Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

These incredible cookies pack a wallop of flavor into each bite thanks to the combination of nutty brown butter, toasted milk powder, chocolate chunks, and flakes of sea salt. They require a little more time and effort than your average chocolate chip cookie, but they’re well worth it.

Ten salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a wire cooling rack.

Adapted from Lea-Wilson Family | Sea Salt | White Lion Publishing, 2022

These salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies are the right balance of sweet and salt with an extra toasty depth – the kind of cookie you never want to end. We have adapted the recipe ever so slightly, but the soul remains the same.

The depth here comes from two ingredients – brown butter and the secret, toasted whole milk powder. The latter is something you’re going to have to seek out, but it’s easy to buy good organic stuff online, and trust me, the smell when you open the oven door will be so worth it.

There are a few stages here, but the good news is, once you’ve made a batch, they freeze well in individual portions and you can bake them as and when needed – just add a couple of minutes to the cooking time.–Lea-Wilson Family

What is whole milk powder?

Whole milk powder (aka: powdered milk) is simply whole milk (although it can be found in all types – 2%, skim, etc.) that’s been pasteurized, dried through evaporation, and then packaged in powdered form. It can generally be found in boxes, plastic jars, and even bags in the baking section at your local grocery. Take note that there’s a texture difference between milk powder and instant powdered milk – the instant version tends to be grittier.

Why are these cookies cooled on the baking sheet instead of a rack?

Cookies left on a hot cookie sheet will continue to cook for a few minutes, even out of the oven. This is why timing and temperature are so important. Additionally, keeping the chocolate a little melty will also help the flaky sea salt adhere to your cookies.

What is the difference between light and dark brown sugar?

Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than light brown. The sugars are generally interchangeable but aren’t exact substitutes. Using dark brown sugar when a recipe calls for light will give your final product a more robust, rich, caramel-y taste and a darker color, and could slightly affect the texture. Using light brown sugar instead of dark in this recipe will result in lighter-colored cookies with a less robust flavor.

Can I freeze these chocolate chunk cookies?

Yes. After scooping the cookie dough into rounds in step 12, freeze the cookies on the baking sheets until solid, then transfer to a resealable bag. When ready to bake, cook as many as you like from frozen, adding 4 to 5 minutes of baking time.

Salted Brown Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Ten salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a wire cooling rack.
Flaky sea salt, nutty brown butter, toasted milk powder, and sweet chocolate chunks combine to make the perfect cookie.
Lea-Wilson Family

Prep 45 mins
Cook 30 mins
Total 4 hrs
Dessert
American
20 cookies
270 kcal
5 from 1 vote
Print RecipeBuy the Sea Salt cookbook

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Ingredients 

For the brown butter

  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter

For the toasted milk powder

  • 7 tablespoons (1 3/4 oz) milk powder

For the chocolate chunk cookies

  • 2/3 cup superfine (caster) sugar (or blitz granulated sugar in a food processor until finely ground)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine flaked sea salt
  • 8 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids) chopped
  • Flaked sea salt for scattering

Directions
 

Make the brown butter

  • In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then cook until the butter begins to foam and turn a couple of shades darker, tilting and swirling the pan so you can see the butter changing color as it cooks under the foam.
  • When the butter is browned and smells nutty, after 5 to 7 minutes, remove from the heat and use a wooden spoon to loosen the solids from the base of the pan. (Browned butter can continue to cook for longer than you think – it’s only when it tastes bitter that it has gone too far.) Pour the melted butter, bits and all, into a large bowl and leave to cool for an hour or so.

Toast the milk powder

  • Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
  • Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the milk powder over the lined baking sheet in a thin, even layer and toast in the oven until light golden, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. (If the milk powder is clumped up in the oven, smash it into a powder once again.)

Make the chocolate chunk cookies

  • Using a stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment on medium-high speed, whisk the caster sugar, eggs, and vanilla together until thick ribbons of the mixture form when you lift the whisk from the bowl, 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the cooled, toasted milk powder and the dark brown sugar to the browned butter and roughly mix it together.
  • In a separate large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and fine flaked salt together until combined.
  • Add the buttery mixture to the egg mixture, a spoonful at a time, and fully incorporate before adding the next one.
  • If using a free standing mixer, switch the attachment to the paddle. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in three stages, incorporating the flour until no dry patches are visible with each addition. Add the final third of the flour by hand, together with the chopped chocolate, mixing with a wooden spoon.
  • Cover the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight. You can keep the dough refrigerated like this for up to three days. If chilling overnight, remove the dough from the fridge 45 minutes before baking.
  • When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C) and line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • Using an ice-cream scoop, shape 2 ounce (57 g) balls of dough and place on the lined baking sheets, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) space between each cookie to allow for spreading.
  • Bake until they are golden brown but not too crisp, 11 to 15 minutes. As soon as they come out of the oven, sprinkle a good amount of flaked salt on top and leave to cool on the baking sheets.
  • Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Print RecipeBuy the Sea Salt cookbook

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Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 270kcal (14%)Carbohydrates: 30g (10%)Protein: 4g (8%)Fat: 15g (23%)Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 44mg (15%)Sodium: 135mg (6%)Potassium: 149mg (4%)Fiber: 2g (8%)Sugar: 18g (20%)Vitamin A: 335IU (7%)Vitamin C: 0.2mgCalcium: 46mg (5%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I am always intrigued by a cookie recipe that offers either a new technique or interesting everyday pantry items unique or new to me. The roasted milk powder and the nuttiness of the brown butter not only made my kitchen smell incredible, the flavour profile was too good to pass on.

Four salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a white plate.

These cookies need a wee bit of time to come to malleable use when removing from the fridge or to portion them into cookie balls and freeze. I used the “pan banging” technique to give these cookies the spread out crackling tops that I prefer at minute 9 and rotated the pan for the further 4 minutes until the chewy texture of cookie we like has been achieved.

These cookies are five stars still warm, but they are still pretty remarkable the day after.

The photo of these salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies drew me in and the must-make moment was seeing brown butter in the recipe.

Salted brown butter chocolate chip cookies on a glass rectangular serving plate.

Years ago, I was taken to a specialty cheese shop in San Francisco and thought it was for some divine cheese, but it was for the brown butter cookies they made. My friend said please figure out how to make these cookies. Weeks later, I made my version of the cookies and they were a hit. When I see brown butter in a recipe I can just smell the nutty aroma and know the depth of flavor they will add to the finished product.

Dark chocolate is wonderful and even better when chopped, as you get larger and smaller pieces that ensure there is plenty of chocolate goodness in every bite. I like the freckles of chocolate throughout this dough. These cookies cool on the sheet versus on a rack so they will continue to cook a bit with the residual heat. Get your coffee or a large glass of milk ready!

These salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies are the most decadent cookies I’ve ever made. The combination of the browned milk powder, browned butter, brown sugar, and the large amount of 70% chocolate is out of this world. My waistline is going to pay for this. Big time.

Twelve salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a wire cooling rack.

For me, these are special occasion cookies. With all the steps required to make them, they do take some time. This is not the recipe to make when you need cookies in an hour or so.

One of the things I really like is that the dough keeps in the fridge for a few days so that you can bake them fresh daily. They will lose their crisp edges after being stored in an airtight container overnight but I can forgive that.

I love these cookies! So flavorful, chewy, and addictive – everything you want in a cookie. Far from bland, these cookies are an indulgent twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie by way of toasted milk powder and browned butter. There is a strong butterscotch/nutty dimension without a lot of extra steps or ingredients, tasting a bit like a blondie.

A stack of salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a wire cooling rack.

The addition of toasted milk powder is intriguing. I can’t say that I detected its presence. Superfine caster sugar plus brown sugar made for a very sweet base. I went for the darkest chocolate I could find and did not skip on the flaked salt for the scattering post-baking/cooling stage.

If you’re looking for a chocolate chunk cookie recipe with more complex flavors than the usual, this salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookie recipe is for you.

Salted brown butter chocolate chunk cookies on a wire cooling rack and some on a plate nearby.

A couple of the techniques involved were new to me but easy to master, and I love when I master a new technique, because then I can pretend I’m good enough to make it on one of those cooking competition shows. Don’t get me wrong; this recipe takes longer than the average cookie recipe, but most of it is resting time, and the result is Instagram-able, any occasion cookies just packed with chocolate that stays ooey gooey even after a night on the counter.

When toasting the milk powder, you’re looking for a color that is golden or a soft brown as compared to the original color, but not the same kind of intense golden you’d expect from deep frying.

We loved these cookies. The dark chocolate chunks were great. Even those that prefer milk chocolate liked these, maybe because of the milk powder.

I like that this recipe can be made over several days if you are short on time. I made the browned butter, toasted milk powder and chopped the chocolate one day. The next day I made the batter and the following day baked the cookies.

The brown butter and toasted milk powder in these cookies combine to give an almost caramel-y background flavor, and though some felt these leaned toward too sweet, they were still deemed our new favorite chocolate chip cookie. However, we unanimously agreed that the addition of toasted chopped walnuts or pecans and less chocolate would be good adjustments.

This is one of the most unique chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tried. It’s the classic cookie everyone loves, with rich toasted notes, almost taking the cookie to the edge of savory. Full of chocolate, the toasted milk, brown butter and dark brown sugar give a butterscotch flavor to these cookies.

The cookies were soft and had a slight crunch from the brown sugar. I could not really taste the toasted milk powder nor the browned butter in the finished biscuits and perhaps I would not go to the trouble of making these if I was making the cookies again. The chocolate stayed quite molten in the finished cookies. I would make the biscuits again, perhaps adding some chopped nuts to the final mix.

Originally published July 13, 2022

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Comments

  1. These look so tempting! What do you think about substituting an equal amount of unsweetened malted milk powder for the toasted milk powder?

    1. Beth, these are definitely tempting cookies! We have only tested it using toasted milk powder so I’m not sure it would work. There is generally wheat flour and other grains in malted milk powder and using it may alter the recipe results.

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