Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

After raising the bar with a rather complicated recipe last week, I thought I’d keep things simple during the week in which we stare Christmas in the face. While the glut of Christmas treats and star-shaped sugar cookies is wonderful, there’s something so classically comforting about chocolate cookies and a glass of milk on a chilly winter night.

I’ll take it one step further, though, and say that chocolate chip cookies from scratch are really something special. Why? Well, there’s that great feeling of knowing (and recognizing!) every ingredient that has gone into your food. There actually isn’t a very large ingredient list for these guys, and it’s nice to watch a few simple ingredients come together. Not to mention that they’re delicious. And finally, you get to strut about telling people that you made these cookies with your bare hands.

Chocolate chip cookies are considered a “drop cookie;” they don’t need to be rolled and cut with cookie cutters. Rather, you just plop a spoonful of dough on a cookie sheet and it rounds itself out into a nicely shaped cookie. In other words, less work!

According to Joy of Cooking, this tried-and-true recipe dates back to 1943 (to quote Eddie Izzard: “Surely not! No one was alive then!”). Don’t be like me and neglect to soften the butter ahead of time. You have two options here, by the way. You can add nuts at the appropriate time, and you can swap out the brown sugar for regular sugar to get crispy cookies rather than soft. So, you know, don’t say I didn’t get you anything for Christmas.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease or line 2 cookie sheets.
Whisk together:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda

Beat in another bowl until well blended:
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar (1 cup for crunchy cookies)
½ cup packed light brown sugar (omit for crunchy cookies)

Add and beat until well combined:
1 large egg
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
Stir in the flour mixture until well blended and smooth.
Stir in:
1 cup chocolate chips
(¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans ““ optional)
Drop the dough by heaping spoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto the cookie sheets. Bake 1 sheet at a time until the cookies are just slightly colored on top and the edges are brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Let stand briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

Image: Getty

One thought on “Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies”

  1. I once baked 400 cookies for an event at my work place and here’s what I learned:

    For a soft cookie that doesn’t fall apart: After spooning the dough onto the baking sheets, put the sheets in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

    If you like crispy cookies, add slightly more butter to your recipe.

    Also, if you live in a humid area (like south Louisiana), then sifting all dry ingredients is a good idea.

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