Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups
There’s only so many ways to re-invent chocolate chip cookies before it’s just another chocolate chip cookie.
But it’s a new year and I’m not out of ways yet. Cute cookie cups and browned butter to the rescue.
These cookies are the solution to your prayers if you’ve ever had issues with cookies spreading. Sometimes even doing everything right including chilling the dough before baking and baking cookies on a Silpat Non-Stick Mat is not a match for cookies that decide they’re going to spread on you regardless. The pesky spreading problem is solved by baking cookies in a muffin pan. They’re trapped with no where to go.
In addition to the muffin pan trick, I jazzed these up with browned butter because it really does elevate everything to a higher status, including classic chocolate chip cookies. The depth of flavor, the nuttiness, the richness, and the comforting quality that food takes on when made with browned butter is why I use it every chance I get.
Normally, however, I don’t brown butter or use melted butter for cookies. In general, my cookies turn out much flatter and thinner when I use melted butter and instead I prefer to cream butter with sugars and eggs for cookie dough. But since I was baking these in a muffin pan and spreading is impossible, it was a perfect opportunity to use browned butter.
The beauty of using melted butter is that no mixer is required and this dough come together by hand in a matter of minutes. To make the cookies, first brown the butter. I extensively discussed how to brown butter and what to watch for with the Browned Butter Caramel and Butterscotch Bars. If you’ve never browned butter before, the key points are to either stir the butter or swirl the pan almost continuously for the three to four minutes it takes to brown. And the minute you see brown specks and flecks in the butter, remove the pan from the heat and continue to stir for another minute so the carryover heat doesn’t burn the already browned butter.
Allow the butter to cool momentarily so you don’t scramble the egg. Then add the egg, sugars, vanilla, and whisk to combine. There’s a greater amount of brown to granulated sugar, which helps the cookies stay softer longer. Between the browned butter and brown sugar, the cookies have such rich flavor with hints of caramel notes. Comfort food at its finest.
Stir in the flour and baking soda and mix until just incorporated. I used bread flour and because it has a higher protein and gluten-content than all-purpose flour, and anything made with it has a stronger rise, greater structure, and is chewier. All-purpose flour may be used but the cookies just won’t be as chewy.
Fold in the chocolate chips and I solely used chocolate chips even though I prefer cookies with both chocolate chips and chocolate chunks or with chopped chocolate truffles, but I was fresh out. Incorporating different types of chocolate, white chocolate, toffee or caramel bits, or diced peanut butter cups would be tasty twists.
Equally divide the batter among the twelve wells in a very well-sprayed muffin pan. This is a time you really have to trust your nonstick spray and nonstick pan. I use Pam for Baking floured cooking spray and it never lets me down from cookies to Bundt cakes. Although you may use muffin liners, cosmetically I wasn’t going for the ruffled potato chip look and didn’t want ridge impressions on the cookies. The only ridges I wanted in them were from teeth.
I don’t recommend using a mini-muffin pan because the overall mass of dough effects how the cookies bake up. Just like these cookies should be baked larger to achieve that chewy edge-soft center quality, the same holds true for the cookie cups. I’m all for cute mini food, but not here.
Bake the cookie cups for nine to eleven minutes, or until the tops have just set, and don’t over bake them. They will be a bit underbaked in the center but as they cool in the pan for at least twenty minutes before removal, they’ll firm up some. I’ve made them in the past and inadvertently overbaked them and although they were okay, they’re best when they’re still soft, gooey, and melty in the middle.
Just because they’re muffin-shaped, they’re nothing like muffins. No cakeiness here. They’re dense, heavy, and rich. Scott was pleasantly surprised when I handed him this little paper weight and he remarked how filling it was.
There’s nothing better than biting into a thick and puffy cookie that had no chance to spread and is full of sink-your-teeth-in density. They’re the perfect balance of chewy edges, squishy in the middle, and loaded with melted chocolate.
I don’t think I ever want to use my muffin pan for muffins again.
Cookies made in a muffin pan are the answer to your prayers if you've ever had a problem with cookies spreading while baking. There's no where for these thick and dense cookies to go. Between the nuttiness and richness imparted from the browned butter, and the brown sugar used in the dough, these cookies have great depth of flavor. They’re the perfect balance of chewy edges, squishy in the middle, and loaded with melted chocolate.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, browned
1 large egg
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups bread flour (all-purpose flour or a combination of the two may be substituted)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F and spray a 12-count standard-sized muffin pan extremely well with floured cooking spray, cooking spray (or lining with paper liners is okay); set pan aside.
In a heavy-bottomed medium skillet, melt butter over medium-low heat, stirring nearly continuously or swirling pan. Butter will melt, foam, turn clear, golden, turn brown, and will then smell nutty. As soon at the butter begins to turn brown, take the pan off the heat, and continue to stir for about 1 minute, to ensure carryover heat doesn't continue to cook and subsequently burn the already browned butter.
Pour butter into large mixing bowl and allow it to cool momentarily so you don't scramble the egg. Add the egg, sugars, vanilla, and whisk to combine until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt, and stir until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips. Distribute dough equally among the 12 muffin pan cavities; each will approximately be filled to between two-thirds and three-quarters full. Tthe cookies don't rise much (nothing like muffins) so it's okay if dough seems high in the cavities. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or just until tops have set and are golden, taking care not to overbake because they will firm up more as they cool. Allow cookies to cool in pan for at least 20 minutes before removing them. If they have stuck to the pan, gently wedge the tip of a soft spatula into the muffin cavity to dislodge the cookies, rather than rimming with a table knife so you don't scratch your pan. Serve immediately. Cookies will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container at room temperature, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
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Do you ever bake anything other than muffins in a muffin pan?
If you have any favorite recipes, feel free to share them. I’ve made other cookies in a muffin pan, these Ritz-Stuffed Peanut Butter Cups, and these Cheddar Cheese and Olive Oil Savory Muffins. So still a muffin but a savory rather than sweet muffin.