1 cup (2 sticks) room-temperature butter, divided
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
½ cup sugar
2¼ cups flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
½ cup chopped pecans
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt ½ cup butter, whisking frequently. The butter will foam, then subside. Watch carefully as brown specks begin to form at the bottom of the pan, so it doesnt burn. When the specks are amber brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, 2½ to 3 minutes, remove from heat and pour into a bowl to stop cooking. Allow to cool.
Beat the remaining ½ cup butter and the brown sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very smooth, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and bourbon. Add the cooled brown butter and sugar, and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes. The mixture will lighten in color and become fluffy. Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add the flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips and pecans. Cover and refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.
Drop the dough in 2-tablespoon scoops onto the baking sheets. Leave space between each, as the cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with the sea salt.
Bake the cookies 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let rest on the baking sheet at least 5 minutes before removing. Serve warm or finish cooling on a wire rack.