Browned Butter Cinnamon Sugar Cookies

This is a slight variation on Brown Butter Salted Caramel Cookies, a favorite of some of my colleagues.

Servings: 36 cookies

1-1/4 cup (2-1/2 sticks) butter, divided, room temperature
2 eggs
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, divided
2-3/4 cups (11-1/2 oz.) shifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup caramel sauce, such as Hershey
3 cups Confectioners’ sugar
2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt

Brown butter
Heat 1 cup (2 sticks) butter over medium heat on the stove in a medium sauce pan. Watch butter closely and swirl occasionally. Butter will foam and after a few minutes the foam will start to brown slightly. Remove from heat as soon as brown coloring appears. Transfer to a heat-proof container, including all of the browned pieces stuck to the pan, and let butter cool to room temperature.

Cream butter and sugars
When butter is cooled, preheat oven to 350 degrees-F. Place butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined. Add eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla extract and mix until incorporated.

Add dry ingredients
In a separate small bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Shift to combine. Slowly add dry ingredients to large mixing bowl and combine.  Scrap sides of bowl as needed to combine all ingredients.

Form cookies and bake
When dough is formed, use a measuring spoon or small melon-baller to divide dough into 1-inch diameter balls. Place remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar in a shallow bowl. Roll each dough ball in the sugar and place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Place sugared balls several inches apart. Use a measuring cup or drinking glass to flatten the balls to about 2-1/2 inches diameter. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets half way through baking for even browning. Remove from oven and let cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to colling racks to cool completely.

Frost and salt
In a medium mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, remaining 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, and remaining 1/4 cup butter. Combine with a hand mixer or stand mixer until smooth. Slowly add Confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth. Working with one cookie at a time, use an angled spatula and frost cookie with approximately 2 tsp. of frosting. Immediately sprinkle the cookie with coarse sea salt so the salt sticks to the frosting – salt lightly, a little on each cookie is all that is needed.

Frosting will harden slightly after a few hours at room temperature, faster in the refrigerator, making it easier for transport or storage. Store in an air-tight container.

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