Saturday, January 15, 2011

Best. Ever. Chocolate Chip Cookies.


I can tell you right now this will probably be one of my favorite posts to this blog, which will explain my obsessive amount of photos. I've had a love relationship with chocolate chip cookies my entire life. They played a big part in my growing up years. I think if I had to pick my favorite cookie in the whole wide world, it would be the chocolate chip cookie. That's a hard one, because there are SO MANY cookies that I absolutely LOVE and would categorize as "one of my favorites" (and with the exception of my family's recipe of pecan pralines, which are not a cookie but a candy, and I have tried unsuccessfully many times to make perfect like my Aunt Karen who my oldest has dubbed "The Praline Queen"), chocolate chip cookies would be my most favorite all-around, eat-it-for-any-occasion cookie.


My mom started having "Cookie Day" for me and my siblings when I was about 11 years old, give or take a year. I'm the oldest and there are five years each between me and my brother, my brother and my sister, so they were much younger when Cookie Day started for their friends.

Once she started it, it stuck. Every Thursday she would allow us to have friends over after school for homemade chocolate chip cookies and lemonade, or cocoa if it was cold outside. Kids would have the bus drop them off at our house, or their parents would, and for about an hour and a half we would chow down on the best chocolate chip cookies and lemonade or cocoa, talk, laugh, play and just have fun being kids, and later, teenagers. It was brilliant of my mom, really, because she got to know the kids really well at the same time. Thursdays became almost sacred for our friends, knowing they'd get those cookies and a relaxing time after school.



As we got older, less friends would come regularly. Extracurricular activities, practices and rehearsals began to take more after-school time, and later, after-school jobs. By the time I was a teenager with a job and lots of practices, I rarely was there for cookie day but Mom was still having it for my siblings and their friends. I had friends who loved Cookie Day so much that sometimes they would still stop by to grab a cookie or two, knowing it was Thursday afternoon. And now, as adults, several of my friends and my siblings' friends still reminisce about Cookie Day.


Naturally, now that I have children of my own, I've reincarnated the Cookie Day tradition. It started this year for my oldest (2nd grade) and maybe next year (or the following) I'll feel I can handle more kids of different ages and will let my youngest invite friends as well. She is currently enjoying hanging out with the "big kids." For now, though, I'm holding it on once a month and on Fridays. My mom was brave to have it once a week, and I'm not there yet. I can say, though, that it warms my heart to hear all those giggling girls enjoying my cookies with pink lemonade. And they do enjoy, very much, these gluten-free cookies.


My mom used the Nestle Toll House recipe for her chocolate chip cookies, usually without the pecans, and no doubt making variations on occasion based on the ingredients at hand. She usually made the dough a day ahead and then refrigerated it, which is what I also try do. I nearly always add the pecans. I love pecans.


I also use the Nestle Toll House recipe, with several changes as you will see below. As with so many of my other favorite recipes, it was a trial and error process for me to finally perfect the gluten-free chocolate chip cookie. I tried different flour blends and recipes, with none of them quite making it based on some texture and/or taste issue, however minor or major they might be. I also tried several chocolate chip cookie mixes, and while all of them were certainly edible and a couple were even outstanding, none matched THE TASTE I'd come to know and love. Given my extensive love affair with the chocolate chip cookie, it had to be just right.

And it finally was.


Projected prep time: 10-15 minutes (minus putting on pans); Projected bake time: 9-11 minutes
Makes approxmately 5 dozen.
2 1/4 c. (level) Pamela's Bread Mix & Flour Blend & Flour Blend (not baking & pancake mix - NOTE: PLEASE SEE COMMENT 20 BELOW, AND MY REPLY. I HAVEN'T HAD A CHANCE TO TRY NEW STUFF)
1 tsp., with a small pinch removed (see below), baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 c. unsalted butter
1/2 c. salted butter
1/4 c. organic sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar (packed)
1/2 c. dark brown sugar (packed)
1 tsp. pure vanilla
2 large eggs
2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (unless you are refrigerating dough for a later use).

When I use baking soda, I nearly always level the spoon out and then take the tip of my finger and dip a little out of it. I don't know if you can tell in the photo below, but I tried to show it. I do this for the chocolate chip cookie recipe. Also, any time I use baking soda I first pour the spoonful in my hand and then sprinkle it into the ingredients making sure to separate any clumps there might be. It's no fun to be eating something wonderfully sweet and then get a bite of sour baking soda because it was clumped.


Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl.


I've found that for the best chocolate chip cookies with this adapted recipe, you really need the sugars I list above. Use organic sugar as specified, not the refined white sugar. It will make a difference.


Also, when using brown sugar, always make sure you're using pure brown cane sugar. Many brown sugars, even "big" brands are not really true brown sugar. They are refined white sugar mixed with molasses. You can tell the difference if you taste this kind and then true brown sugar. Organic pure brown sugar will be true brown sugar, and so will the C&H brand. If you can't get either of these, check the ingredients on the label and it will probably tell you what kind of brown sugar you are dealing with.

Alright, now let's move past that lesson. Beat the butter, sugars and vanilla (I usually let it dribble past the teaspoon so there's more than a teaspoon of vanilla in there) together until creamy.


This is always one of my favorite parts in baking certain things. The combination of pure butter, pure vanilla and pure brown sugar has got to be one of the best tastes -- and smells -- in the world.

So, go ahead and get a little spoon of it to taste before you put the eggs in.


Oh.So.Yum.

Now add your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one.

Gradually beat in your dry ingredients, then your chopped pecans (unless you are opting out), then your chocolate chips (probably want to do this at a much slower speed or stir them in by hand so they don't get chopped up in the mixer).

Drop onto ungreased cookie sheets by rounded tablespoon or teaspoon (but does anyone really use an actual measuring spoon to do this??), depending on how big you want them. For little girls who will no doubt be eating at least five each, I do the "teaspoon."

At this point you can also stick them in the freezer, wait until they are frozen, then store them in layers between wax paper in the freezer until you are ready to bake them.

Bake (top rack if you're using a gas oven) 8-11 minutes. I turn them around halfway through baking. If your oven seems to be baking them faster, try checking them at 6 minutes. You want them to be browned on bottom and a little on edges but not too overdone. You want them to be crispy on the bottom and edges and just a little on the outside, but still really chewy at the same time.

Cool 2 minutes on the sheets ...


then transfer them to a wire rack.


I hope this inspires you to start your own Cookie Day.


These will keep in airtight container for a few days (if you can even manage to keep them around that long -- in our house, that's impossible!), but if you don't plan on eating them all in a few days, seal in an airtight freezer container or ziploc and freeze.


Enjoy!

24 comments:

  1. OH, delish!!! How much fun is Cookie Day?! What a perfect idea. If it weren't 8,576 miles away, the boys and I just might swing by for the next one. :)

    I have a dear friend, Heather, who has recently gone gluten-free. She has a blog and she was blowing you virtual kisses for helping her make the transition. I wanted you to see it. You should notice a traffic bump from her site:
    http://heathersthompson.typepad.com/gatheringspriggs/2011/01/sunday-morning-yum.html

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  2. Oh. thanks ginny Im blushing! Yes, Caneel! These are amazing! I just made them. I wish I could have tasted yours because I can almost smell the delicious love that went into them. Mine were a little different since I didn't have the natural brown sugars you spoke of and used the generic (sugar +molasses) kind. but they were still tasty. and definitely helped my PMSing chocolatey sugar rush. Thank you once again for making this process into Gluten Free living easier and more delicious than expected.

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  3. Ginny, you have to swing by for one at some point! :)

    I did see Heather's post and tweeted her a thanks for it on Twitter. Need to make sure I also posted a comment on the blog. I'm so glad she's trying to find things that can help with diet and all.

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  4. Heather, I got sidetracked in the middle of the above comment by my sick children and then came back to it, published it and then saw yours!

    I'm so glad you found them good! :)

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. I have been GF for over a year. My 9 year old daughter just went GF. I made them last night for a party she is going to this weekend. Though she doesn’t have a milk allergy the Dr. wanted her to be off of it for a few months. I did use the really good European butter... Poor baby though, was too afraid of feeling bad for the party to even try the cookies! I wonder if I could use Earth Balance next time. Do you have an experience baking with that?

    They turned out wonderfully! Just what anyone who is GF wants! They taste “regular”, not GF at all! Thanks again.

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  6. I'm so glad you enjoyed the recipe! :) I have a little experience with Earth's Balance, but not in this recipe. It would probably work out okay, I just don't know if you'd get quite the same taste or texture.

    You might try organic extra virgin coconut oil. I use it in some of my baking in place of butter and it works well, but depending on the recipe it may give a slight coconut taste. I'm not sure how it would work in these cookies, but it might be worth a try with a smaller batch, maybe cut in half or a fourth of regular measurements.

    Thank you for your comment!

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  7. Yum! I might give these a go this weekend. A tip I have if you double a batch of dough is to freeze the individual dough balls. I freeze them on a cookie sheet until hard and then toss them all in a zip baggie. When I feel like a warm cokie treat, I just bake the amount I plan to eat. Straight from the freezer too.

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  8. I like that tip! Let me know how you like them. Seeing these photos makes me think I need to make another batch very soon ... :)

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  9. Those cookies look delicious. I cannot wait to bake them for my littles. And, I love, love, love the cookie day tradition. We might have to start that one, too!

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  10. Thank you! I hope you start it - I'd love to hear about more cookie days for all these kids! :)

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  11. Amazingly easy and really looks delicious. I'm definitely craving for a plate of that right now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is definitely a must do recipe this weekend since I got my Food Safety Training. Happy Valentines Day!!

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  12. My family loves these cookies. They're delicious!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sharon! I'm so glad you all like them! :)

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  13. These look delicious. Before I try it though, I noticed in the recipe that butter is listed twice, with 1/2 c. unsalted, and then another 1/2 c. salted. Is this a typo or is are there really two types of butter in the recipe (1 cup total)?

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    Replies
    1. Not a typo, they really have a cup of butter in them. It's a really guilty pleasure, but worth it. :)

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  14. I noticed the recipe shows two types of butter, salted and unsalted. Is there really 1 full cup of butter in the recipe or was this a typo? I'd like the make these soon as they look delicious!

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    1. Yes, that is correct. Both types. :)

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  15. Thank you so much for this amazing recipe! I have been searching for over a year for great gluten free choc. chip cookies that tastes similar to the tollhouse cookies I grew up with. My search is over. My family declared these the best, don"t try any others. This particular flour gave such a nice consistency to the cookie, I just ordered 12 lbs of it online because of this recipe. (much better price than in local stores). Very nice pictures and instructions also. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! Keep up the good work! I will be checking back often.
    Kim - Moorpark, California

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    1. Kim, you made my day - thank you! I'm so glad you and your family enjoy them! I'll try to post a new recipe this week :)

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  16. Just want you all to know that Pamela's does not make the Bread Mix and Flour Blend anymore. So disappointed! I have tried just using the bread mix from Pamela's (which they say is the same, and it is not) and clearly not the same cookie, taste or texture. This has ALWAYS been my go to chocolate chip cookie. I love it!!!

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    1. Sallie, this makes me sooooo very sad! I still have some of the original, but I'll see what I can do to tweak it when I try the other stuff. Some things need to be improved, and some don't. This was one that made perfect cookies the way it was!! Maybe we can get them to return the other with a "cookie" blend.

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    2. An update: I've talked with Pamela's about this and they have assured me that they haven't changed their formula on this flour. I'm not sure what's going on?? They say it is the exact same.

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  17. Well I was on the hunt and determined to find a GF Chocolate Chip Cookie that was good and was super excited to try your recipe! Unfortunately I had to make a few tweaks based on what I had on hand, but I'm still scratching my head at how my tweaks could have caused the spread-out mess that these ended up being. :( Because they don't have that Bread/flour blend mix anymore - like was mentioned in #20, I did try the pancake and baking mix. The only other tweaks I made was using all salted butter, all light brown sugar (didn't have dark). They spread out in literally minutes. I even tried refrigerating the dough for awhile, knowing sometimes if the butter gets too soft or melty that that can happen, but that didn't seem to work or make a difference. So I really think it's got to be the flour blend not being the same. :( I'm sad though, because even the spread out version was pretty decent with no weird aftertaste or grittiness - so I really wish these turned out a little more cookie-like. :( I'll bet they were delicious the way you made them! I'll be stalking your blogs to see if you even tweak your recipe and come up with a new one using that flour or a different one! :)

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    1. Tina, I'm so sorry about your experience! Please don't give up! Pamela's has assured me that their "bread mix" is the same flour blend with no changes. They have changed the package some, but not the actual flour. And yes, I'm sure it's the flour difference that made them spread. The bread flour blend is a stiffer flour. I hope you get a chance to try again and that it will be a good cookie for you! :)

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