In the midst of the 1930s, something magical happened: the Chocolate Chip Cookie was born. Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn at the time, is credited for accidentally creating the clever cookie concoction. Apparently, “Wakefield is said to have been making chocolate cookies and on running out of regular baker’s chocolate, substituted broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate from Nestlé thinking that it would melt and mix into the batter. It clearly did not and the chocolate chip cookie was born” (Jones, Charlotte Foltz (1991). Mistakes That Worked. Doubleday). Subsequently, She published a cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes in 1936 containing the recipe. And, apparently, during WWII, Soldiers from the Massachusetts area were often sent care packages containing these delicious treats. They shared them with their friends, who, in turn, sent home requests all across the nation for more of the same. And, thus, the Chocolate Chip Cookie craze was born. It was during this time that Ruth sold her recipe to Nestle in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. And, now, we each get the original recipe printed on the back of any bag of Nestlé chocolate chips we buy. Interestingly though, like many tales of origin, another side of the story popped up. George Boucher, one time head chef at the Toll House Inn, claimed that
the vibrations from a large Hobart electric mixer dislodged bars of Nestlé’s chocolate stored on the shelf above the mixer so they fell into the sugar cookie dough it was mixing, then broke them up and mixed the pieces into it. He [also] claimed to have overcome Wakefield’s impulse to discard the dough as too badly ruined to waste effort baking them, leading to the discovery of the popular combination (Wikipedia).
Whichever story is true, whether accident or not, I think we can all agree on one thing: Chocolate Chip Cookies are certainly a blessing given to mankind!
I’ve been experimenting lately with varying recipes for the perfect “CCC”, and I think I’ve FINALLY stumbled onto a close to perfect one. I started by simply copying a few standard recipes I found online. I would try one only to be a little dissatisfied. I would, then, alter the recipe slightly and try again; each time coming closer to my goal: a cookie that’s slightly crunchy on the outside, yet still sort of soft and chewy on the inside with PLENTY of chocolate chips in each bite.
I was in the midst of my cookie conundrum a week or so ago when I received a call from my mother. To be brief, she was excited to inform me that she had just won $1,000! “That’s awesome!” I congratulated, “How’d you do it?” Her reply was somewhat startling. “I entered a cookie recipe contest!” She explained. I was speechless. My mother, the one who I can barely remember cooking, the one who almost burned down the house once while boiling a pot of water…(long story), WON a cookie contest?! And, here I am, “Mr. Dinner Dash” still fumbling around with chocolate chip cookies?! Oh, the irony! The silver lining, of course, is not to be lost. My mother is increasingly more interested in cooking as I am increasingly interested. We’re now frequently discussing various ingredients and recipes, and even sharing some time in the kitchen. This all makes me think back to the very first post here on the “Dash”, (which you can jump back to here if you’d like), And, considering how I remember growing up, I hope she wins a $100,000 next time! Although, we both laugh and know that winning some contest has nothing to do with it. The best part about it is the time spent together around something so central as food.
Anyway, the pressure was then on to get right down to business and make some awesome cookies!
To sum up my findings, and to follow up on requests to simplify my posts for easier recipe following, I’ll simply state the recipe and explain a couple of things as side notes. So, here it is:
2 1/4 cups of bread flour (The bread flour will produce more gluten, thus making a chewier cookie.)
1 tsp. Baking Soda. (NOT Baking Powder…at least this has been my experience. The soda is better suited for short cooking times, and in this recipe, will produce slightly less rise…which is what I want. I used the Baking Powder in previous recipes, and didn’t like the “puffiness” of the cookies.)
1 1/2 tsp. salt (You might only want to start with 1 tsp. I think the added 1/2 tsp. really helps to bring everything together and enhance the sweetness.)
3/4 Stick Unsalted Butter (Apparently, melting the butter first will aide in the chewy factor)
1/3 cup Whole Milk (I can’t explain much about the milk. I just tried it after thinking that the dough needed to be a bit wetter, and it helped the final texture alot.)
1 cup Granulated Sugar
1 cup Light Brown Sugar
(Brown sugar and white sugar create different textures when melted. The brown sugar, having molasses added, will produce a more moist texture, while the white sugar will produce a lighter, crispier texture. I found that an equal part of the two worked out well.)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1 Large Egg
1 Large Egg Yolk – (I started out using 2 eggs, but I think subtracting the one egg white has really helped the texture.)
2 Cups of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips (I remember hearing somewhere that if you toss the chips in flour, the light coating of flour surrounding each chip will help to suspend them in the mix more thoroughly. So, this is what I do. It seems to work, although I’m not totally sure it’s necessary.)
1. Cream together the butter and sugar with the mixer on low.
2. Slowly add in the other wet ingredients.
3. Turn the mixer to medium speed until the mixture looks nice and light and creamy.
2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
3. Turn the mixer back to low, and slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients.
4. Slowly add the chocolate chips, and mix on low until thoroughly incorporated
5. The batter will make approx. 24 cookies. Bake batches of 6 at 425° for 5 min. (I realize this seems kind of high, but my thinking is that by cooking at high heat for a few minutes the sugar will carmelize on the surface more, thus creating that slight crunch on the exterior that I want.)
6. Turn heat down to 225°, and bake for another 6-8 min, or just until the very outer edges of the cookies start to brown and the tops start to slightly crack.
7. Let the cookies cool for AT LEAST 20 minutes. They will come out looking not quite done. But, like a good custard, they will firm up in the middle as they cool. Waiting a full hour before consuming would be even better.
And, that’s it! I’ve stuck with this recipe a couple of times now, and I’m very pleased with the cookies. They have a slightly crispy exterior, the center is soft and chewy, and there’s a mouthful of chocolate in every bite. I would say they’re a success. And, if you happen to be in the Morristown, TN area this week, stop by The Java Garden downtown and give one a try! They were such a success that I convinced Sara’s Mother to try to sell a few in their cafe. I think they’re even giving away a few free samples. So, what are you waiting for? Head on over there, get your hands on one of these things, and let me know what YOU think.
1. Whatever you do, don’t overcook the cookies. It’s better to have them slightly underdone than overdone. And, keep in mind that they’ll firm up quite a bit after they’ve cooled for a while
2. Shouldn’t there be a Ruth Wakefield holiday on the calendar? Well, maybe not according to George Boucher. Well then, can’t we just make it “Boucher / Wakefield day”?
3. Never underestimate a mother’s intuitive cooking prowess.