Updated: Oct 2, 2020
These cookies are my absolute favorite go-to cookie to make for pretty much any occasion. I made them over the weekend since my girlfriend and I were going for a weekend away on the Washington coast. Normally these have egg in them, but the girlfriend is allergic to egg. Since it's generally bad form to kill your girlfriend (especially if she's doing all the driving!) I decided to try some of the tricks I've read about for substituting egg in recipes. I was worried that it would be tricky in this recipe because I usually use one whole egg plus one egg yolk in this recipe, but it turned out PERFECT with no egg at all. I was so delighted with the result that I did the applesauce substitution on a tart crust over the weekend, too. (Another blog post coming on that.) I didn't expect the texture to be quite so on-point with these, but I could tell NO difference between these and the regular egg variety. I think I'll be switching over to the applesauce version from now on!
I prefer to brown my butter the night before I am going to make these cookies. I let the butter re-solidify over night, and then come back up to room temp before I start baking. This gives me a great consistency to work with when creaming the butter and sugar together.
Letting the dough sit overnight really helps the dough and flavors come together. Highly recommended!
The dough freezes beautifully. I often make the batter, scoop the dough into balls, and put the balls in a freezer bag which I lay flat in my freezer. This is great if you want to be able to make just a few cookies at a time, or you want to make them ahead of an event.
Sour cream is a good substitute for the Greek yogurt. If you want to up the vanilla flavor in these even more, you can use vanilla yogurt instead of plain.
If you don't have cacao nibs, feel free to substitute with chopped nuts or more chocolate chips. I like using cacao nibs because they add some extra crunch and texture but they don't trigger anyone's nut allergies.
My go-to chocolate chips are Ghirardelli bittersweet 60% cacao. Milk chocolate is good, too, but I like the combination of the darker chocolate with the sea salt in these.
Any coarse sea salt will work for sprinkling on top, but I think the Maldon Sea Salt Flakes are the prettiest! I pick up a pinch and rub between my fingers over the cookies to get nice, irregular salty bits dusting the top.
My gas oven seems to get these cookies baked to perfection at around 15 minutes. They'll still look soft on the outside and in the center when they come out of the oven, but they'll keep baking if you leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to cool. Experiment and see what works best for your oven.
Eggless Brown Butter Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep Time: 2 hours 20 mins
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes
Servings: 24-36 cookies
2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. + 1 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips
1/2 c. cacao nibs
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling on top
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan. Continue to whisk and remove from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown and give off a nutty aroma. Immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool for 5-10 minutes or until cool enough to touch. Place the browned butter in the refrigerator to firm.
With a stand mixer, whisk the brown butter and sugars until well combined, about 1 minute. Beat in the applesauce, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Fold in the chocolate chips and cacao nibs.
Chill your dough for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator, or up to 24 hours.
Once dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You might need to take out the dough and thaw it out a bit before measuring the dough if it is super hard. Once ready to bake, measure 2 heaping tablespoons of the dough or use a medium cookie scoop. Place dough balls on cookie sheet, 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies 13-17 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn golden brown. They will look a bit underdone in the middle, but will continue to cook once out of the oven! Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes to allow them to set up, then sprinkle each cookie with sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.