I do not intend to make recipes a regular topic on Raptitude, but if quality of life is the theme, these are just too good to leave out.
Making chocolate chip cookies is something I do very well. Because I live alone, I don’t make them often, but I receive many compliments every time I do make a batch and share them.
The chocolate chip cookie is definitely the most frequently encountered cookie in North America. They are commonly used by grandmothers to spoil children, and by children to bait Santa Claus. It is the official state cookie of both Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
I don’t know how impartial I can be, but honestly I have never encountered a better chocolate chip cookie than the ones I make. It could just be my own taste. They are so addictive I have to distribute them to friends and family as quickly as possible, before I’m taken captive by their seductive, brown-sugary fragrance and their irresistible satin glow. Sometimes I overindulge and start eating them for breakfast and lunch. If there is a superior cookie out there, then God help us all.
My own recipe evolved as a hybrid of two glorious specimens: my mom’s chocolate chip cookies, and Martha Stewart’s. I’m not a fan of Martha, but nobody can deny she is an expert at what she does. I took the best aspects of each cookie, then experimented, sampled, refined, and sampled my way to a final formula.
I was asked not long ago if I wanted to contribute my recipe to a cookbook someone was putting together. I was uneasy at the thought of unknown people trying to reproduce my cookies simply by following a short-format recipe. To achieve the full majesty of the perfect cookie, certain steps must be explained more explicitly than is appropriate for a standard recipe card. I did not want people making assumptions and cutting corners and ending up with ordinary cookies instead, and concluding that I exaggerated when I told them they were truly special.
I have not shared this recipe until now, but on Raptitude I can call all the shots. I can use a thousand words in a recipe if I have to. Details matter immensely to me in life, and I’m convinced it’s never more than a few details that make the difference between something good and something exceptional.
Ok I’ve really talked them up here. They may not change your life, but they are really good. Let’s get on with it:
- 2½ C. Flour — [ For more robust cookies, add more, up to another quarter cup. I usually do, but I didn't have any extra when I made the cookies pictured. As a result they are flatter than normal. -- D ]
- ¾ C. Brown Sugar
- ¾ C. White Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- ½ C. Butter — [ Margarine is not an acceptable substitute for butter. Not here, not anywhere. -- D ]
- ½ C. Shortening
- 1 tsp. Baking Soda
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 2 tsp. Vanilla
- 2 C. Chocolate chips — [ I just put in a whole package. The kind is up to you. -- D ]
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix everything except the flour and chocolate chips until uniform. Squish any lumps with a spoon. If you’re using an electric beater, make sure you stop periodically to scrape all the unmixed ingredients off the sides of the mixing bowl.
- Add in some of the flour (maybe a third of it) and mix until uniform. Continue until all the flour has been added. Don’t get lazy and add it all at once; this detail matters. When it is again uniform, mix in the chocolate chips.
- Roll into golf-ball sized spheres and place them on a cookie sheet. They don’t have to be perfect spheres. As for the cookie sheet, you can do it the old fashioned way and grease it with oil or butter, but I highly recommend that you instead place the balls on a layer of parchment paper. This way you can remove them easily without risking damage, and it will protect the cookies from absorbing the smell of french fries and samosas or whatever you last used your cookie sheet for. Parchment paper also seems to add a mysterious je ne sais quoi to the color around the cookie’s edges. It can be found somewhere near the wax paper in the grocery store.
- Put them in the oven on the middle rack for 8 or nine minutes, depending on how big you made them. Check in at 8 minutes, in any case. The time to take them out is when the middle of the cookie stops looking wet and shiny and starts looking satiny. Satiny is the only word that works here. You will know satiny when you see it.
- Let them cool. Serve with milk, if circumstances allow.
Yields 3 dozen. Keep in a sealed container.
A few notes about the recipe:
- Originally I used butter and shortening interchangeably, depending on what was on hand. I found that I preferred the flavor when I used butter, and the texture when I used shortening. Now I would never leave either out. Most recipes use only butter, and this gives a more hardened, grainy texture in my experience.
- Traditional cookie doctrine calls for less brown sugar than white, sometimes 3 parts white to 1 part brown. I figured this was unfair to the brown sugar, which has always been far more charming and exotic than our pedestrian white sugar. I decided to give it equal standing with its caucasian cousin, and the world became a better place.
- These cookies are not healthy. At all. They’re only a slab of shortening away from being eligible for This Is Why You’re Fat.
I know many of you are already loyal to a particular chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I don’t want to encourage any infidelity. But if you are without an emotionally-invested cookie recipe — or you’re the type that insists on not being tied down by traditional arrangements — I urge you to give these a try.
The most gratifying part is always sharing them. Best served unexpected, with no special occasion to speak of.
Photos by David Cain