My mom is a baker. Like me, she enjoys putting together butter, flour and sugar to create a delicious treat. Growing up, you could often find homemade bread and muffins cooling on wire racks in the kitchen. When it was our (my sister, Abby and me) turn to bring snack to Kindergarten, we never brought something that was store-bought. While I can certainly appreciate this now, it was sometimes hard to be the only kid at the lunch table without a pudding cup, Ding Dong, or Little Debbie Snack Cake. To this day, neither Abby nor I have ever had a Twinkie (although I have a feeling we aren’t missing out on much).
Some of my earliest memories revolve around baking with my mom. When we made chocolate chip cookies, we always followed the recipe on the back of the nestle toll house bag. Is this ingenious? No. But is it the best? Hands down yes!
One specific memory I have was when my mom would add the brown sugar. It was inevitable that some would spill onto the counter as she packed it down in the measuring cup. Never fail, she would let me eat the sugar that had made its way to the counter and I would be in heaven. Now that I bake on my own, I have realized how much easier it is to pack the sugar into the measuring cup by scooping the cup into the bag of sugar and pressing it against the sides of the bag. This way you avoid spills and don’t get the sticky residue all over your hands. I have a sneaky suspicion that my mother figured out this trick as well, but continued to do it her way when I was around.
Another thing I remember about making chocolate chip cookies was eating the cookie dough. Licking the beaters was a given; however, Abby and I didn’t stop there. After we finished making the dough and we were getting ready to start baking them, either Abby or I would suggest to my mother that she call her mom. Baking cookies was a weekend activity, as was our mom’s weekly call to our grandmother. So once we got the first sheet of cookies in the oven, my mom would dial up our grandmother and spend the next hour or so chatting with her. During this time, Abby and I would entertain ourselves by eating nearly all of the cookie dough in the bowl. I remember the first time I made chocolate chip cookies on my own, I was shocked by how many cookies the recipe actually made.
Whenever I make cookies now, I am tempted to call my mom and tell her that she should call her mother. I am not sure if it is to relieve my guilt for eating the dough, or an old habit, but it just seems like the right thing to do.
While my cooking and baking skills are still being fine tuned, I am confident in saying that I have mastered the chocolate chip cookie. The trick to this, fairly straightforward concoction, is two-fold. First, I prefer butter flavored Crisco sticks to regular butter. Second, when I bake the cookies, I reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees (from 375 as the recipe calls for). I normally cookie them for about 9-10 minutes – try to take them out right as they start to brown. It is my “unprofessional opinion” that these two steps will result in soft, gooey cookies. And let’s be honest, people who like hard crunchy cookies are just crazy. Another thing I have found recently, that improves upon the original nestle toll house cookie – chocolate chunks, as opposed to chips, have a much better effect. (Unfortunately, when I made these cookies today, I only had chips in my house!)
Try these few changes to the recipe and you can master the chocolate chip cookie as well. Just make sure that you have some milk nearby!