Guys, can I tell you about a magical place? Butter & Scotch.
Picture one of the coolest bars in Brooklyn, neon sign and all. Then add one part creative drinks (think peanut butter old fashioned served with honey nut cheerios), one part scrumptious desserts, and three parts bad-ass women bartenders. See that in your mind? Well you’ve got a bit of an idea of what Butter & Scotch is like.
Abby, Sara, and I indulged in a foodie adventure (with some shopping, of course) of Manhattan and New York a couple of months ago, and Butter & Scotch was an obvious must-visit. Let’s just say that the boozy, sweet reputation preceded this lovely locale. We sidled up to the bar and promptly ordered whiskey drinks and a variety of treats…we entered our happy place.
Small side-note—meeting up with bloggers IRL is just the best. I can’t really describe how amazing it is to finally see people face-to-face that you interact with all the time. See the full round-up of the trip over at Sara’s blog!
Anyhow, after spending a late Friday night here, we all decided that we needed to collaborate on a post together to highlight Butter & Scotch, in all its glory. It’s that good. And they have a cookbook! Which made it convenient to say the least.
One treat I just needed to try when perusing the menu was the unicorn treat. First, who wouldn’t want to try that fluffy, girly, magical thing? But second, it’s a cookie which is kind of my jam. Right after French fries, cookies are probably my favorite. And guess what? This cookie did not disappoint. It was nutty (from browned butter), salty, and not-too-sweet making for the best kind of flavor profile. The texture was soft and chewy and, most importantly, moist. (I’m sorry, there is just no other way to convey that sort of texture without using that awful word!)
Sara and I frantically searched through our respective cookbooks there at the bar, but the cookie was not there! Desperate to make the cookie at home, I emailed Butter & Scotch to grab it. And when the three of us decided to collaborate on a post in the spirit of the bar, I just knew that I wanted to share the cookie with you.
This particular cookie recipe stumped me a bit when I saw that almost a whole cup of water was added to the dough. Wait, this is a cookie recipe, right? Well the magic in that water is twofold. First, we brown the butter which inevitably loses some of the water no matter how gentle you heat it. If you want to maintain the amount of water you originally intended, you need to compensate for this.
But the real magic of that huge addition of water comes into play with the eggs. I mentioned before that these cookies are soft and chewy—they’re basically like a brownie in cookie form. Most of the unique texture is caused by using egg yolks only. Eight of them in fact. Those egg yolks add a bunch of fat without the structural proteins that egg whites contribute. Without that egg white structure, we have a dough with a looser construction. As a result, the overall cookie has a softer texture. However, egg whites are predominantly water. Sensing why we need to add water? Bingo! Replace the water we lose from taking out the eggs whites. And now that we don’t have egg whites, we can add waaaay more egg yolks to get the soft, fatty effect we want.
Now if you’re a food ingredient nerd like me, you may be thinking that those egg whites have another important purpose, like holding the cookie together. But those egg yolks also have important emulsifiers that keep your fat and water ingredients friendly. Basically, that leaves us with as much good stuff as possible—chewy and soft and moist galore!
One more thing—that extra fat prevents much gluten formation which also allows for an overall softer and richer mouthfeel in your cookie. Unicorn Treat, indeed!
Makes 2 dozen depending on size of cookies
Adapted from Butter & Scotch
1 ½ cups unsalted butter (3 sticks)
½ cup plus ⅓ cup cold water
1 ⅔ cup (335 g) granulated sugar
1 ⅔ cup (365 g) dark brown sugar
8 large egg yolks
⅓ cup canola oil or other vegetable oil
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1 pound 10 ounces all-purpose flour (about 6 cups or 750 g)
2 ¾ teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt
For decorating: rainbow sprinkles, large-grain decorating sugar, and coarse sea salt (salt is optional and an extra thing I added, but the salt helps bring out the nutty flavors and offset the sweet)
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Continue to heat, swirling every so often to brown the butter. We don’t want to lose too much water here, so if the butter starts to boil too much, reduce the heat. Be careful not to burn the milk solids. See more on this process here.
- Once the butter begins to slightly brown and smell nutty, remove from the heat. Allow to cool slightly and add ½ cup water to the pan. Whisk to combine.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the sugars followed by the brown butter mixture from step two. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, oil, vanilla, and remaining ⅓ cup water until smooth. Add this mixture to the sugars/butter mixture from step three.
- In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add half of this dry ingredient mixture to the wet ingredients and fold together. Once almost incorporated, add the rest of the dry ingredients and gently fold to combine.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. This not only allows the flour to absorb some of the water, but it gives the butter time to solidify so that the cookies do not spread too much in the oven.
- The next day, preheat oven to 350⁰F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- On a shallow plate, mix together what you want your cookies to be covered in. I used rainbow sprinkles (jimmies), large grain decorating sugar (if you have gold or silver sprinkles, use them! It is called unicorn!), and a few pinches of coarse sea salt to balance out the sweetness.
- Using a ½-cup cookie scoop, scoop the dough out and place the flat side into your hand. Roll the top and sides of the cookie dough ball into the topping mix. I like to roll a small amount of the outside of the bottom (flat side) into the mix as well so that when the cookie spreads, you ensure that the whole cookie-top is covered!
- Place the cookie on one of the cookie sheets leaving space for 5 other cookies. (6 cookies to a sheet pan) Flatten the top slightly with the palm of your hand. Repeat until you have a full cookie sheet. Place on the center rack in the oven. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, rotating halfway through to bake evenly. The cookies should be golden brown on the edges but just light in the center. Remove from the oven and let cool before removing.
- While the first pan is baking, prepare the second sheet. Bake once the first pan is out of the oven.
- When the first pan is cool, you can either start the process all over again to finish out the cookies (two more total sheet pans), or you can freeze the dough for future baking.
- Store baked cookies in an airtight container up to 4 or 5 days.