My father, who is recovering from a successful tussle with oral cancer, is one of the best bakers I know.
Although he is currently unable to eat (due to the side effects of the cancer therapy) he is constantly cooking and baking. Preparation is one half of the food ritual, after all– even if he can’t taste the final product, Dad still gets to be involved with the food. To make basic ingredients into something sublime. Interestingly, although generally pretty solid to begin with, many of his most-used recipes have become even better while he’s been unable to taste them. We’re very excited for his mouth to recover so he can enjoy his baked goods as much as we do.
This is my Dad’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. It’s Tollhouse, perfected. Enjoy.
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1.5 cups brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour (sometimes I use some whole wheat flour, but he uses 100% all-purpose)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
chocolate chips, to suit (I generally throw them in by the fistful until I’m satisfied. Maybe 1-1/2 cups?)
chopped walnuts or pecans, optional, and to suit (Again with the fistfuls. Maybe 1 cup. Be sure you only include chunks of nut– the powdery, dusty remnants have a way of making you cough when you bite into them in the cookie, and in general mess up the cookie’s smooth texture.)
Step One: Put the brown sugar in a mixing bowl. (I love my Kitchenaid mixer, which was inherited from the grandmother and is significantly older than I am. You can do this with a hand mixer, but it’s going to take a while.) Melt the butter in the microwave until you can break it into clumps with your fingers. Add these clumps to the bowl and turn the mixer on to combine.
Step Two: Walk away. Seriously. The butter and brown sugar should be mixed at a fairly high speed for 10 minutes or so, so that they combine and change color and become fluffy. This is what makes the cookie so good! If you’re doing this with a hand mixer, be patient.
Step Three: Add the eggs, combine. Add the vanilla, combine. Add the dry ingredients. Recipes often say to mix them together beforehand so you don’t get pockets of salt, and I think that’s good advice, but I don’t usually do it. Haven’t had a problem so far.
Step Four: At this point you should have a lovely dough. Now I add the chocolate chips and nuts until it’s where I want it. Some people like more, some less. Keep in mind that this dough is less sweet than classic Tollhouse dough, so you might want to up your chocolate quotient.
Step Five: Preheat the oven to 350. Stick dough in the freezer for a while (30 minutes?) so it’s stiff when you drop it by large tablespoons onto the greased baking sheet. Oh yes, these are pretty big, fluffy cookies. Bake for 8-12 minutes, keeping a careful eye so the bottoms don’t burn. Let cool. Enjoy.
If the cookies seem slightly undercooked at 12 minutes, take them out anyway. They’ll continue to cook as they cool, so you’ll get perfectly soft insides. These freeze pretty well, too– I like to throw a bag in the freezer in case of an emergency.