Friday, February 17, 2012

THE Cookies. Yes, THOSE Cookies.

Over the years, I have developed this crazy reputation as an expert chocolate chip cookie baker. My best friends have told me to not even try to be humble about it. Just admit it. So I am. My chocolate chip cookies are Uhthankyou.

My cookie baking started young. I would stand on the door of the open dishwasher to help my mom, starting when I was maybe two years old. (I'm not suggesting that as a good idea for your kids - at least one dishwasher broke that way and my parents wised up and got me a stool. It was cute and wooden and the legs looked like elephants).  Anyway . . . I've already told you that my mom did pass down her mad baking skills. She made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. And, she taught me how to make them.

Detour:  I know that I've been mentioning my mom a lot. Things about myself have just been reminding me of her.  Yikes! Scary, I know. LOL! One of these days I will share on here the story about my mom, and breast cancer, and losing her.  Needless to say, she was my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and (obviously) had so much influence on my life.

Back to the cookies. The first time I had an inkling there was something special about these cookies was in late elementary school.  My family spent our summers at a lakeside home in this little place called The Northwoods. It is near Mt. St. Helens, close to the town of Cougar, Washington.  That is a sufficient reference point for all of you right? The metropolis of Cougar, population 12.

So, my mom would sometimes run out of ways to occupy us, especially if the weather wasn't ideal for waterskiing and swimming. See, there is no electricity at this home . . . that means no cable TV, no movies, no phone. The interweb was not even invented back them. We actually used propane lights most of the time. This also meant that we almost always used a butane curling iron.  Do you even know what that is?  Maybe I should offer free cookies to anyone who knows what that is without googling it ...Wait - that might be a lot of cookies.  Free cookies to anyone who has actually had to use a butane curling iron...

So, sometimes my mom set me up with a cookie stand. Yep, me selling chocolate chip cookies. I sold them for 25 cents a piece. I don't think that it was even enough to cover the cost of the ingredients. But, apparently my mom didn't mind eating that cost.  It kept me busy - baking cookies and selling them on my little folding card table in our gravel driveway.

Conveniently, our house was located on the main hill for entering or leaving The Northwoods. Lots and lots of car and foot traffic on that gravel road. (I can still hear my dad's voice yelling "Slow Down!" to the cars speeding by.) I remember when women walking by would buy one cookie and be back about 30 seconds later after eating this amazing piece of chocolate chip goodness. They'd be wondering if I could bake them an entire batch of cookies.  Almost always they were expecting house guests and wanted to pass the cookies off as their own.

Since those days I've baked so many batches of these cookies. I guess those summers of baking batch after batch of cookies really perfected my craft.  People love them. When they have babies and I bring them a dinner they ask if I could please include those cookies. I've had friends come watch me make them and take notes.

So - at the request of Lauren E, Shanna C and other numerous friends over the years, here it is. This is how I make my chocolate chip cookies. Step-by-step instructions, brand names and all. (*I am a brand snob. I swear it makes a difference in how they taste. You can use generics if you want, but I am telling you brand names because so many gals have wanted to know exactly what I use.*)  I finally have a place to give all of you the recipe at the same time, and you can come back here again and again to get it. I can't guarantee that they will turn out the same. It might be a unique gift of the Holy Spirit that has been bestowed upon me (haha). But - I'm willing to spill the goods. Right here.

Now, you may disagree with some of my methods.  I'm not saying I've got the corner on chocolate chip cookie baking. I mean, Mrs. Field's makes a mean cookie, too. I'm just saying that certain people like the way these turn out. There might be a slight obsession by some. (not naming names. you know who you are). And, they want to know how to make that cookie. They are not vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free or lowfat.  But they are crazy delish.

1 cup Crisco shortening. I do not use butter flavor Crisco. I use the one with the blue label. And, I use the sticks. I do not measure it out of the tub. That is messy and greasy. (Yes, I know lard is so bad for you. Don't start m'kay? I know that butter is a better choice.)
1 cup C&H golden brown sugar. Not dark brown.
1/2 cup C&H granulated white sugar
1 tsp Arm & Hammer baking soda. By the way, using fresh baking soda makes a difference.
1 tsp Morton's table salt.
2 tsp vanilla. Use pure vanilla extract. The Kirkland kind is awesome. Just please please don't use imitation vanilla unless you really have to.
2 Large Grade A eggs. It doesn't seem to matter what color, organic, cage free, or any of that.
2 1/4 cups Gold Medal All-Purpose Unbleached Flour. The bleached kind actually works great too.
1 12 oz. package (or 2 cups) of Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Yes. Use the entire package. Do not skimp on the chocolate.

Eric actually likes my cookies better made with unsalted butter, C&H dark brown sugar, and Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips instead. So, that is how I make them for him. (The things we do for love). However, they are not the same as the cookie you all have come to love.

Are you ready?? Here we go!!

Pull out your two eggs from the fridge to bring them to room temperature.

Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. I put my baking rack on the next to highest rack. Now, I want to show this picture to help you all out. But, please only look at this picture if you promise to not judge me for the (un)cleanliness of my oven:

Mix the Crisco, brown sugar and white sugar together either in a Kitchen Aid or with a wooden spoon.

I love this attachment by New Metro for the Kitchen-Aid. It is wide enough that it scrapes the bottom and the sides of your bowl while it mixes. No more scraping with a spatula. Brilliant.

Now, take your bowl off of the Kitchen-Aid and start mixing with a wooden spoon from now on. I promise, it makes a huge difference. Use those biceps, ladies. Swimsuit season will be here before you know it. And, stirring with a wooden spoon obviously counteracts the calories consumed when eating these cookies.

Add the salt, baking soda and vanilla and stir with your wooden spoon. Make sure that your teaspoons of salt and baking soda are level.  You want them perfectly full, NOT heaping!

Add in the two eggs.

Mix in the flour. When you measure the flour make it a level cupful. Again, NOT heaping and not only partially full. Eliza's little hands will demonstrate how to do this.

Mix in the chocolate chips.

Scoop dough in heaping teaspoonfuls. I use a cereal spoon and scoop with that. This is the largest size Silpat, to give you an idea of size. I can fit 16 cookies. The most important thing is to make them equal size, whatever size that might be.

Also - I don't think that the Silpat makes a huge difference (maybe no difference) in cookie quality. I like them because you can throw them in the dishwasher and they clean up so easily. But, I've been making these cookies for years, long before the Silpat was introduced and my cookies have always been the same.

The three cookies in the bottom left hand corner were made by my oldest kiddo. He likes to roll them into balls. I don't suggest this!

Now, your cooking time will vary depending on your oven. Generally, it takes between 8 and 10 minutes. DO NOT overbake your cookies. They should still look undercooked when you take them out. They will keep cooking for a few minutes after you take them out of the oven. It will just take some experimenting for you to figure out about how long the ideal bake time if for your oven.

Well, now I've given away my best-kept secret. My most treasured recipe. I guess I'll find out who my real friends are when you all quit needing me to make cookies for you. Who only loved me for my cookies?  Ha! Happy Baking!!


Leeper said...

note - Shorting (Crisco) isn't Lard. Shorting is a vegetable oil based product where lard is pure pork goodness. Depending on who you believe lard has similar health traits to butter as both are an animal based product.

Jocelyn said...

Thanks Mike. You are a never-ending source of food trivia.

Shanna said...

Thanks Joce! But I have to say that it is a Holy Spirit gift to you and even when I follow your directions mine are not the same. I will forever need you for your cookies =)

Keri Paluska said...

What an awesome post!! I'll have to try and make them someday. Thanks for sharing such a special memory :) Smiles ~Keri

DW Cole said...

Making them now! Cant wait to try them...and I will always need you, even if you loose all of your baking abilities!!