A Year of Cookies – 365 Days of Sweetness
We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail or a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.
My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.
I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!
Cookie recipe #1 is the ever famous Chocolate Chip Cookie. I basically follow the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe with a few variations. Here is the recipe: 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt,
1 cup (2 sticks)butter, softened, 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 3/4 cup packed brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 2 cups (12 oz.) Chocolate chips, 1 cup chopped nuts.
This is the way I make them: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I start with the butter (not margarine). I prefer to letit set out to soften for an hour or two, but if I forget, it can be softened in the microwave for about 20 seconds-it should only be soft, not melted. Using a large mixing bowl, put the butter in it and mix with an electric mixer (I prefer a hand one, but a standing one can be used or can be mixed by hand if neither is available). Whip for about 30 seconds, then add the white sugar and brown sugar (make sure the brown sugar is tightly packed). Beat again for about 30 seconds until completely mixed in. Slightly push the mixture to the sides of the bowl so you can crack the 2 eggs into the center and beat them with the mixer for about 20 seconds then begin incorporating the eggs and dough together.
Next measure and add the vanilla extract. I like to occasionally use 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for a little nuttier taste. Blend for about 20 seconds. Using a sifter, spoon the flour in measuring cup then pour into sifter over bowl of dough; repeat with baking soda and salt. Mix well, until all flour is completely mixed into the dough. By hand, stir in 2 cups of chocolate chips. I like to use more chips than the recipe, usually 3 cups or more. I like chocolate in every bite, as a cookie should be! If you like nuts, this would be the time to mix them in.
Drop by rounded teaspoon onto a cookie sheet. Some people use parchment paper; some spray their pans with a cooking spray. I do neither and have never had a sticking problem with this cookie. I then sprinkle a pinch of raw sugar on the top of each cookie and pop them in the oven. One sheet at a time ensures an even-baked cookie.
I bake my cookies for about 10-11 minutes. I have made these for so long I can smell when they are done. They should be medium brown on the outsides, but slightly under done on the insides. They should have a little height to them-if they have spread too much and are completely flat, add a little more flour to the mix. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and leave cookies on the baking sheet for about 30 seconds to 1 minute to continue baking.
Using a good flipper (I use a Kitchenaid slotted silicone one) remove the cookies to cooling racks. While still warm, I like to grate chocolate over the cookies for extra taste. I keep a few chocolate chips in the freezer for this purpose. A choclate candy bar could be used or whatever chocolate you prefer. I grate a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate and white chocolate for an appealing look.
At this point, allow to cool for about 5 minutes, then enjoy a mouthful of chocolate richness warm from the oven or if you prefer allow to cool completely then store in an airtight container or ziploc bag. I have found, if for some reason they are not consumed all in the first day (what's up with that?), you can freeze them and pull out a few as needed, for a close to fresh cookie.
I have been making these cookies since my oldest son was able to eat a cookie (he is now 29!) At least once every 2 weeks, sometimes every week, I was whipping up a batch of choclate chip cookies. If there were no cookies in the house, the world could not continue to spin. His wife now bakes for him as his love for chocolate chip cookies continues. So, after baking this many batches, this is the way I make a chocolate chip cookie.