Some real fuckin’ foodie nerd shit is about to go down, y’all.
This is the shit my chemistry T.A. and I talk about during lab discussion.
These cookies are bringing science back.
I am harnessing one of the most delicious reactions known to man and using its great and terrible power to make some kick-ass cookies.
And I’m SO excited to share these cookies and this technique with you. Like, I can’t even.
I’ve been working on these here thangs for a while, now.
I’ve decided they’re ready to be unleashed upon the world.
The question is, are you ready?
Do you know how freaking awesome the Maillard reaction is, man?
This is what is responsible for the heaven that is the crust of a good bread, the browning of butter, the golden color of baked cookies, cakes, and biscuits, dulce de leche, the crust of a steak, caramelized roasted vegetables, french fries, the smell of roasted coffee, chocolate, soy sauce, maple syrup…
The Maillard reaction creates essentially all good smells in the kitchen. It is an aroma powerhouse.
Roasting, toasting, baking, frying and their accompanying intoxicating smells are all derived from this reaction.
Can I get an amen?!
The Maillard reaction describes the reaction between a single amino acid and a sugar.
It’s a form of nonenzymatic browning.
(The other main form of nonenzymatic browning is caramelization, which is the partial breakdown of a sugar. The two reactions pair quite nicely, as both produce similarly delicious aromas, flavors, and colors.)
It’s favored in an alkaline environment, and requires heat to occur.
Because there are so many different combinations possible between amino acids and sugars, and because compounds can break down and form new combinations, the variety of aromas and flavors caused by the Maillard reaction is enormous.
Have you ever wondered why pretzels (les bretzels) are dipped in sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) solution before being baked?
It’s because the weak base of (CO3)2- creates an alkaline (basic) environment, facilitating and speeding up the formation of that lovely brown crust on the surface.
(I need to get a pretzel recipe on this blog, stat.)
Obviously, this interaction between amino acids and sugars has been happening since people started cooking and baking, but Louis-Camille Maillard first scientifically described the reaction in 1912, though he didn’t fully know the scope or details of it.
Oh damn! Hold up! That’s a French-ass name, Louis-Camille. Yeah, my lil croissant, lil cheese on my croissant.
So as if we didn’t already know that the French dominate in the land of carbohydrates, they also pinned down the reaction that literally makes life and bread delicious.
Merci mille fois; mille fois merci.
Blah blah science blah no one cares.
Except when it comes to cookies.
If science is guaranteeing better cookies, all y’all are gonna hop on board. I know it. I know you.
Brown butter is a go-to. Any recipe that calls for melted butter is a boon, because I automatically brown my butter for a boost of nutty, rich flavor.
Butter browns because the proteins and sugar in the milk solids of butter toast and go through a certain reaction. (Hmm, what was that called again?)
What happens if you toast just milk solids, then?
Put some milk powder in a dry skillet, stir it around, and wait. It will slowly turn brown and toasty, and begin to let off enticing smells. Don’t stick your face too deep to inhale, though, because you’ll get a nose full of milk.
Put this toasted milk powder into already browned butter, and you’ve just amplified the amount of Maillardian flavors all up in that butter. By a lot.
Browning a stick of butter gets you about a tablespoon of browned milk solids.
These cookies add 3 tablespoons of browned milk solids to that.
Meaning you get cookies with the flavor of a pound of browned butter.
AKA flavor punch bang pow mother truckers.
Super-charged brown butter, heaps of brown sugar, and a grand old dose of salt make up the base of these cookies, which will end up supremely soft and puffy, like little globes of deliciousness.
Stir in some chocolate chunks, portion out tiny little scoops, and prepare yourself for total cookie domination.
The alkaline batter (yep, we used sodium bicarb) goes into the oven, and even more Maillard reactions occur, both with the dough and with the chocolate. Holy jeebus. I’m drooling.
Eat them warm with a glass of cold, cold milk.
Cheers to Maillard.
Cheers to soft, salty, nutty, rich, profound cookies.
These ain’t no basic CCCs.
These are a chemist’s complex chocolate chip cookies.
It may be hard to mess chocolate chip cookies up, but it’s just as goddamn hard to make them freaking amazing.
**make these cookies**
Some thoughts if you do try them, which you ought to: if you don’t want your cookies to be as puffy, I bet another tablespoon of milk plus a teaspoon and a half of neutral oil would do it. I’ll get back to you on that.
Mini chocolate chips distribute more evenly in mini cookies. I personally like big chunks, so I stuck with ’em. Just keep that in mind.
For late night cravings, keep a batch of these in the freezer. All you have to do from frozen is bake ’em for an extra minute, and that way, you’ll have cookies on hand for every sort of problem and situation that might arise. Wrap well in plastic and aluminum foil to prevent freezer burn!
Sandwiching these with vanilla ice cream is all I want to do with my life.
They would also make a perfect mix-in for ice cream, because they are so so soft.
Number one tip: consume while fresh and hot hot hot.
Shoutout to science and shit, baby. Bang bang.
P.S. Did you notice the blog’s facelift?
I spent wayyyyy too long designing the new logo and updating fonts, etc.
Tell me what you think!
Maillard Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes about 50 tiny cookies, or 12 large
3 tablespoons milk powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, browned and then cooled until hardened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon milk
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Brown the butter well ahead of time and set it in the fridge to cool back to a solid state.
Brown the milk powder: in a NONSTICK skillet over low heat, stir the milk powder gently until a deep tan color and very fragrant, about 10-15 minutes.
Be sure not to let it burn.
Scrape the solidified browned butter along with the browned milk powder into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until soft, about 2 minutes.
Add the sugars and the salt and beat for 2 more minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and beat until very light and fluffy, 5 more minutes (stop to scrape the bowl after 3 minutes).
Add in the milk and beat for 30 seconds, just until incorporated.
Add the flour, cornstarch, and baking soda to the bowl with the mixer off.
Slowly stir in the flour, with the mixer or by hand.
Once the dough is completely homogeneous, add in the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Portion out in 2 teaspoon (smallest cookie scoop) measures for tiny cookies, or in 1/3 cup (standard ice cream/cookie scoop) portions for standard size cookies. (The larger portion size will yield approximately 12 cookies.)
You can now chill the dough balls overnight, or freeze, well wrapped, for much longer.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 6 minutes for tiny cookies, 8 minutes for larger cookies.
Cookies will seem very doughy and underdone; as they cool, they will remain super soft.
Eat warmed up with cold milk.