Searching for the perfect chocolate chip cookie seems to be a culinary “Holy Grail”. I’m not sure if such a thing even exists, since it is really a matter of preference. I’ve tried many recipes over the years, starting with the quintessential “Toll House Recipe”.
A few years ago, I came across my favorite recipe in a 1980’s version of Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. That recipe has proven to be a reliable standard that people always love. I’m not sure why it’s so good. It may be the half butter – half shortening that gives the cookies a moist, yet buttery taste and texture. It may be the salt and baking soda that offset the sweetness with a little savory. It may be the extra vanilla that rounds out the flavor. I’m not really sure, but I often get asked for the recipe and people clamor for the cookies when I make them.
I have found that freezing the dough in individual portions helps create a better consistency when baking. When baked soon after mixing, they are great tasting, but sometimes spread too much. When I make the dough ahead of time, I can freeze individual cookie balls and then bake from frozen. It takes longer to bake, but that is the only downside. One of the benefits is that you can bake as many as you want, leaving some in the freezer for when a cookie craving hits.
I also love the convenience of using a scoop or disher to make perfect little dough balls. I am a gadget geek, but this is one of my favorites. In fact, I currently have four in varying sizes. Parchment paper is also a must in my kitchen. I used to buy the rolls until I found I could buy half sheets that fit my Vollrath cookie sheets perfectly. I bought both the parchment sheets and cookie sheets at Surfas Online, a restaurant supply store in Los Angeles.
The recipe in the current Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook differs slightly, so I’ll post the “retro” version here. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) of all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (1 stick) softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup of vegetable shortening
- 1 cup (7 oz) of brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) of granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. Cream together butter and shortening with an electric mixer until well combined. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until well combined. Stir in flour mixture until well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Drop by spoonfuls onto cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking racks.
Freeze Now, Bake Later
You can also make the cookie dough ahead of time and freeze in individual portions. I like to use a cookie scoop to make nice round cookies. It also speeds things up quite a bit if you bake often.
Scoop out dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper.
Put cookies in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.
When they are frozen, you can put the frozen cookie dough balls in a zip lock bag and keep in the freezer until you are ready to bake. You can bake as many as you want and save the rest for later.
You will need to adjust the baking time when baking frozen cookie dough. I find that 14 minutes works well in my oven, but check ahead of time. Keep the temperature to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. If you bake two sheets of cookies at once, swap out the cookie sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through. They will bake more evenly that way.