Yummm! A warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie dunked in ice-cold milk hits the spot. Or how about a couple of big chocolaty cookies tucked into a school lunch bag? Or a plate piled high with cookies during a sleepover party?
Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies!
Chocolate chip cookies are sold packaged, “freshly baked” at bakeries and delis, and as tubes of uncooked dough ready for the oven. While these offerings satisfy many a craving, there is no denying that homemade is best!
Making the cookies is easy and often is one of the earliest baking lessons kids have. Moms, dads, grandmothers, and big brothers and sisters have been passing down their cookie-making skills since the chocolate chip cookie was invented in the 1930s.
A Morsel of Cookie History
The most famous chocolate chip cookie is the Toll House Cookie, so named for the Massachusetts’ inn of the same name. It was there in 1930 that innkeeper Ruth Wakefield first added a chopped-up Nestlé’s Semisweet Chocolate bar to cookie dough.
It wasn’t long before Ruth’s cookies were the talk of the town. When the Nestlé company heard about it, they started producing their famous little semisweet morsels, which were mass produced by 1939. Ruth’s recipe was printed on the back of the bright yellow package, where it remains to this day.
Is Ruth Wakefield’s recipe the best there is? It’s a great recipe, no doubt about it. Home cooks and bakery owners have varied it a little over the years to create their own cookies, but the Toll House Cookie recipe is a good place to start. Many cookie lovers think it’s never been topped.
Making Cookies at Home
You won’t go wrong with any of the recipes we list with this article. You can also use the recipe on the back of the package of Nestlé’s Semisweet Chocolate Morsels.
Kids should be encouraged to read the recipe all the way through and then assemble the ingredients and equipment needed. This is always a good idea – they won’t get to a place in the cooking process and realize they don’t have what they need.
Because the butter or margarine should be softened and the eggs should be at room temperature, set these out on the kitchen counter at least an hour before beginning. They mix better when the temperatures are correct.
Measure the sugars and flour with measuring cups designed for dry ingredients. These are the kind that nest and which you fill to the rim and sweep off the excess with the back of a kitchen knife. This makes measuring accurate.
Put the flour in a shallow bowl, add the salt and baking soda and use a wire whisk to mix these together. This is far easier than sifting and equally effective.
If you have a standing mixer with a choice of beaters, use the paddle attachment (not the whisk) to cream the butter and sugars and then mix in the flour. Stir the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) into the dough by hand.
Don’t forget to preheat the oven and to prep the baking sheets. Even with nonstick baking sheets, it’s a good idea to rub them lightly with butter or margarine or spray them with baking spray.
Finally, when the cookes are baked, let them rest on the baking sheets for 2 to 3 minutes to set just enough so that they are easy to remove. Transfer them to wire cooling racks and let them cool completely (or for as long as you can stand before grabbing one!).
Baking a delicious batch of chocolate chip cookies is not hard and kids will be proud of their accomplishment. Here are a few tips to ensure sweet success.
- Use large eggs (unless the recipe calls for extra-large)
- Use real vanilla extract
- Use all-purpose flour and spoon it into the measuring cup
- Pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup
- Do not overmix the dough
- Chill the dough once it’s made (not absolutely necessary but it helps)
- Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer
- Use a small scoop to drop the cookies on the baking sheet
- Leave enough space between the cookies
- Let the baking sheets cool between batches (otherwise the cookie’s edges might burn and the cookies might be flat)
Beyond Chocolate Chips
Once the kids master this recipe and feel comfortable with it, they might want to experiment to make variations on the classic cookie. This is a perfect dough for such creativity.
The standard recipe for Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies calls for chopped nuts. These usually are walnuts or pecans and are totally optional. If the kids don’t like nuts (and most don’t) or in case of allergies, leave them out! The cookies are great without them.
The chocolate chip cookie dough is forgiving and versatile. Add big chunks of chopped chocolate bars in place of the morsels; add raisins, dried cherries, or dried blueberries; replace some or all of the chocolate morsels with peanut butter or butterscotch chips; sprinkle a little cinnamon in the dough.
Stir old-fashioned rolled oats into the dough. Chop them in a blender before adding them to the dough for a smoother texture. Add some peanut butter to the batter (replace some of the butter with it) for peanutty cookies.
Anyway they make them, everybody will be happy the kids learned to bake chocolate chip cookies. And no one will be more pleased than the young bakers themselves!