Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mrs. Jane's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

 Mrs. Jane is my mom.  

Everyone knows she makes the best chocolate chip cookies--the kind that stay fresh and soft for days without any weird tricks like putting bread in the container with them.  When you make them fresh without chilling the dough first (who can wait?), they turn out to be a little more flat like the ones below.  I ran out of common salt so I threw in sea salt for the remainder of the portion, and I will say it was nice to bite into those surprise chunks of goodness, especially when they were close to the chocolate.  

Since Ben and I aren't in any condition to be eating entire batches of CCC's, one of my favorite things to do is make one pan of them and then freeze the rest of the dough.  Now there is no point in freezing the dough unless you make it easy on yourself later, so be sure to spoon them out on a baking sheet that will fit in your freezer, and give them a night to harden. You can cover the dough with wax paper or even line the sheet with parchment, but I am too cheap to waste materials and use them very sparingly. Don't leave them out in the wide open freezer for much longer than that, funky things will eventually happen. 

When they are frozen through, sit them on the counter just long enough for the chill to come off, and they will release without problem and you can toss them in your storage container of choice.  Ziploc bags work just fine, but if you have a big Rubbermaid you can part with for a few weeks, those are even better. 

If you enjoy baking, one of the most important things you can do for yourself is invest in the proper tools.  Any other Williams-Sonoma addicts here?  Maybe about once every four or five months, we have wiggle room in the budget and I will invest in a missing tool that I've found myself reaching for on a more regular basis.  My Aunt gave me two of these HEAVY duty cookie sheets as a wedding gift, and they are simply amazing.  So amazing that I didn't bother cleaning them for their blog debut...

It doesn't end with bringing them home, you need to vow to take care of them!  If things are not dishwasher safe, take the extra minute or two and hand wash.  If they are only to be used for cookies and not burgers, use them for cookies and not burgers.  Take immaculate care of your tools, and they will last a lifetime.  And for the cheapies you have leftover from college, take care of those too, and when they reach their endings, replace them with something of quality.  

For those who think they cannot afford quality pieces, put aside $5 a month and you will be on your way to the necessary essentials in no time!

So now for the recipe!  We gave these cookies as favors for our wedding, along with cartons of white and chocolate milk.  Attached to the bag were magnets with the recipe, and I love to hear stories of our friends replicating these CCC's.  I believe they were all gone by the time we even made it to the reception, which is why we have no  pictures from the photographers.  If you look closely at this b&w photo of us leaving our reception, you'll notice Ben grabbed a chocolate milk on our way out.  Boy is obsessed.

I'll get into the theory of these cookies another time, but the main concept I'd like to review would be the softened butter vs. melted butter conundrum.  When a recipe calls for softened butter or melted butter, it is absolutely essential that you add what is specified!  Adding melted butter when softened butter is required will drastically change the consistency of the dough.  More flour will be required because the liquid butter will absorb the flour instantaneously, which will negatively affect the texture of the cookie.  Do not do not do not take shortcuts here!  If you need to soften butter in a hurry, leave it in the paper and with a sharp knife, make cuts at each tablespoon mark. Fold it backwards toward itself, making an arch shape, and leave it on the counter for a bit.  Clean off your kitchen table and by then it should be soft enough!

The last and final reminder is to take these cookies out when they have JUST started to turn golden around the edges and top.  By the time they have cooled enough to remove them from the pan, they will have finished cooking perfectly.  (Just because you have removed the pan from the oven doesn't mean you have removed the cookie from all heat sources).  I'd say these cookies are at their prime on day two.  

One final note: use butter, not margarine.  Don't ever skimp on butter unless a recipe specifically calls for margarine instead!

Mrs. Jane's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies

MIX 3 sticks of softened butter, 1 c white sugar, 1 c brown sugar, 2 eggs, and 2 t vanilla until creamy.

ADD 3.75 cups of flour, 2 t baking soda, and 2 t salt.

MIX in chocolate chips, nuts, m&m's, whatever!

PLACE spoonfuls of dough onto greased cookie sheet.

BAKE at 350 for 10 minutes or until the edges are golden.

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