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.

Cookies lead to dinner and dessert

The last day of school for Calvin is this week, with all the end-of-the-year craziness of awards ceremonies, orchestra concerts, tests, locker clean-outs and field trips. We wanted to give his teachers something to say thank you for a great first year of middle school, but weren’t sure what. We finally decided on homemade chocolate chip cookies.

The baking session started out with just one project, which quickly snowballed into many more. Calvin and I started making the cookie dough (project #1), and Rich ran to the store to get sweet potatoes (project #2) to have with dinner and half and half to make ice cream to have with chocolate pudding cake for dessert (projects #3 and #4).

By the time Rich got home, we had the first cookies in the oven and Calvin was making tags for the cookie bags. While the second round of cookies were in the oven, I stirred up cinnamon ice cream and Rich got the ice cream maker ready to go in the office/third bedroom because it is kind of loud and annoying when it is running. Plus the kitchen was hot from the oven. Everyone makes ice cream in a bedroom, right?

When the cookies were baked and cooling on the dining room table, we put the sweet potatoes in the oven and Rich started grating the cheese for the four cheese mac and cheese we were having for dinner (project #5). The ice cream finished and went in the basement deep freeze to freeze and firm up (hopefully) in time for dessert. Rich finished the cheese, and washed the mountain of dishes we had made already. I measured out the ingredients for chocolate pudding cake to go with the ice cream. It is the perfect recipe to mix up and slip into the oven as you are taking dinner out. It bakes and cools just in time for you to have warm dessert later in the evening.

Rich went off to help Calvin with something and I dried and put away all the dishes he had just washed. I then realized that if we wanted to eat anytime close to a normal dinner hour, I should start making the mac and cheese. With all the rest of the mess from projects #1-3 almost totally cleaned up, I made the cheese sauce and read a book while I stirred the pot. Once I had dinner in the oven, Calvin and I had time to package the cookies for him to take to school, which cleared off the table in time for dinner.

Dinner came out of the oven, cake went in and we were ready to sit down. We topped off our cooking frenzy with a walk around the neighborhood to make room for dessert, and then dug into our still warm cake and perfectly frozen ice cream.

Teacher gifts, dinner and a two-part dessert in three hours’ kitchen time – that’s how we roll around here!