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My love affair with cookies began decades ago. Didn’t yours? There’s nothing like a warm cookie from the oven to say “I love you.” And making them with kids is more than making a treat: It’s about making memories.
It’s no surprise then the United States is the No. 1 nation of cookie eaters and bakers. However, it might surprise you to learn the famous “Toll House” cookie recipe was created by accident. The story goes that Ruth Wakefield, who owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass., used to serve her guests fresh cookies at the end of their meals. Her go-to cookie was chocolate, crisp, and about the size of a quarter coin.
There are three versions of what happened that fateful evening in Massachusetts. One account is that Ruth went to get her Nestle baking bar of chocolate and realized she simply didn’t have enough. In a pinch, she broke the bar into bits and stirred it into the batter, hoping the chocolate would melt and the cookie would “make do.” Another report says she was stirring nuts into her cookies and didn’t have enough, so she broke up bits of chocolate to resemble nuts.
And still a third story says that’s not what happened at all. Instead, the box of chocolate “fell” into the bowl and,
pragmatic rather than proud, she decided to bake the cookies rather than throw out the dough. Ruth named these cookies “Butterdrop Do” cookies. My guess is the name was given for “making do” with what she had. Little did she know that folks would prefer these to her famous chocolate crisps!
Here’s a couple of interesting tidbits about chocolate bits. Ruth Wakefield “sold” her recipe to Nestle and was paid in a “lifetime” supply of chocolate. Nestle also bought the rights to the name “Toll House” cookie and the recipe is still America’s favorite.
So, I’m tempting fate by giving you a different recipe. But, hey, you can’t just have one favorite, can you? Life should be full of variety. And the secret ingredient in my cookie recipe adds a dimension we just don’t find in Ruth’s cookie. Not that I am dissin’ hers—because believe me, I’m not. But mine has something special to offer. My secret ingredient: cream cheese.
Here’s why I add the cream cheese. I pull out the majority of sugar in my cookies. And when I do that, I lose a lot of the texture we have grown to expect. But when I add cream cheese, it contributes a richness, and also a lactic sour flavor note to the cookies that marries beautifully with the butter and the semisweet chocolate. Think wine and cheese. This is chocolate and cheese. Mmmmm.
Carolyn Wyman wrote a volume called The Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book. She fills it with fun facts like: Chocolate chip cookies are among only four foods acceptable to even the pickiest of eaters. Or: People in the in the Middle East top their cookies with chocolate sauce and eat them on a plate with a knife and fork. And if you think you’re alone in fighting to eat just one cookie, you’re wrong. Wyman says 13.5 percent of Americans admit to sitting down and eating more than 20 chocolate chip cookies at a time!
This recipe makes approximately 36 cookies. Enough for everyone to have more than one.
Secret Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Makes three dozen)
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (I use a gluten-free rice blend)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup stevia, Splenda, sugar or your favorite sweetener
½ cup packed light brown sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup walnuts (optional)
Cream together butter, cream cheese, sweetener, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Gently stir in the dry ingredients and then fold in the
chocolate chips (and nuts if desired).
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours (or up to three days).
Bake chilled cookies on parchment or Silpat for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown at 375 degrees.
Cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.
Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a local TV and radio personality with three children and five grandchildren. Her healthy lifestyle show, The Sweet Life, is airing on public television stations nationwide.