You can ask anyone who knows me – I am not a cook. Yes, I was in 4-H for 8 years for food and nutrition and learned the basics and beyond at a rather early age. I even placed at the Ohio State Fair one year. However, knowing the ins and outs is very different from being able to successfully cook a gorgeous meal, main course, sides and all. I always get these grandiose ideas from Food & Wine magazine and fly to the grocery store, spend $100 in organic kale and grass fed beef and chioggia beets and a gorgeous bottle of Syrah and the list goes on and on. I then stand in the kitchen, overwhelmed by it all, try my best to follow the recipes to the T and fail, drink half the bottle of wine out of frustration, overseason the salad, time the potatoes badly so they’re still hard when the meat is burning, and Tom comes home to a sweaty, half drunk wife surrounded by an unholy mess of $100 worth of ruined food. Fun. I just don’t like the by-the-seat-of-my-pants-ness of cooking, the speed at which it moves, the ‘pinch of this and dash of that’. Baking is EVERYTHING cooking isn’t. Measured to the ounce, methodical, slow-and-steady-wins-the-race, baking gives me the time to really perfect each step, to focus on one thing at a time, to forget about everything I’m worrying about and focus on perfectly browning the tops of whatever goodies are in the oven. It’s not great for my ass, but it’s AMAZING for my depressive, anxiety-prone brain.
Of all the things I love to bake, I always come back to chocolate chip cookies. Simple, classic, and everyone (well, almost everyone, there are a few lunatics out there) loves them, you can take them anywhere and to anyone and they’ll enjoy them. Not to mention they are one of the only sweets Tom really enjoys (he’s a salty snacker in general), and baking them always makes me feel closer to my mom, because she and I have always baked together, I learned everything I know from her, and her recipe is THE classic. Perfect. Rich and fluffy and amazing, just the right amount of crunchiness on the outside and gooiness on the inside, and nothing is easier than throwing the ingredients in the trusty old Kitchenaid, smearing it in a cookie pan and cutting up bars of the world’s most amazing cookies in no time. Her recipe is based on the good old Toll House recipe but tweaked ever-so-slightly, and her little touches have been putting these babies over the top for me and everyone who has had them since I can remember. A little extra flour to make them extra fluffy and cake-like, extra chocolate because DUH, half butter and half margarine for the perfect texture and moistness. This recipe, a closely guarded secret in my family, has finally been given the approval to be sent out into the world and improve lives everywhere, so PENCILS UP AND GET BAKING, PEOPLE. These cookies have a fan club with devotees in at least 10 states. Bake them and see.
Mama T’s Epic Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1 stick margarine, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375° F. Mix flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter and margarine until fluffy, then add granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl and thoroughly combine. Add eggs and mix well. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into greased 15 X 10 inch jelly roll pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack and cut into bars when fully cooled.
PURE BLISS. However, as my mom’s delicious bars of crack-like perfection are, I have found a recipe to rival hers. I found it via Pinterest (where else) on Ambitious Kitchen, tweaked the recipe a bit, and baked them for Tom for Valentine’s Day, braced all the while for yet another Pinterest fail. However, these cookies KILLED IT, as you can see in the photo above! They are a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS, be forewarned – from the browning of the butter to the refrigeration of the dough for TWO HOURS to the time-consuming shaping of the cookies around the ridiculously messy Nutella (yes, NUTELLA inside them) and on and on and on, these are not the jeans-and-a-tee forever perfect classic chocolate chip cookies like my mom’s. These babies are annoying – if they were clothing, they would most definetly require a strapless bra and your most obnoxious seamless thong. Yes, these are the clingy, bias-cut floor length gown of chocolate chip cookies, but DAMN. These are some SEXY FREAKIN BAKED GOODS, and while still on the surface and in their flavor a basic chocolate chip cookie, soooooooo much more. Once in a while, the hours spent getting these bitches ready and obsessing over them are worth the end result, which literally knocked my husband’s pants off. THEY ARE THAT GOOD. Make at your own risk.
Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter & Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon plain greek yogurt
- 3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
- 1 cup 85% cacao chocolate chips
- 1 jar of Nutella, chilled in refrigerator
- Coarse sea salt for sprinkling
- Slice butter into smaller pats and melt in a saucepan over medium heat. The butter will begin to form small bubbles at first, and then larger ones, until it begins to foam. Make sure you whisk consistently during this process. After a couple of minutes, the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the saucepan and its aroma will turn nutty; remove from heat as soon as this happens and immediately transfer the butter to a bowl to prevent burning. Set aside to cool.
- While the butter cools, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, vanilla, and yogurt until combined. Add the dry ingredients slowly and beat on low-speed just until combined. Do not over-mix. Gently fold in all of the chocolate chips.
- Chill your dough for 2 hours in the refrigerator.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Measure about 1 1/2 tablespoons of chilled dough and roll into a ball. Shape the dough ball into the palm of your hand into a thin bowl. Place 1 teaspoon of chilled Nutella in the middle and fold dough around it. Make sure that the Nutella is not seeping out of the dough, adding more dough if necessary. Place dough balls on cookie sheet 2 inches apart and flatten with your hand just a bit, and VERY gently, making sure to keep the Nutella inside the dough.
- Bake the cookies 9-11 minutes or until the edges of the cookies begin to turn very slightly golden brown. They will look a bit underdone, but will continue to cook once out of the oven. Cool the cookies on the sheets 2 minutes and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets very carefully after a few more minutes and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Makes two dozen cookies.
Let me know which recipe you all like better – I’m pretty sure it’ll be my mom’s, and that’s totally okay. I promise. I mean, after all, even if the dress looks ridiculously amazing, who really wants to wear a strapless bra?! And no matter what the outcome, Mama and I will always be baking besties.