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Brown Butter Brown Sugar Cookies

20 mins
15 mins
2 dozen cookies
Raymond Prado
20 mins
15 mins
2 dozen cookies


  • sticks (1/2 pound plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Royal Icing
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • tablespoons meringue powder
  • 4-5 tablespoons water
  • gel food coloring

Chef notes

This recipe is a bona fide hit. I developed it from my mother's traditional Butterzeug (butter cookie), replacing the granulated sugar with brown sugar and substituting brown butter for the clarified butter that's traditional in Butterzeug. I also added a bit more salt and added sweetened condensed milk to help round out the flavors and give the dough a lovely texture. The dough is easy to roll out and keeps its shape beautifully as a cutout cookie (get your piping tips out because this baby is ready to be decorated). But what it really has going for it is great flavor, something most cutout butter or sugar cookies don't possess. I promise you this will be a regular on your cookie plate for years to come.

Technique tip: Allow the cookies to get golden brown around the edges — but only the edges.


For the cookies:


Melt the 1/2 pound of butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Continue to cook until it simmers starts to brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Carefully pour the melted butter into a small, heatproof container, leaving behind as much as you can of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Immediately add the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter to the brown butter and all it to melt into it. Stir and refrigerate to solidify, about an hour.


Combine the brown butter and the brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until well combined but not fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk; mix to combine.


Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix until just combined.


Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Cover completely with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 20 minutes.


Line a few sheet pans with parchment. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 F.


Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough to between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick. Stamp out shapes and place about an inch apart on the parchment (or mesh baking mat).


Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the sheet pan 180 degrees, and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Allow to cool completely before decorating with royal icing.

For the royal icing:

Whisk the meringue powder and water together. Add the powdered sugar and whisk until the mixture is thick.

Thin the icing as much as needed for flooding and detail work.