I wish I could remember the first time I ate a homemade chocolate chip cookie because I feel like my life since that moment has been an endless, fruitless (though chocolate-filled and therefore often delicious) effort to bake the perfect one. Yes, I realize that I ate my first chocolate chip cookie as a child, and for me at a young age, “effort to bake the perfect one” usually just meant baking variations of the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse Morsels bag.
Variations, you ask?
Oh, you know.
Semi-sweet vs. milk.
Softened butter vs. melted butter.
Light brown sugar vs. dark brown sugar.
Nuts vs. no nuts.
And my favorite . . . adding oatmeal.
As a grown-up person, I’ve gotten better and more adventurous with my baking. I still follow other people’s recipes. When it comes to stuff that I and my loved ones and I are going to eat, I’m not one for the road less traveled, not when it’s made by me, anyway. Being a follower is not a terrible thing some of the time. I’m getting away from my point. Anyway. As I was saying, I like recipes, though I use them more as a general guide rather than a strict set of rules.
Still, all that said, I’d never varied too much beyond what’s listed above, when it came to chocolate chip cookies. The standard recipe is easy, and there’s chocolate so even when they’re bad, they’re good. But realizing that I’ve passed on my chocolate chip cookie addiction on to my daughter, it occurred to me that if she is going to love the chocolate chip cookie as much as I do, I’d like for her to believe that the cookies we make at home are better than anyone else’s. I mean, whenever she wants to have a really awesome cookie, I want her to say, “Mommy, let’s bake!” instead of, “Mommy, let’s go to the store and buy cookies!”
So with that in mind, I’ve looked at recipes here and there that were a step above the old standard, but not so complicated that my 2-year-old couldn’t help me (or that I couldn’t keep an eye on her while in the thick of it because she got bored and decided to go color on the table in the dining room—it happens). Ideally, the ingredients would all be stuff I keep at home on a regular basis, and they’d bake soft.
(Fair warning if you follow the link to the recipe: There are so many pictures of delicious gooey cookies before you get to the actual recipe that you will be convinced you have to make them right then when you finally do.)
One of the things that makes the cookies soft is that the recipe replaces some of the butter (softened) with cream cheese (also softened). You can’t actually taste the cream cheese, but the resulting batter is much thicker and stickier than for cookies I’ve made in the past. Instead of chocolate chips and chunks, as suggested, I only used chips.
The recipe also calls for refrigerating the dough for two hours (or up to five days!) before baking. I never do this when I follow cookie recipes. I’ve been told that cookies baked at just the right temperature are all the tastier for it, but who has the time or patience for that? Not me. In this case, I put the dough in the fridge while my daughter sat on the potty for 20 minutes before scooping onto the baking mat. Don’t know if it made a difference. The resulting cookies were delicious either way. Very soft and very tasty. I took some to a friend’s house who had us over for dinner and her kindergardener confirmed that they were very good indeed. I highly recommend this one.