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Step aside apple pie, cookies sparkle now
Starting from scratch

Visit the Photo Place
Date published: 7/2/2008


If you're looking to try your hand at baking from scratch for the first time, the original Toll House recipe for chocolate-chip cookies offers a pretty user-friendly experience.

You don't even need to make a shopping list. Just go to any grocery store and head for the baking aisle. Pick up a yellow bag of chocolate chips and turn it over.

Your supply list, instructions and key ingredient are all right there in your hand.

The chocolate-chip cookie was supposedly invented 78 years ago, when Ruth Wakefield--proprietor of the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts--threw a broken-up chocolate bar into her butter cookie dough.

It has since become an American favorite, even rivaling the much ballyhooed apple pie.

We buy them pre-packaged at the grocery store, piping hot and big as hubcaps at the mall. We substitute them for birthday cakes and put them on sticks like lollipops.

My husband and I were even given some treats for our dog that look like tiny chocolate-chip cookies--with carob standing in for chocolate, of course.

While the original Toll House recipe is a sure bet if you're looking to pull something fresh, tasty and homemade from your oven, that hasn't stopped America's home cooks from messing with it.

A Free Lance-Star request for readers' favorite chocolate-chip cookie recipes yielded about a dozen different dispatches from around the region.

They range from simple--yellow cake mix, butter, eggs, chips--to fine-tuned and complex. The recipes included four different kinds of sugar, four different kinds of chocolate chips and quite an array of fats.

We saw "secret ingredients" that ranged from Nestle's Quik powder to Amaretto to ground-up mint-flavored Oreos.

After baking just four of these, it was clear that the words "chocolate-chip cookie" doesn't conjure up a cookie-cutter image in our minds.

There are the cakey cookies, with a light color and soft texture.

There is shortbread-like dough that bakes up into the texture of a store-bought cookie.

Then there are the batters that go heavy on the brown sugar. Some bake into chewy little rounds, and others spread out into thin, wide treats with a doughy center and dark, crisp edges that taste like candy.

Which one is best depends on the cookie-eater.

I put the four varieties out in our newsroom and asked for comments.

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Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes Makes about 24 cookies

1 box cake mix of your choosing (we used Duncan Hines Moist Deluxe Classic Yellow) cup butter or margarine, softened 2 eggs1 cup chocolate morsels

Procedure: Mix all ingredients together. Drop on cookie sheet in rough tablespoonfuls. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes. Recipe from: Falmouth resident Wilma Comuntzis


Prep time: 2O minutes Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes Makes 8 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, softened 1 cup vegetable oil 1 cup sugar 1 cup sifted powdered sugar2 eggs 4 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon cream of tartar 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 12-oz. package semisweet chocolate morsels 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans Additional sugar for rolling cookies

Procedure: Combine first five ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Combine flour, soda, cream of tartar and salt. Add to butter mixture; beat until smooth. Stir in vanilla and chocolate morsels. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool on wire racks. Recipe from: King George resident Marie Conner, who found it in Southern Living magazine years ago.


Prep time: 2O minutes Cook time: 10 to 12 minutes Makes roughly 8 dozen cookies

4 sticks butter, still cold and cut into 1-inch pieces1 cups sugar 2 cups brown sugar1 tablespoon vanilla 3 large eggs 1 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoons baking soda 6 cups all-purpose flour 10 ounces semisweet chocolate chips 10 ounces milk chocolate chips 10 ounces white chocolate chips1 cups favorite nuts, coarsely chopped Cook's note: The author recommends toasting the nuts for 5 minutes at 350 degrees to bring out their flavor.

Procedure: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put butter in a large mixing bowl and add sugars. Cream on high speed until butter and sugars are fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda. Add to the batter, mixing just until the flour is incorporated. Do not over-mix. Add all the chips and nuts and mix by hand until evenly distributed. Use an ice cream scoop to measure the cookie dough or use a heaping tablespoonful, about the size of a golf ball. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone-coated mat and bake for 10 to 12 minutes for a soft cookie, or 15 minutes for a crisp cookie. Recipe from: A cooking teacher and friend of Stafford resident Verla Monge


Prep time: about 20 minutes Cook time: 8 to 10 minutes Makes around 3 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda teaspoon salt1 cup unsalted butter, softened1 cups firmly packed light brown sugar cup granulated sugar 2 eggs 1 teaspoon vanilla extract cup semisweet chocolate chips Cook's note: The author leads the King George Celiac and Gluten Intolerance Group. To make these cookies gluten-free, she said, replace the flour with 1 cups finely ground white rice flour, cup cornstarch and 1 teaspoon xanthan gum.

Procedure: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper. Beat butter until smooth. Stir in brown sugar and granulated sugar until well combined and smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla until fluffy. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture slowly until well-combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop two tablespoons of dough for each cookie onto cookie sheet 2 inches apart. The spacing is important, because these spread a lot.

Bake 8 to 10 minutes until set. Let set further on baking sheet for a minute or so after removing from the oven.

Recipe from: King George resident Shirley Braden found this in a magazine years ago. She said she recently discovered that the original author is Alexis Stewart, daughter of Martha Stewart.

Here are some bonus recipes:

  • Minty Flavored Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Secret Ingredient Cookies

  • Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • The Best Chocolate-Chip Cookie Recipe