just made these yesterday, and while I underestimated the time it would take to make them...OMG! was it ever worth it. This is without a doubt my new favorite chocolate chip recipe! Simply delicious.

  30. @Christine, I love that you get this enthusiastic over cookies. We would get along beautifully! :D (Glad you like 'em.)

  31. Omg this recipe, from the Newlywed Cookbook (you got it from Tracey who got it from that cookbook) well this woman Sarah who wrote it was just interviewed in a recent issue of Bon Appetit or Saveur that I was reading and these cookies were featured and I made a mental note to make them one day (and already til I just saw this! I need to embark on these one day! Thanks for the reminder!

  32. @Averie, Happy to play a role in a cookie recipe reminder! :D

  33. Hi Valerie! I absolutely love your blog.I baked these cookies a while back and they tasted amazing but,the problem I had was that they didn't retain their shape and they just spread out and became flat. So,I was wondering if you have a tip for keeping them round. Thanks

  34. @Anon: The only thing I can think of to prevent spreading is refrigerating the dough (especially chocolate chip dough). Maybe next time allow the dough to chill for up to 8 hours...

    Hope that helps! :)

  35. I finally got to make this brown butter chocolate this past weekend and it was such a hit!! I used your suggestion and used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Thx for sharing


Thanks for visiting, and for taking the time to read through my ramblings!
If you have a recipe comment or question, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Baking!
♥ Valerie


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