One of the first things I learned to make from scratch were chocolate chip cookies. Not only are they almost foolproof, but really, who doesn’t like fresh-from-the-oven chocolate chip cookies? As I got older, my Mum taught me not only the recipe (which, to this day, I have memorized by heart) but the two secrets to perfect, chewy chocolate chip cookies. So before I get to actual recipe, here are two family “secrets” to making perfect cookies every time. But shhhh, it’s a secret!
The “Secrets” to the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
1. Shortening: Yes, you can substitute butter but no, I DO NOT recommend it. The thing about butter is it melts. Get too much of it in your cookies, and they kind of start melting too. You know, the kind of cookies that get really thin at the edges so that the edges burn but the middle is still raw? 9 times out of 10 it’s too much butter. Shortening, on the other hand, holds up much better in the oven, and keeps the cookies thick and beautifully dome-shaped.
2. Under baking: We’re not talking grossly under baking but juuuuust a smidge. By under baking them and allowing them to sit an extra 5 minutes on the baking sheet, they can get that perfect light brown color, bake all the way through, yet still be delightfully chewy in the center. The trick, then, is to bake them just until they’re no longer shiny on the top, remove from the oven, and let them cool on the baking sheet. Ta da! Perfectly golden cookies!
The (Not So) Secret Family Recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields about 25 cookies
1 cup vegetable shortening (like Crisco)
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup chocolate chips (give or take)
Start by preheating your oven to 350* Fahrenheit (175* Celsius). In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Mix well, particularly so that there are no little lumps of brown sugar. Add the baking soda, vanilla extract, and eggs, and mix until everything is well incorporated. One cup at a time, add the flour, mixing between each new addition. The dough should be slightly sticky, but should still easily pull away from your skin when trying to roll it. If it feels too sticky, add a little extra flour. Finally add the chocolate chips in whatever the desired amount may be (personally, a cup is more than enough for me) and mix one last time.
Mmmm I could eat it just like this!
Roll the dough into approximately one inch balls, or simply drop it on the baking sheet using spoons. Personally I like to roll mine, that way I can freeze it for another day, but more on that later. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, or until the top is no longer shiny, and let them rest on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes to finish baking all the way through.
Don’t worry, these are going in the freezer, not the oven
Now, for those of you that don’t plan on using all 25 cookies at once, you have two choices: refrigeration or freezing. For the longest time, I just set my entire bowl of dough in the refrigerator. It doesn’t last very long that way, but it was there if we had guests over at a moments notice. But once I discovered I could roll and freeze it, it took my domestic efficiency to a whole new level! Not only can I now decide exactly how many cookies to whip up at the drop of a hat, but the dish requirement is minimal, there’s very little additional baking time, and surprise guests? No problem! If you want to freeze your left over cookie dough, I suggest forming the balls of cookie dough and freezing them on a baking sheet before removing them to a container for storage. There’s no need to defrost them before baking, but keep in mind that they’re take about an additional 5 minutes.
Warm cookies and milk? Yes please!