If you've read the about me, you'll know this blog is the product of a lot of fantastic people asking for my recipes. I'm not a professional baker, I've never been trained in cooking, and I'm not an expert. That being said, I do often bake delicious things. I do so in a very small, basic kitchen, so I like to think that my recipes are good for everyone, no matter what set up you are dealing with. (I mean it when I say basic....my oven is pretty much a gas powered easy bake that fits one cookie sheet at a time lengthwise, and I'm currently baking without a spatula, since I dropped mine down the abyss behind my counter.....don't ask....I'm a disaster.)
That being said, I thought a good place to start this blog would be with the basics: A really really good chocolate chip cookie. I like my chocolate chip cookies to be soft and have an equal mix of cookie and chocolate, so the dough part is of equal importance to the presence of the chocolate, not just a vehicle for eating the chocolate. The good thing about a recipe of this nature is that the base dough recipe can be used as a base for many kinds of cookies, so you can make a number of cookies with minimal effort.
What's great about this particular recipe:
- It is easy and fast
- The cookies freeze well (see info below)
- The dough keeps and freezes well (see info below)
- The cookies are delicious
(For a printable version of this recipe, click here)
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Yield - 2 1/2 dozen generously sized cookies)
1 1/2 cups shortening
1 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups white flour (or, you can use 2 cups white & 2 cups whole wheat flour)
1 cup chocolate chips (I like mini ones)
Step #1 - Preheat oven to 375* F.
Step #2 - In a large bowl, cream together shortening*, sugars, eggs and vanilla. Use a mixer for this if you have one. If you don't, that's ok, this is a hearty recipe and it will work pretty much however you do it. Whenever you are working with a recipe like this that involves creaming fats, sugars and eggs before adding dry ingredients with a baking soda/baking powder rising agent, the more you can beat the creamed mixture before, the better. If you have a stand mixer and can just let it mix while you prepare the next step, great! If not, mix it well and then right before you get to adding the dry ingredients (step #4) give it another whirl for a minute or so. This is a trick I learned from either Alton Brown or NPR. I can't remember which; educational programing just all runs together in my head. Basically, beating the sugar/fat mixture well adds air to it and assists in the chemical reaction with the baking powder/soda. Who knew, right??
*A lot of people I know are weird about shortening and prefer to use only butter. For some reason, shortening grosses them out. A lot of my recipes use it, so, if you are one of those people, um...sorry. BUT, if you prefer to use butter here, you can, the cookies may just come out a little more flat. As someone who is grossed out by a lot of foods, I find the fear of shortening funny-- like, how is it any grosser than butter? It's hydrogenated veggie fat--- butter is solidified milk fat. You want to start creeping yourself out....start thinking about what milk actually IS........ANYWAY....
Step #3 - In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking soda. Just because we are going back to basics, a quick reminder that you do this NOT just to make extra, annoying, dishes, BUT to make sure that the salt and soda are well mixed in the flour so that they can be evenly distributed in the cookies. No one wants to bite into a glob of baking soda. Or salt. Or eat a cookie that didn't get any soda or salt. Gross.
Step #4 - Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar/shortening/egg mixture. Don't use the mixer at this point, use a spoon or a spatula. Once you get more than a third of the four mixed in, it will become too thick to use your mixer effectively. Plus, like with any dough, you don't want to beat it too badly once you've added the baking soda.
Step #5 - Add chocolate chips. (It is OK to use more than a cup, eyeball it and get the ratio you like) Mix in your chocolate chips, or any other mix-ins. I love this recipe with chocolate chips and walnuts; white chocolate chips and dried cherries; or anything else you want.I like to use mini-chocolate chips because they distribute evenly throughout the dough and offer, in my opinion, a better balanced cookie. Last weekend I added peanut butter cups, chocolate chips and pretzel pieces to them and it was AWESOME. I used about a cup of each, maybe a little more. See??
Step #6 - Drop on to cookie sheet several inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes. I like to drop them in globs the size of a very large walnut or a rather petite golf ball. They do expand quite a bit, so give them room. You'll want to pull them out of the oven when they are just barely brown, when they look like they are *almost* done but not quite. You know that moment when you are like, "Humm...do these look done...what do you think? I think they need another minute-- you??" When you are thinking that is when you scream, "TAKE THEM OUT NOW NOW NOOOOOW!!!!!!" Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a minute or so before you transfer them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Even if the centers look doughy, they will firm up while sitting on the cookie sheet. If you wait for the cookies to brown in the oven, they will cool really hard. If you like crispy cookies, by all means, ignore me. If you do over bake them, just eat them warm. Or give them to kids who are too young to know that the cookie is supposed to be more delicious. :-)
How to freeze the cookies or the dough:
So, if, for some reason, you don't want to have a mad cookie feast and eat ALL THE COOKIES at once or make all the dough at once, the cookies and the dough freeze really well.
To freeze dough: Line a cookie sheet with wax paper. Roll the dough into balls and place them on the cookie sheet. They can be closer than if you were baking, as long as they don't touch. Put the cookie sheet, uncovered, in the freezer for at least three hours. (Overnight is best). Once the dough balls are frozen, remove them from the cookie sheet and put them in an airtight container or bag. You can then take them out one at a time to bake them. This is awesome if you live alone and you just want one or two cookies at a time. You can bake directly from frozen and just follow the same baking instructions, but increase baking time by 2-3 minutes.
To freeze cookies: Freezing the cookies is easy-- just wait for them to cool and then put them in an airtight container or bag. Freeze. DONE. You can even eat them frozen. I may or may not have spent most my childhood sneaking frozen cookies out of the freezer. Alternately, you can use press-and-seal plastic wrap to pack them in groups of two or three and then pop the small packages in the freezer. These little packs are great for lunches-- put it in your lunch bag and they are thawed by the time you eat! Also, they can stop you from, say, eating the whole bag of frozen cookies at once....not that anyone would do that.......I mean.........