Despite my own love of kitchen time, I do not believe that every women should have to be a master chef. I mean, we leave in a magical age where food can arrive at your door. And not just pizza- everything. For two people who grew up in the country, outside the traditional delivery radius, James and I never cease to be amazed by this amazing perk of city existence. And yes, you can usually make healthier food at home… but not always. Plus, cooking takes time. I love that time, but I’m not about to force it on someone who has no time and just decides that this is one battle not worth fighting. But there are two things that every women (Or head of house, if that be a man, you can insert him for all uses of woman here. I tend to assume that my constituency is pretty pretty heavy on the high heels and scrunchies.) needs to master: a covered meal you can take to someone in need, and chocolate chip cookies. Both of these are hospitality staples, things that you role out to tell people you matter in my life.
These are my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. She usually has a container of them frozen somewhere, ready to roll out when the troops roll in. They are the cookies that greeted me on the first day of school, the cookies that I remember making next to her when I still had to climb on a chair to reach the counter. They are the ones she sent me at college, the ones that I took James when we were dating, the ones that always taste like home. They are the cookies that are chocolate cookies to me.
And they are absolutely, totally, ordinary. They have no nuts, no berries, no brown-butter or special toppings. I say best because I love them best, not because they actually are the best. They won’t surprise you, thrill you, or win any sort of culinary honor. But I would argue that that isn’t the point of chocolate chip cookies. These cookies will comfort you. They will disappear from the plate that you plunk down in the middle of game night or after dinner so fast that people will barely remember to comment on them. But later, when they leave, they will remember that they had been loved. That is what a chocolate chip cookie is supposed to do.
I keep a bag of frozen dough balls on hand so that I can always have fresh baked cookies for the people who pass through our home. There have been a lot of those lately, some special visitors, but others are regular faces around our table and I love having these cookies on hand. I Instagramed a stack of them lately and had some friends ask for the recipe and I am excited to share it today. It is not terribly different from any cookie recipe, including the standard back-of-the-bag Tollhouse one (classic), other than the addition of cream of tartar and the adjusted baking time. I have flirted with other cookie recipes lately, tried them out and found them good. But you always come back to your cookies.
And these are mine, the recipe my mother drilled into me adjusted slightly to reflect my own preference for brown sugar. I debated sharing “our” recipe, but I don’t really believe in unlimited secret recipes. You can, and perhaps should, have a couple – tops. After that, it’s important to remember the point of food, and that is building community. Letting someone recreate the joy they felt in your kitchen in their own is such a gift.
So if you don’t have a chocolate chip cookie recipe that is your own, the one that you go to, trust in, and are proud of, may I invite you to take this one.
The Best Ordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies
-1.5 cups brown sugar
-.5 cup white sugar
-.5 cup oil
-1 cup butter ( I use salted)
-2 tsp vanilla
Beat until smooth. In theory, you should do the butter and sugars first and then add in the other stuff but I don’t think it makes much difference. Plus it makes more dishes and I am super opposed to any separate mixing.
Whisk together and add:
-4 cups flour (throw in a little extra if it seems to sticky at the end — it should be more like dough and less like brownie batter. I often end up using 5 cups total.)
-2 tsp baking soda
-4 tsp cream of tartar
-1 tsp salt
Once again, in theory this should be mixed first and added in batches… but that means more dishes. So I usually just dump in half the flour and the rest of the white stuff, stir, add rest of flour. Throw the chocolate chips in with the last flour addition — for some reason that I do not understand this makes them better than adding them on their own.
Form dough into balls and bake on ungreased (I line with parchment bc I’m lazy and hate dishes) cookie sheets at 350 for 10-11 minutes. THEN TAKE THEM OUT OF THE OVEN AND DO NOT TOUCH THEM FOR AT LEAST 10 MINUTES. DO NOT OVER BAKE THEM, EVEN THOUGH THEY WILL BE SUPER DOUGHY AND NOT COOKED. This is the real key. The hot cookie sheet finishes cooking them while keeping them fluffy soft.
Add 1-2 minutes baking time if you start from frozen dough.