Friday, February 17, 2006

The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies a.k.a. Magic Urban Legend Cookies

I’ve stopped counting the compliments I get from these cookies, but according to my kids, they’ve earned me a place on the roster of good mothers for the rest of my natural life. For the magic part, put down a plate of them at the next school party, turn your back for a minute, and they’ll all disappear!

Cream together:

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar


1 egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (sometimes I make it 1 teaspoon and it’s good!)

Mix together in a separate bowl, then add about half to wet ingredients. Mix on low speed until mostly blended than add the rest and fold in by hand for a more tender cookie.

1 cup flour
1 1/4 cups oatmeal ground to flour in a food processor or blender
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Stir in:

1 cup chocolate chips or M&Ms (kids love holiday theme colors)
2 oz Hershey bar, grated on the large holes of a box grater
3/4 cup chopped nuts (if your kids will let you—mine don’t)

Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for about 9-10 minutes. Cookies should be slightly soft; they firm up as they cool and even then they are best chewy rather than crisp.

This recipe makes 30 cookies or enough to take for a party and to keep a few for the family to sample, just to make sure they taste okay. You can easily double or quadruple it. The cookies are absolutely fabulous a few minutes out of the oven, excellent later that day, and really, really good the next day, but they start to go downhill by the second day--—if they last that long.

I got this recipe from a friend from my college days, on what was clearly a tenth generation Xerox copy. On the top of the page, we’re told that someone who works with “Jean’s mother at the American Bar Association” called Mrs. Field’s Cookies and asked for their recipe. They said, sure, it’s two-fifty, we’ll charge it to our credit card. The lady agreed, thinking it was $2.50, but of course when she got her bill it was a whopping $250. To get back at the chiselers, she’s sharing the recipe with everyone she knows.

Of course, a similar type of story has been circulating since the late nineteenth century when the Waldorf Hotel supposedly overcharged someone for their cake recipe—in other words this is a classic urban legend. I doubt they are lifted from Mrs. Field's. These cookies aren’t as greasy as her real chocolate chippers, in fact they’re more of a cross between Debra’s Special and chocolate chip. (Better than both imo).

While I’m on the topic of delicious kid-pleasing cookies, I have two more recipes that get many requests and compliments. The first is the grand-prize-winning Double Chocolate Chip Cookies from 101 Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, a bible for chocolate chip cookie lovers, with lots of tips and a great variety of recipes. A few years ago I made four different recipes for a taste test—a popular activity with all involved (each person takes notes and shares impressions, then afterwards you get to eat your fill of the favorites). The Double Chocolate Chips are made with cocoa and chips and they are just SO GOOD.

To really get the compliments for your artistic flair, I suggest the recipe for Half and Half Cookies from A Baker’s Field Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies, which is another fabulous resource for cookie recipes (it has an even greater variety than the above). After you mix the classic brown sugar dough, you divide it in half, add cocoa to one and a bit more flour to the other, fold in white chocolate chips to the first and semi-sweet to the later, form each into small balls and squish them together. I mold the balls into commas and form yin-yang shapes (the line between the two doughs usually gets wiggly anyway and this makes it less noticeable and more New Age). I also love the Amaretto Almond White Chocolate Squares and the Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Brownies with Coconut Pecan Frosting, which is just like German Chocolate Cake, but more accessible somehow.

So preheat the oven, brings those eggs to room temperature first, and get a big, cold glass of milk ready for the feast!

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