To turn up the volume on a standard sugar cookie we switched out the granulated sugar in favor of dark brown sugar. Browning the butter produced a range of butterscotch and toffee flavors in our dough. A full tablespoon of vanilla offered sweet caramel notes. For the signature crystalline coating, we stuck with brown sugar but added a little white sugar to the rolling mix to prevent clumping. The right baking technique proved essential to the success of this recipe; we baked the cookies one sheet at a time, and pulled them from the oven when they were still soft. Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is sufficiently browned. Using fresh, moist brown sugar is crucial to the texture of these cookies.
- Yield: 24 cookies
- Total Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10⅔ ounces) all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- 1¾ cups packed (12¼ ounces) dark brown sugar, plus ¼ cup for rolling
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- Melt 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer browned butter to large bowl and stir in remaining 4 tablespoons butter until melted; let cool for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder together in bowl.
- Whisk 1¾ cups brown sugar and salt into cooled butter until smooth with no lumps, about 30 seconds. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.
- Combine remaining ¼ cup brown sugar and granulated sugar in shallow dish. Working with 2 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls then roll in sugar to coat; space 2 inches apart on prepared sheets.
- Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, puffy, and cracked (cookies will look raw between cracks and seem underdone), 12 to 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let cookies cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool completely before serving.