22 February 2008

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies.
If they claim otherwise they're either lying or peculiar. I have probably made hundreds of batches in my lifetime, spilling pounds of flour in the process, and devouring mounds of dough. There is nothing that brings out the inner child like witnessing the mysterious alchemy of the oven as greasy dough balls grow and puff in to soft, moist, gooey cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies, like so many kitchen miracles, were discovered by accident. Ruth Wakefield, proprietor of the Toll House Inn, ran out of baker's chocolate one day while making cookies in the early 1930s. She improvised by chopping up a Nestlè semisweet chocolate bar, expecting it to melt completely and incorporate with the dough, but instead it only softened, and those gooey little chocolate pockets remained intact. The chocolate chip cookie was born, and was an instant success. When Nestlè saw it's sales of semisweet chocolate jumped as the recipe spread, they struck a deal with Ruth Wakefield: a lifetime supply of Nestlè chocolate in exchange for the rights to print her recipe on their packaging. In 1939, "Nestlé Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels" were born, and the rest is history.
In my ever-growing cravings for truly American treats, I have used my Italian kitchen to import all sorts of traditional foods from apple pie to oatmeal, popcorn to pancakes, brownies to barbecue sauce. I have no idea why it never occurred to me to make chocolate chip cookies. It's as if they were too American, too home-like, too genuine to take out of their natural habitat. I didn't even miss them, it's as if they never existed. Yesterday, however, I stumbled upon the history of chocolate chip cookies on the internet and was overcome with an undeniable urge to make them, not just to eat them, but to actually bake them. I wanted the sticky fingers and the flour-dusted counter top, the aroma of the oven, and obviously the sweet, hot reward.
I went to the grocery store and was foolishly surprised not to find chocolate chips. I bought a dark chocolate bar, and made them the Ruth Wakefield way, trying to picture the kitchen of the Toll House Inn in the 1930s, and thanking the lord for the necessity that mothered this exquisite invention.

Original Toll House Inn Chocolate Chip Cookies:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 lg eggs
1 3/4 - 2 cups chocolate chips (semi sweet)
1 cup nuts (optional)

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
1. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl.
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
6. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown.

No comments: