Last Days, First Days and Chocolate Chip Cookies

IMG_4380Yesterday was Calvin’s last day of school, so today is the first day of summer for us. To most people, summer starts Memorial Day weekend, so we get a one-day jump on it. Summer means no alarms (at least for Calvin), lots of reading and lots of playing in the kitchen, of course.

We usually give homemade gifts to Calvin’s teachers at the end of the school year. Last year we gave each teacher a stack of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Calvin decided he wanted to do the same thing this year. And he wanted to make the cookies himself. Of course we waited until the last couple days of school to do this and time was working against us. Calvin had time to make the dough Tuesday evening and I baked them the next day, while he was at school.

Note to self: make sure the kid can read your notes in the family cookbook if he is working by himself. The cookies were a little flat because Calvin couldn’t decipher my scribbles that indicated the dough needed extra flour. But they tasted as fabulous as they always do, so to school they went. Calvin reported compliments all around, so they were a success.

All the cookies went to school, and I forgot to take pictures of their crisp, buttery flatness. You will have to imagine the above cookies a little flatter and darker brown. If you make them as written, they will look like the pictures. If you only use two cups of flour, they will be flat and crispy. I understand there are actually people who prefer them that way. I have even met a few of them, and they seem perfectly normal. Can you tell I am in the tall, soft cookie camp?

No matter how you like them, chocolate chip cookies are always a hit no matter where you take them. If you are short on time, press the dough in a sheet pan and make cookie bars. Pick up a few bags of chocolate chips the next time you are at the grocery store. Summer is here and you never know when you will need a quick dessert for a spur of the moment backyard barbecue, or teacher gifts, if school isn’t out already for you.

Download or print the recipe here.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Nestle Tollhouse Cookies by The Cook’s Life
4-6 dozen, depending on size

You can use all-purpose flour in place of the white whole wheat, but it adds a nuttiness to the cookies. Everyone who tries them will wonder what your secret ingredient is.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup white whole wheat flour*
1½ cups, plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1½ cups chocolate chips, semisweet or 60% dark

*White whole wheat flour can be found in the baking aisle, next to the other flours. Store any unused flour in a zip-top bag in the freezer to keep it fresh for up to a year.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter, sugars and vanilla at medium high speed of a mixer until well-combined and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until fluffy again. Add white whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking soda and salt and beat at low speed until mixed. Stir in chocolate chips.

Scoop dough onto ungreased cookie sheets by teaspoon, tablespoon or 2 tablespoons. Flatten larger cookies slightly before baking. Bake 7-8 minutes for smaller cookies, 9-11 minutes for medium and 11-13 minutes for larger cookies. Remove cookies from oven when they are lightly browned, but still slightly soft in the middle. Let cool on sheets for a few minutes and then remove to racks to cool.

Chocolate Chip Doodles

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I am on a cookie roll these days. If you aren’t into cookies, don’t despair, I will get back to more varied posts after the holiday craziness. We have been concentrating on the baking and holiday preparations for the last few weeks, so there has been precious little experimentation going on in the kitchen.

Chocolate chip doodles are some of my first memories of cookies. My mother first made them with carob chips, as she didn’t eat chocolate for a lot of my early childhood, and I didn’t like it. She used carob as a chocolate substitute often. These cookies really are my favorite when made with carob chips, but they are pretty darn good made with chocolate chips too. Think a snickerdoodle made with brown sugar and chocolate chips, but with a cakier texture. They are some of our favorite cookies, yet we tend to make them only at Christmas time. No idea why. I am vowing to change that this year, when we are ready to make cookies again after our holiday indulgences.

I love the added touch of rolling the cookie dough balls in a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon. When I was young, Mom used to put the leftover topping on our buttered toast at breakfast the next day. Tastes of childhood.

What are some of your favorite early food memories?

Download or print the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Doodles
From The Cook’s Life
Makes 7-9 dozen cookies

You can make these with 2 cups carob chips instead of chocolate chips, for a whole different cookie. I prefer them this way, but carob can be an acquired taste.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Topping:
½ cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Beat butter and brown sugar together until well mixed. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until light and fluffy. Add flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Chill dough for at least an hour for easier handling. If you chill for more than an hour, let the dough rest on counter for a few minutes to soften just a bit before trying to work with it.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix topping ingredients together in a medium bowl. Line baking sheets with parchment for easy cleanup. No need to grease them if not using parchment.

Roll dough into small balls about ¾-inch in diameter. I use a 2-teaspoon cookie scoop to make the balls. You can make the cookies larger if you like. Dip the top two-thirds of each ball in the topping mixture and place sugar side up on baking sheets. You may have to “fluff” the sugar mixture with your fingers every so often – it tends to compact after a few dips.

Bake cookies 7-10 minutes, depending on size. Cookies will puff up and then flatten as they bake. Try to take them out before they flatten totally, but while they are still a bit puffy. They will look slightly underdone, but not totally raw – let them cool on the pans for a few minutes to finish baking. Be sure not to over bake or the cookies won’t be soft and chewy. Move cookies to a rack to finish cooling.

Store cookies in an airtight container for several days, or freeze for longer storage.