Here’s a short post about America’s favorite cookie.
I love to cook, to bake, and to eat. I like to improve on recipes, to make them my own. Like all cooks, I have strong opinions about the right way, the best way, to prepare any given food. Baking is more of a science than cooking, but still after testing and tasting I have written my own recipes for rum cake, biscuits, gingerbread, and more. I have tested more chocolate chip cookie recipes than I could count on two hands.
Normally I am a purist, not in terms of following a recipe, but in terms of using as natural and organic a product as possible. There were a few times in my sons’ elementary school years when I used instant vanilla pudding in my chocolate chip cookies; it created a beautifully chewy cookie, but there was an undeniable chemical undertone. My favorite recipe to date has been Alton Brown’s The Chewy, as modified by The Brown-Eyed Baker (hey, I’m a brown-eyed baker, too!): The Chewy
My friend and coworker Cindy makes the best chocolate chip cookies any of us have ever had. They are fat, pale, chewy, and delicious. They call for margarine instead of butter, and for a long time I refused to believe that margarine could possibly do anything that butter couldn’t. I am, after all, a butter whore. I stopped buying margarine years ago. But time and time again I tried Cindy’s recipe and failed to create the same perfection in a cookie. Until today.
Today I followed Cindy’s recipe almost to the letter, and they are almost perfect. The one flaw is that I used coarse sea salt instead of regular table salt, and so the cookies have a little salty crunch to them. Maybe that’s not a flaw? I do love salty and sweet together.
Here’s the recipe, and I recommend following it as written.
Cindy’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 sticks Land O’ Lakes margarine. Not butter or any other brand
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 eggs
- 2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°. Melt margarine in a large bowl. Mix in sugars, then beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour, salt, and soda, and mix until just combined. Stir in chips.
Cover two cookie sheets with parchment or nonstick foil. Scoop tablespoons of dough onto prepared sheets, two inches apart. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until just barely browning at the edges. Remove from oven, cool on parchment for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.
Makes about 3 dozen.
UPDATE: I rejiggered the recipe using butter, and it worked! Use less, I don’t know the chemistry of why that works, but it does: 1.5 sticks of unsalted butter, instead of the 2 sticks of margarine. Proceed as written.