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Fumee de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies

When all is calm in our lives it seems that most of us enjoy a bit of adventure. We try a new recipe, we choose a restaurant for the sole reason that we have never been there, we hike a trail we have never been on. In short, we try something new.

But when life throws unexpected and sometimes painful events at us nothing is more comforting than a plate of cookies Mom made. We do not search for her special holiday cookies when life hurts; we want her plain old every day chocolate chip cookies.

For years I did not bake chocolate chip cookies because I considered them to be boring plain old every day dime a dozen not worth my time anybody can make them go buy a dozen at the grocery store blech cookies. The hard times brought on by the hurricanes in Houston and Florida and the tragic fires in the Pacific Northwest, however, have changed my usual negative attitude toward America's go to cookie to one of wanting to explore this national monument one more time.

The soft, slightly chewy and gooey brown sugar cookie really is not only comforting but it is also delicious. I like them fresh out of the oven with the just melted chocolate in a still warm cookie. I also like mixing things up just a bit even when my world is rocking; but only a little bit for right now.

This afternoon I reached for a bag of chocolate chips, butter, and brown sugar to keep life the same but I also pulled a bottle of Fumee de Sel out of the pantry to keep life interesting.

Fumee de Sel is a large flaked, slightly smoky flavored salt. When a pinch is sprinkled over just out of the oven chocolate chip cookies the large flakes settle into the melted chocolate chips and slightly gooey brown sugar cookie. It adds a depth of flavor that turns a ho-hum cookie into one that sings!

Browning the butter before mixing the cookies not only makes the cookies a breeze to mix but also adds a depth of toffee flavor that is unparalleled in the cookie world. Carry this step as far as you can without actually burning the butter. Be aware! Butter goes from deep toffee flavor to burned very quickly. Don't walk away from your simmering butter; watch it very, very closely. Take it off the heat after the butter has turned a golden brown and has a most delightful nutty aroma.

If you do not have Fumee de Sel in your pantry then use Kosher salt or any other large flaked salt. Table salt will get lost atop your hot gooey cookie but a large flaked salt will make itslef known in a most delightful way.

Fumee de Sel Chocolate Chip Cookies

1¾ cup flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

14 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ cup granulated sugar

¾ cup packed dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 large egg yolk

1¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips

Fumee de Sel (or any large flaked salt) for sprinkling

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or a silpat mat.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl; set aside.

Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until melted. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until

butter is golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and pour into a heatproof bowl.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the butter and whisk until it is fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until the mixture is smooth with no lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide the dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. For best results chill the cookie balls for 45 -60 minutes before baking.

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are sill soft, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Transfer the baking sheet to wire rack and sprinkle each fresh out of the oven cookie with a pinch of large flaked salt. Cool the cookies 2 minutes and then carefully lift each hot cookies to the wire rack. Let cool completely and then enjoy.

This recipe doubles very well.

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