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.
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.
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.