Erica's Salty Sweet Choco-Pretzel Brown Butter Bombs

Wait juuuust long enough so that you don't scorch the roof of your mouth eating one of these fresh from the oven.
Wait juuuust long enough so that you don't scorch the roof of your mouth eating one of these fresh from the oven.
Erica O'Neil
Our latest Chow Bella showdown: a traditional holiday cookie exchange. From now through Christmas, we present Chow Bella's 12 Days of Christmas Cookies. Today: 11. Erica O'Neil's Salty Sweet Choco-Pretzel Brown Butter Bombs.

I bake a lot. One myth I used to buy into, but have grown out of is the whole "unsalted butter" crap in baking. Why? Because I crave salty-sweet combinations. With most recipes that call for unsalted butter, I end up actually salting my cookies after baking in hopes of salvaging an otherwise cloying sweet treat. It's a little awkward in public when you're the one holding a chocolate chip cookie and a salt shaker. 

Chocolate and sugar are great, but they're nothing without salt to accentuate just how sweet a treat it is. So when I ran across this recipe for brown butter choco chip cookies studded with salty pretzel bits, it was love at first sight. Sweet, salty, and oh so addictive. These cookies are definitely getting added to the holiday rotation for years to come. 
The nutty, aromatic brown butter to the right is what makes these cookies great.
The nutty, aromatic brown butter to the right is what makes these cookies great.
Erica O'Neil

The lovely blog, Amy Bitesis responsible for this amazing recipe, which is drastically abridged below. Click on the recipe for full instructions and a step-by-step picture tutorial, especially if this is your first time browning butter.

Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 3/4 sticks butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3 oz. pretzels, chopped
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk flour and baking soda together and set aside. Brown butter, remove from heat. Transfer butter to bowl and add both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Whisk then add eggs. Whisk again until smooth. Stir in flour mixture until just incorporated. Mix in chocolate chips and pretzels. Bake 10 to 14 minutes.

Quick Tips for Perfect Cookies: 

1. Definitely brown the butter. The nutty, aromatic brown butter adds complexity to the final product. If it's your first time browning butter, be very, very careful. Stir constantly and pull the pot from heat as soon as you start to see brownish streaks swirl through all that buttery foam. Brown butter is beautiful, but burnt butter is a hot mess and good for nothing but the trash can.

2. This basic brown butter cookie base is an excellent starter for any add-ins you would like: heath bar crumbles, butterscotch chips, walnuts, crushed waffle cone bits, chopped Andes mints, really whatever kind of dry ingredients you have on hand can get tossed into the batch. And if you're baking with kiddos, portion out the dough into a couple bowls and let them add their own ingredients for personalized cookie creations.

3. Use a tablespoon-sized spring loaded ice cream scoop to measure out each ball of cookie dough. Equal sizes means the same baking time and a consistent cookie. Or freeze the individually portioned balls of dough on a cookie sheet. After frozen, toss 'em in a plastic bag and you have instant cookies (or tasty cookie dough) whenever the mood strikes. 

4. Ovens are fickle. It's totally worth it to turn your cookie pans half way through the recommended baking time so everything cooks evenly. And if you're doing two pans at once (and face it, you are because who has three hours to cook a batch of cookies) also switch the pans positions from top to bottom rack.

5. Cool your cookie sheets between uses so that the dough doesn't spread and pool upon being plopped on a hot sheet. If you're impatient, hold onto the hot pan with a pot holder and wave it around your kitchen like a crazy person to cool the tray quicker.

6. It's totally acceptable to try the cookie dough, a fresh-out-of-the-oven cookie, and a freshly cooled cookie for "quality control."

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