CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE QUEST

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My grandma made the best chocolate chip cookies. They were always perfectly chewy with a touch of crispness around the edges. She had a cookie jar on the counter by the back door to the kitchen that always had her chocolate chip cookies in it. It seemed no one walked out that door without grabbing a cookie, adults and kids alike. When I was little my grandma would let me help her make the cookies and as I grew older I watched her closely, trying to learn to make them the way she did. Sadly, I have not been able to replicate them nor has anyone else in my family. I’m not saying I haven’t tasted other perfectly delicious chocolate chip cookies, but just none as good as hers.

She used Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips and made a variation of their recipe – one of her variations to the recipe was Gold ‘n Soft margarine instead of butter. She always made more than one batch at a time, and she knew how much flour she needed based on the consistency of her dough. She used the empty margarine container to measure her flour (yes, empty, because she put all the margarine in the dough). Her two secrets, she said, were to not overstir the dough and to add a tablespoon of water.

For me, and I think for many people, the smell of chocolate chip cookies baking evokes an immediate feeling of comfort. I have so many wonderful childhood memories associated with my grandma’s cookies, so when I became a stepmom, I wanted to create some of those same memories for my stepchildren, thus my quest to make a chocolate chip cookie of distinction began. I created a Pinterest board titled “Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest” where I pinned and experimented with recipes from all over the Internet, none of which turned out to my satisfaction. I always went back to the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, hoping that somehow one day they would just miraculously turn out like my grandma’s. I tried not stirring too much, I tried adding a tablespoon of water, but they always came out cakey and I’m not a fan of a cakey cookie.

It wasn’t until a fateful trip to Costco that I began using a different recipe. Costco was out of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips, so I settled for the Kirkland brand and decided to try the recipe on the back of the bag for Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies. To my surprise, they were the best I’d ever made, fairly chewy with a hint of crispness around the edge – still not as good as my grandma’s but they were the closest I’d ever come. I’ve been using that recipe ever since. And, added bonus, I prefer the taste of Kirkland chocolate chips to Nestlé’s (for baking and for snacking). Though I don’t add a tablespoon of water as my grandma did, I’m very careful not to overstir as I add the flour. She always made her cookies by hand, stirring with a big wooden spoon. I did the same until a few years ago when a Kitchenaid mixer came into my life, and now there’s no turning back. I add the flour in four half-cup increments, and as I add the last one I barely let the kitchen aid stir it before I turn it off, add the chocolate chips, and do the remaining stirring with a thick spatula.

Lastly, a recent development in my cookie recipe came when I was mid-recipe and realized I didn’t have enough all-purpose flour so I subbed whole-wheat flour for the remaining portion. To my surprise, they were the chewiest, yummiest cookies I’d ever made and the family agreed! I’m still working on consistently getting that crispness around the edges and making them just a bit chewier. Any suggestions?

My son always tells me I make the best chocolate chip cookies and that I should open a cookie business. I’ll take the compliment, but I also know he was never able to taste one of my grandma’s cookies.

RECIPE UPDATE 3/29/17
I was discussing my ongoing quest to make my cookies chewier with my mom and sisters when my mom pointed out that my grandma was able to achieve her signature chewiness because she used margarine. She actually said something more like, “My cookies are better and if you want them like grandma’s you’ll have to use margarine.” Then she suggested I try melting the butter, letting it cool, and then mixing it with the sugar. I went home and gave it a try and it worked! So, for a chewier cookie, melt your butter! (I used the melt function on my microwave so the butter wouldn’t be boiling hot.) I sent my mom a text that her melted butter suggestion worked, and I was going to update my recipe and give her credit. She wrote back, “It’s about time I got credit for something.” There was a smiley face emoji too. Thanks mom!

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Chip Cookies (with many adaptations)

¾ cup (1½ sticks) butter* (For extra chewiness melt the butter and then let it cool before mixing with the sugar)
½ cup granulated sugar*
1 cup light brown sugar, packed*
2 AA large eggs*
1 tbsp. Kirkland Signature Vanilla Extract
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (I use 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat)*
2 cups Kirkland Signature Chocolate Chips
Optional - 1 cup chopped nuts**

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Combine butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium-size bowl. Blend with mixer until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly with an electric mixer on medium speed. Add baking soda and salt. Slowly add flour until thoroughly blended. Fold in chocolate chips and chopped nuts (optional) with a spatula.

Drop spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 375 degrees F for 12 minutes or until desired doneness.

*I use organic eggs, butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and flour – trust me, it makes a big difference.
**My grandma always added walnuts to half of the dough. Yummy!

P.S. If you’re looking for a healthier chocolate chip cookie recipe, try these Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies by The Bakerita. Warning! They’re quite delicious and one might convince oneself that because they’re healthier you can eat several in one sitting. I’m not saying I’ve done it, I’m just warning you – it might happen to you.