Brown Butter Chocolate Maple Pecan Cookies

There has been a noticeably sweet dessert theme around these parts lately, as evident by comments from friends and family members wondering how I am still managing to fit into my pants (and the answer my friends is stretchy denim and elastic waste pants). I've been baking, and we've been eating, a whole lot of chocolaty comfort foods as Brent and I hunker down and try to stay sane during these long winter months. Whether you're knee-high in snow or drowning in overcast and drizzle, I know we're all dreaming of sun-kissed skin, summer berries, cute sandals, bike rides, shorts skirts, I mean, the list goes on and on. I've got a little trip planned to Costa Rica in a few weeks that should bring plenty of sun, hopefully enough to last me until the summer. I wish I could take you all with me, but I do try to pack light.

As excited as I may be, this may sound a little silly but I just can't wrap my head around shorts and bikinis quite yet. I find that it's always a bit of a shock to become fully immersed in tropical heat, warm intense UV rays and salt water, after spending many months cooped up indoors. The intense equatorial sun is always so surprisingly fierce, and I always have to remind myself over and over again that it's important to be stern and diligent with sun screen and avoid the harsh rays, as lovely and as the sun may feel. I've heard stories of friends spending a few weeks developing a base tan in the tanning beds, but the thought of being stuffed inside a coffin-shaped light bulb heat box terrifies me. I plan on bringing an extra large sun hat and plenty of cover-ups, which should do the trick.

But then again, there will probably be that one day that I drink way too many margaritas and fall asleep in a reclining chair by the pool and wake up with a burn. Or there will be that day that I loose all track of time and common sense when applying sun screen and end up with a mild burn and some attractive blotchy white spots in between my legs and on my back where the sun screen has dripped away leaving exposed skin. This always seems to happen no matter how hard I try. The last trip I took, to Belize, I was feeling pretty good up until the last day, where I spent a few hours snorkeling and then on the beach with no shelter. Throughout the day I layered on as much sun screen as I could, but that didn't work, and I payed for it later with a burnt ass and not being able to sit for a few days. So I guess the moral of this story is, try your best, and if that doesn't work, be prepared for your burn to be the center of attention for a while, unless you always travel with a few dozen cookies, and then I am certain people will gloss over anything less important.


There is no better way to temporarily forget pain than indulging in the most deliciously chewy salty sweet maple cookie in existence, which may be a bit overly dramatic, but I am a big fan of these ones. Over the holidays I purchased a copy of Mast Brothers Chocolate - A Family Cookbook. I've spent the last month flipping through the pages, admiring the photography (taking notes for a possible future cookbook), and eyeing up a few recipes. Last Sunday I got a bit of inspiration, so I took advantage and made the maple chocolate pecan cookies from the book and they were all sorts of delicious. I then became even more inspired and decided to come up with a personalized version of my own. I spent the last week coming up with recipes, scratching recipes, adjusting recipes.  I probably made around 56 cookies when all said and done. I made some cookies that were too crispy, some that were too thin, some that weren't sweet enough and some that tasted of baking soda. I think my friends are probably sick of cookies for the time being, although my father-in-law seems to be still enjoying them tremendously.

The cookie recipe that I finally settled on is soft and chewy. Slightly sweet with lots of melty chocolate, crunchy pecans, and a sprinkle of Maldon salt to tie it all together. The most delicious parts of this recipe, in no particular order, are the 1) brown butter 2) maple sugar 3) dark chocolate 4) pecans and 5) Maldon salt.

Brown butter is pretty straight forward. It is a slightly better, sweeter, nuttier version of itself, created by heating butter until the water and fat melt away freeing up the milk solids to toast and brown producing the most wonderful aroma. Maple sugar, although a bit expensive, looks similar to granulated sugar, but is light brown in color and tastes exactly like maple syrup. It is made by boiling away most of the water from the maple sap once tapped from the maple tree. I like to substitute maple sugar for granulated sugar in most of my baking-related recipes in a ratio of 1:1 whenever I have some on hand, because this stuff goes quick in my house. My friends all joke that I am probably secretly employed by the Canadian Maple Syrup board, because I am always going on about how amazing it is and trying to push it in peoples faces. I mean, I'm Canadian, and we take our maple syrup very seriously.
further reading: The Great Canadian Maple Syrup Heist.


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BROWN BUTTER CHOCOLATE MAPLE PECAN COOKIES
makes 18 cookies

1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 stick (1/2 cup) of unsalted butter
1 cup maple sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
Maldon salt
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Place the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon into a bowl and combine. Set to the side.

In a medium sauce pan heat the butter on medium heat until it begins to foam. The foam will then subside and the butter will turn light brown and begin to produce a sweet nutty aroma. At this point, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl add the maple sugar, butter, and egg. Stir with a wire whisk until combined.

Add the dry ingredient to the wet and combine with a wooden spoon just until the ingredients begin to come together. Set a 1/4 cup of chopped chocolate to the side and add the rest including the pecans to the dough. Stir until combined.

Using a heaping tablespoon of dough, roll each cookies into a ball and place onto a baking sheet 2 inches apart. Take the extra chocolate pieces and press into the tops of the cookies.

Place the cookies into the oven and bake for 12 - 13 minutes. I used a stoneware baking sheet and the cookies appeared still soft but cooked at 12 minutes. If you are using a stainless steel baking sheet, monitor the cookies starting at 8 minutes. You want the outsides of the cookie to be light brown, while the center still soft. They will harden up once cooled, so it is better to under-bake then over-bake.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of Maldon salt. Wait five minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to let cool. Baked cookies can be stored in the fridge for a week. Alternatively, you can stored the dough in the freezer for 3 months.

30 comments:

  1. Costa Rica – sounds so wonderful. I hope you'll have a relaxing time lying in the sun and drinking margaritas. I would lie if I would say that I don't envy you for all of these things ;) This nasty February weather is killing me.
    Your cookies sound absolutely perfect. Brown butter, dark chocolate, pecans, and Maldon salt. Yes, that's what my favorite cookies are made of. Unfortunately, I've never seen maple sugar here in Finland :( Will need to replace that with something. What would you think would happen if I just mix granulated sugar with some maple syrup? It would be like light brown sugar, right? Will make a batch this week and report back to you!

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    1. I'm very interested in your results. I know that you can substitute the maple sugar for granulated sugar 1:1, but not sure about adding maple syrup, and what quantity. Have you tried searching for maple sugar online. I am not sure if King Arthur Flour delivers to Finland, but I know they sell some here in the US. It might be a bit pricey to ship, but it is so delicious.

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    2. Soo... I made a batch last Friday and they turned out delicious :) I used granulated sugar and added 2 tbsp maple syrup but had to add a couple of tablespoons more flour as the dough felt rather moist. The maple flavor is quite subtle – I would love to make an other batch with maple sugar so I could compare the two versions.

      Hope you have a lovely Sunday,
      Sini

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  2. isn't that book gorgeous?? i love staring at the pictures, but i haven't gotten up the gumption to make anything yet. and YES PLEASE DO WRITE A COOKBOOK. that would be amazing.

    also i am in love with your advice to always travel with cookies.

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    1. The Mast Brother's cookbook is so fabulous. I am eyeing a chocolate truffle recipe to make next. I definitely have some MUST travel items that I always carry, passport, money, cookies. You know, the important stuff.

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  3. gorgy mc gorgy face! Love these!!

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  4. i'm literally drooling right now, your photos are gorgeous! yes, amen to stretchy jeans and all things elastic! costa rica is one of my favorite destinations; my husband and i just honeymooned there over the summer - best place to enjoy with a loved one. have a blast!

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    1. Thanks Lindsey. I am pretty excited about a little sun and R&R.

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  5. Talk about totally melty nutty goodness

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    1. I love the days leading up to a trip, all the planning and emotion that comes with it. These cookies look amazing as soon as I find some maple sugar. Thanks!

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  6. I`m jealous! I have never been to Costa Rica before! If I stayed indoors for months on end, these cookies would definitely get me through the winter. Gorgeous photos!

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    1. Thanks Lynna. They are definitely getting me through the cold winter months, although today we have a bit of sun hip hip!

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  7. I use brown butter in my cookies but maple? Next level. That book looks amazing,as do your cookies. Now I want cookies . . .

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    1. I encourage this. Cookies foreva.

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  8. Maple sugar, dark chocolate and pecans sounds like an incredible combination in a cookie.. Costa Rica is beautiful...have fun on your trip...

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    1. Thanks Erika, I am really looking forward to the warm sun.

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  9. I love the look of these cookies - so tasty!! Yum!

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  10. These cookies look all types of delicious. I've never come across maple sugar here in Australia before - luckily I have friends in Canada who can post! I was in Costa Rica the year before last - if you have the time and don't mind a bit of hiking, Rincon de la Vieja National Park is outrageously beautiful.

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    1. Thanks for the advice. I have heard great things about that park. I will have to look into it in more detail.

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  11. Just remember to put sunscreen on your feet and the tops of your ears....those two spots really got me when I went to Mexico after spending a sunless winter in Toronto. Flip flop tan for months. Eek.

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    1. YES! This is so important. Have you ever burnt the bottom of your feet? So painful.

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  12. Hello, Heather! Very glad to have found your site ... I love your beautiful arty photos! I've never tried or even seen maple sugar, but I'm a little crazy about maple syrup at the moment. In fact I carefully wrapped a glass bottle of it up in my suitcase when I travelled from the UK to Greece to live for a few months recently. Also love that these cookies only have a few ingredients, & very tasty ones at that!

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  13. Hi Heather, we made two versions of your cookies tonight. One with regular flour, which turned out just beautiful. Just like in your pics. The other batch was made with gluten free flour. They spread like crazy - perhaps a problem with the flour? Or maybe they were too warm (the cookies were a lot stickier). I ended up just cutting them up into bars. Nonetheless they were absolutely delicious and I will make them again, perhaps freezing for a few minutes before baking. Thanks for this delicious recipe! :)

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  14. These are so decadent, I can smell them from here, yum. And I can't wait for bikini season, miss the summer!!
    Simona/OFF DUTY

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  15. I will spend today on a quest for maple sugar - I've never used it before, you've inspired me to try it. The cookies look gorgeous... and oh my, please keep taking notes for your own cookbook... I'd be among the first lining up to buy it!

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  16. Oh yes! These look insanely good, just...yes. Making. Soon. Thank you! Though PS, we are most definitely lacking in maple products in Australia. We have the pure syrup! But alas, have never seen maple sugar. Will look for it though, sounds outrageous. Regular sugar will have to suffice, for now!
    Heidi xo

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  17. I cannot get over how beautiful your pictures are, nor how delicious all of the recipes sound (which is probably helped by the fact that they just look so darn amazing)! Where has your blog been all my life?!

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  18. Oh my. These look so good. You make me want to go to the market right now to get everything and make them.

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