Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies, My Way

Do you remember the first time you ever baked or cooked (mostly) on your own? For me, it was chocolate chip cookies from the classic Toll House recipe baked in my mother's kitchen. It's not much of a stretch to say that I grew up on these cookies. It wasn't unusual for my mom's friends to request that I make cookies, and these were my standard.

The first time I was allowed to make them on my own was magic. Using the big mixing bowl and wooden spoon, the sweet metal measuring cups. Perfectly lined up gobs of cookie dough on my mom's battered baking sheets. Watching them rise and turn golden in the oven. I was the kid who sat in front of the oven with the light on to watch the entire process.

The Toll House recipe, to me, is the standard by which all chocolate chip cookies should be made. It's a good basic cookie dough, and can be easily altered to suit most tastes. My mom, like most people I know, had her own variation as do I. The best of my mom's changes was with the sugar: a higher proportion of brown than white. And no skimping on the chocolate skips, but leave the nuts out.

My own version includes cinnamon and nutmeg, in small quantities. When I have them on hand I like to add chopped walnuts or pecans for texture, but they certainly aren't necessary. If I don't have brown sugar, I don't worry about it. Always, I go overboard on the vanilla.

The mechanics of how I make the cookies have changed. The KitchenAid whips the dough up so quickly I feel like I'm cheating. My cookie scoop makes portioning, my least favourite part, a breeze. I don't always watch them rise anymore. I do still love that first warm cookie, with gooey chocolate staining my fingers.

I don't claim that this is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. I think that for cookies, to call something the "best" is too subjective. I'm always open to new recipes to try. But this, this is my favourite. And Bunny just recently took two dozen (half a batch) to school, so I thought I would share.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup butter, margarine or shortening, softened (I use margarine, but they'd be lovely with buttter)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar (doesn't really matter if it's dark or light)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 (12 ounce) package NESTLE® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
    • Hot tip: I don't ever by the packages. I buy the bulk Hershey's chips. :S I use about two cups, but it changes every time
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
    • Walnuts or pecans are best, in my mind
Directions:
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in small bowl.
  3. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl until it starts to look a little tiny bit fluffy. You shouldn't be able to really see any sugar crystals and visually the texture of the mixture changes. (Do I need pictures? I really need to get a camera and give you pictures.)
  4. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.
  5. Add the flour mixture in 3 - 4 batches, beating until mostly combined before adding the next batch of flour. 
  6. When the cookie dough is uniform, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using nuts). 
  7. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (Makes about 48)
  8. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for at least a few minutes, transfer to racks or a plate to finish cooling. (What, you think I own cooling racks? Nope.)
  9. Eat them. Get chocolate all over your hands. Enjoy. Bake again, but different.

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