Let’s talk about chocolate chip cookies. There is probably nothing that gets made in my house more often than the chocolate chip cookie. To me they are the ultimate comfort food. They were a staple when I was growing up. That smell of warm cookies emanating from the oven is like a siren’s call to me and it now has the same effect on my children.
When I was younger, there was quite a debate in my family as to what was the perfect chocolate chip cookie. For my sisters and me the best was just out of the oven, warm and soft. My father, on the other hand, inexplicably preferred them crunchy. So my mother, in deference to both, would bake the first batch for us and then the last half would be left in the oven to brown a little longer. My father would eat the rest of the cookies once they had cooled and hardened. To this day I question his sanity, but I have resolved that I cannot educate him on the error of his ways. He will not be swayed so we must assume he is crazy and move on.
For those of you who agree that cookies should be eaten warm and fresh I have a few thoughts on the subject. Chocolate chip cookie recipes are everywhere; recipes with oatmeal, recipes with vanilla pudding packets in the mix, recipes that must wait three days before baking. To my mind the original recipe, created by Ruth Wakefield is still the best. They turn out just as these cookies should, soft and melting on the inside, crisp at the edges with just the right balance of cookie to chocolate. The dilemma, and I think the reason for all the debate and the different recipes, is keeping them that way. In my opinion, the only way to do that is to have them fresh out of the oven.
My solution is to bake them off in small batches and keep the rest of the dough in the refrigerator or freezer. In the refrigerator the dough only lasts 2-3 days so, if it cannot be used up within that time, scoop the dough into tablespoon sized balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and then move them into a freezer bag. They can last in the freezer like this for about a month and can be baked right from frozen, just add a couple of minutes to the bake time. Then anytime you want fresh cookies, just pop a few on a cookie sheet and bake them off.
My other trick is to shave a minute off the bake time. That way, the centres are soft and will stay that way even after the cookies have cooled.
Original Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, slightly colder than room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups choclate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack to the middle of the oven.
Mix dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In an electric mixer, beat together butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in dry ingredients just to incorporate, do not overmix. By hand, stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.
Drop by rounded tablespoon onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 9-11 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit 2 minutes. Remove to cooling rack to cool further. Enjoy warm!