A couple weeks ago, I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies for Mike to take up to his cabin over Labor Day. I ate one (okay, actually two) fresh from the oven, when the cookie was soft and pliable and the chips were still melty. It tasted like caramelized sugar, with scattered bits of semi-sweet chocolate and a dash of vanilla, but underneath those flavors it tasted like home. I am fortunate to have a mom who is a talented baker, the sort of person who always makes brownies from scratch and marks the changing seasons with homemade pies—fresh strawberry at the beginning of summer, then blueberry, raspberry, apple as fall arrives, and finally pumpkin for Thanksgiving. Aside from the occasional cameo appearance by Oreos, our cookie jar was filled with homemade cookies. There were peanut butter, oatmeal, molasses, M&M, and sugar cookies, but most often the cookie du jour was chocolate chip. My mom makes the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever tasted. And even better than the chocolate chip cookies themselves is the raw dough, small spoonfuls stolen from the bowl as the cookies are assembled and then the leftover bits scraped from the bowl.
Out of curiosity, I compared my mom’s recipe to the standard recipe listed on the back of my bag of Nestle chocolate chips. The major difference is that my mom’s recipe uses margarine and shortening, which makes for a softer cookie than using the butter called for by the Nestle recipe. My mom's recipe also contains a half teaspoon of water, which practically speaking shouldn’t make much of a difference, but I like to think of it as the secret ingredient that makes the cookies taste so perfect.
Yield: about 4 dozen 2-inch cookies
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup margarine (1 stick, not spread), softened to room temperature
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon water
- 2 eggs
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 12-ounce package semi-sweet chocolate chips (Mom and I prefer Nestle brand)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix sugars together in a large bowl. Add margarine, shortening, vanilla, and water and mix until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and mix until well combined. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix until dry ingredients are completely incorporated. Add chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed.
Using two spoons, drop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly browned on the edges. Cool on baking sheets for a few minutes, and then remove from baking sheets to finish cooling on wire racks.
Store in airtight container at room temperature.