Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Top-secret recipe

Shhhh. Don’t tell ANYONE! I’m about to reveal my top-secret chocolate chip cookie recipe.

My oldest son’s love language is Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. So for his birthday this week, I made a large chocolate chip cookie for each child in his class, decorated with the number “8”.

He came home from school yesterday and said, “Mom, the kids were talking about you today.”

“Oh, no,” I responded. (Actually, I didn’t. I just said, “Really?”)

“They said, ‘Andrew, you have the best mom. She makes THE BEST chocolate chip cookies'.”

Being the lover of verbal affirmation that I am, I begged for more compliments and then went about the rest of the day soaring on a cloud. “The second graders LOVE my chocolate chip cookies!” I told myself a hundred more times that evening.

Actually, if there is one thing I can cook, it’s a chocolate chip cookie. Much better than my improvised recipe of chicken lasagna I made this week, which went almost directly into the garbage disposal after a long hour of work and waiting. Anyway.

I will brag on myself and say that I have been asked many times for my famous chocolate chip cookie recipe. So, I’m going to reveal it right now.

Step 1. Go buy a bag of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips.
Step 2. Flip it to the back.
Step 3. Read the recipe.

OK. So, there you have it. That’s my recipe. But seriously, I have found that there are some steps that are JUST as important as the recipe in creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie, and I want to share those with you.

1. Follow the recipe to the T. Don’t mess around when you are measuring the ingredients. In fact, I swear that you MUST use large eggs, not medium. That’s how serious I am about measuring.

2. The one substitution I do make occasionally is that I use butter-flavored Crisco sticks instead of margarine. If you want a perfect LOOKING chocolate chip cookie, this will make it nice and round and chewy. The only thing I don’t like about Crisco is that it makes the cookies dry out more quickly. So usually by the second day, they are dried out.

3. Before adding the margarine, microwave it on high for about 20 seconds. You want it nice and soft, but you don’t want it completely melted.

4. Don’t ever bake chocolate chip cookies in a muggy or damp room. This will ruin them every time. Likewise, don’t make them when you are crying or generally in a bad or sad mood. The cookies KNOW and they will flop if they don’t feel the love.

5. This is the MOST IMPORTANT PART! I find that my cookies turn out best if I make them a bit larger than your standard-sized cookie. I scoop them out with a medium scoop. Then I take a small handful of chocolate chips (four, to be exact) and place those right on the top of the cookie. When it spreads out, these will move apart, too, and the cookie will look like it's bursting with chocolate chips.

6. MOST IMPORTANT PART, CONT'D. Take the cookies out of the oven before they are brown at all on the top. They should be just a wee bit brown on the edges, but the top part should still look like it's not quite done. As the cookies cool, they will harden up a bit. If you bake them until they are brown on the top, they will be hard when they cool.

7. I find that my cookies turn out best if I bake them on a stoneware bar pan. I have tried everything: metal pans, pizza pans, even an 11x7 pan with the sides on it. Some make them too soft, too flat, too cakelike. The stoneware pan is best, but it must be preheated. DO NOT, whatever you do, use one of those insulated pans. They will make the cookies too cake-y. And if you want cake, bake a cake. (This is just my opinion, of course.)

8. Finally, if you are having problems with your cookies, the flour is usually the culprit. Too much will make them hard. Too little will make them spread out like a pancake. Either that, or it could be what my sister did in high school, and you have accidentally substituted powered sugar for flour. NOT a good substitution.

9. I almost forgot one thing. PLEASE use name-brand chocolate chips. I'm fine with generic flour or sugar or even margarine, but the chocolate chips just gotta be a name brand. I prefer Nestle, but I've found that Hershey's are just as good. And I stick with the semi-sweet.

As you can see, I could write a BOOK about chocolate chip cookies. This is a serious obsession of mine. But right now, I'm craving one so badly that I need to go turn on the oven.

Could you please, pretty please, leave me a comment about your most top-secret, never-to-be-revealed recipe? I promise, I will not tell a SOUL!


WilyHacker said...

Not to mess with a your technique which is obviously getting rave reviews, but I always go with real butter that has been sitting at room temperature most of the day.

The one other thing that helps to make perfect cookies: a convection oven. At our previous house I ordered a built in conventional oven from Grant's. They delivered the more expensive convectional variant instead. After calling them about it and never hearing back, I installed what they delivered. Perfect cookies, one batch all at once, done in a very short time. I miss that oven. *sniff*

everydayMOM said...

Excellent advice, Wily. I've never been a big real butter user, but I know many people swear by it.

I so wish I had any clue how a convection oven works. It's probably a good thing I don't know or I might be missing one like you are right now. Sorry to bring back those sad memories.

Anonymous said...

First. I have been eating your cookies since high school and they are the best! They are beautiful to look at (and Giada says we eat with our eyes first...whatever, I want it down my esophogus NOW), and they are yummy. I always thought it was the W. artistic gene. Is there nothing your family cannot do?!

Second. My neighbor brags on his convection oven all of the time. But he still eats my cookies. I still want one, though.

I think the one ingredient that makes them taste best is, of course, love. (OK, and the fact that we always want to hear how yummy our baked goods are, makes us try even harder to make them taste yummy.)

everydayMOM said...

Thank you, dear high school friend. You bring up some important points.

Many people think my CCC-making skills came from my job in college at a cookie store. They don't realize I have been working on perfecting the CCC since I was about 10 years old.

Second, I went through a huge CCC slump when we moved into this house. I couldn't make a CCC to save my life. They flopped every time. I think now it was hormones. I was pregnant or nursing a child for about six years straight and the cookies weren't feeling the love. Too many mixed emotions!

Kristina Springer said...

Well, I have to pipe in here. My chocolate chip cookies have been getting top rating since I was a teenager. I never understood why but everyone always loves them. The only thing I can figure out that I do differently is totally microwave the butter (oh, I use butter not margarine). Does that really make it so different? I don't know. I also use Trader Joe's chocolate chips-- Best ever I swear!

And how cool that you can bake for your kids class-- I hate that everything is so regulated now. At preschool it's down to you can bring packaged rice krispies and that' it.

Anonymous said...

I know that this is a really old post, but I just had to comment, maybe you'll never see it. But this reminds me of when we were kids & we made chocolate chip cookie dough at your house and never bothered to make the cookies. I had never done that before - it is still a fond memory and I still love chocolate chip cookie dough!! (from Julie Benson McCombs)

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