I mentioned a couple of months ago that my parents had put their house up for sale with the intent of moving to Florida. My childhood home. The one that hosted countless birthday parties. The one where mom made our Christmas outfits, Halloween costumes, prom dresses, and patched up endless worn-out knees in our 80s corduroys and hand-me-down jeans. The one with the staircase I know how to walk up juuust right to avoid the creaky steps, a skill learned as a teenager while dad snored in his chair at late at night waiting for me to come home safely. The one with the dinner table we sat around every night and the fireplace we huddled around on Christmas mornings with the Yule Log playing on the TV. So many memories. I cried for the entire week after I found out it was on the market. I imagined my parents turning into Morty and Helen, typical New Yorkers moving south in their elder years.
And then all of a sudden, they changed their minds. My dad turned 80 this year and because of some health issues earlier in the year, they decided it would be best to not uproot him and force him to adjust to a new environment away from his doctors. The bonus of this decision, now that they are both retired, is that they have the ability to visit us during the week instead of trying to cram a visit in on weekends and school holidays. And the bonus of that is coming home from work and a 1 hour commute to someone cooking dinner already. Ha!
Actually, that’s only happened once so far (and it was lovely!) but mom definitely did help me make a big batch of caramel corn to bring to work on Halloween. In the pre-microwave years, mom would make us popcorn on the stove top as we snuggled in to watch our favorite Halloween shows and the yearly November showing of The Wizard of Oz. So it only seemed fitting that she let me teach her how to make caramel corn on the same night “the Great Pumpkin” was on TV.
After both of my parents declared to me that the didn’t like caramel popcorn (whaaat?!?), I pushed a bag on them to take home anyway. I was told it was devoured. We kept a bag for ourselves also and I used the remaining 2ish cups for these caramel corn brown butter chocolate chip cookies. Yeah, it’s a mouthful of a name but holy hell, these cookies are outrageous. The brown butter flavor makes them a grown-up version of my very favorite chocolate chip cookie (the best!), and the caramel corn balances a slightly salty cookie with a good amount of sweetness and crunch. I may have skipped dinner on the night I made these cookies but it was totally worth it. With the range of strange add-ins I’ve mixed into cookies in the past year, these caramel corn brown butter chocolate chip cookies may have just moved to the top of the list. Stuffed full of caramel corn and brown butter, how could they not?
- 1 ¾ cups (8 ¾ oz) all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 14 tbsp (1 ¾ sticks) unsalted butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup dark brown sugar
- 1 ¼ tsp course sea salt
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
- 2 ½ cups caramel corn, divided
- Preheat oven to 375° F with a rack in the center position. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking soda together.
- Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet, gently swirling it around occasionally until brown bits start to form on the bottom of the pan and butter turns golden brown. Immediately pour the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and let it cool for 5 minutes. Attach the whisk attachment to the mixer.
- Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl and whisk on medium speed until combined. Add the egg and yolk and whisk for about 30 seconds, until no lumps of sugar remain. Allow the mixture to stand for 3 minutes then whisk again at medium speed for 30 seconds; repeat this cycle two more times until the mixture is thick and shiny. With a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chocolate chips and 2 cups of the popcorn.
- Divide the dough into 16 to 18 rounds of dough using medium cookie/ice cream scoop and arrange the dough on the prepared baking sheets with about 2 inches between each dough mound. Press a couple extra pieces of the remaining popcorn into the tops of the dough mounds, just to ensure you've got enough caramel corn happening in each cookie.
- Bake one sheet at a time, for 12-14 minutes (rotating the pans halfway through the time) until the cookie edges are just slightly brown and the edges easily lift up off the baking sheet. Transfer the pans to wire racks and cool completely before serving. Cookies will keep for 2-3 days at room temperature.
inspired by Annie's Eats | cookie recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, May 2009