Chewy Brown Sugar Cookies Recipe

Chewy and warm, with a crackly brown sugar crust, these sugar cookies take less than 30 minutes, start to finish.

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Photograph: Vicky Wasik

Why It Works

  • Melted butter makes for a denser, chewier cookie.
  • Rolling the dough in brown sugar doubles down on brown sugar flavor, while adding a crackly texture to the exterior.

I had wrist surgery a week and a half ago and have mostly been sitting on my couch at home since, attempting to get work done despite the challenge of a large, stiff cast and sore metacarpals. It's been slow going. Less slow is the rate of sugar I'm ingesting.

That's fine by me, especially if it's in the form of these chewy cookies, which were originally developed by Yvonne Ruperti for her excellent One Bowl Baking column.

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There are a couple keys to this cookie's gooey interior and soft and chewy texture. The first is the brown sugar itself. Unlike white sugar, brown sugar is slightly acidic, which means it readily reacts with the alkaline baking soda in the dough, creating plenty of carbon dioxide that softens the cookies as they bake. Brown sugar is also more hygroscopic than white sugar, meaning it hangs onto moisture more readily. (You can read more on how white and brown sugar differ in cookies here.)

The other key to these cookies is the butter. In recipes that call for creaming room temperature butter with sugar, the goal is to beat microscopic bubbles of air into the dough; when the baking soda activates, it's those little bubbles that puff up and expand into lofty cookies. In this recipe, though, the butter is melted first and then mixed with the brown sugar just enough to combine them, which means there's no aeration happening as there is with creaming. This balance of just the right amount of leavening from the brown sugar/baking soda reaction without the added leavening effects of creaming is key.

With less aeration, the brown sugar is left to excel at another of its jobs: Its acidity speeds the development of gluten in the dough and the speed at which the proteins in the dough set during baking, enhancing the dense, chewy texture of the cookies.

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To really play up the molasses-y flavor of the brown sugar, each dough ball is rolled in it first. This also enhances the crackly texture of the exterior of each cookie, along with an extra-intense blast of caramel flavor.

Recipe Facts

4.5

(19)

Active: 10 mins
Total: 25 mins
Serves: 14 to 16 servings

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Ingredients

  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (7 ounces; 200g)

  • 1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar, divided (12 1/4 ounces; 350g)

  • 3/4 teaspoon Diamond crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same by weight (3g)

  • 1 large egg (55g)

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (10ml)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (10 ounces; 285g)

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (4g)

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda (2g)

Directions

  1. Getting Started: Adjust 2 oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. Stir butter, 1 1/2 cups (10.7 ounces; 300g) brown sugar, and salt in a large bowl until combined. Stir in egg and vanilla until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and baking soda to bowl and stir until combined.

  3. Scoop 1/4-cup sized balls of dough onto rimmed baking sheets (7 to 8 per pan). Add remaining 1/4-cup (1.5 ounces; 50g) brown sugar to now empty (unwashed) bowl. Roll each dough ball into sugar, return to pan, and press to about 1 inch thick.

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  4. Bake until tops have puffed and cracked, and edges are golden, 9 to 11 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.

Special Equipment

Rimmed baking sheet, wire cooling rack, mixing bowl, digital scale

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
244 Calories
11g Fat
35g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 14 to 16
Amount per serving
Calories 244
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 6g 32%
Cholesterol 40mg 13%
Sodium 146mg 6%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 41mg 3%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 57mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)