SMS: Nuts about Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Almonds

Since the beginning of my baking career, I’ve searched tirelessly for the elusive “ultimate” chocolate chip cookie recipe. Over the years, I’ve tried lots of variations, and though I’ve come close, it feels like there’s always something missing which precludes the bestowal of that superlative designation. While I yearn to uncover my ideal go-to recipe, there is certainly enjoyment in the hunt. Each new tester offers the promise of perfection, and there’s a delectable moment of anticipation when a fresh batch emerges from the oven, glowing, gooey, and golden.

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Developed in 1934 by Ruth Wakefield, owner of the Tollhouse Inn in Whitman, MA, the chocolate chip cookie was born accidentally after Wakefield made a fateful substitution while baking her favorite Butter Drop Do cookies. Finding herself without baker’s chocolate, she stirred in a chopped up Nestle semi-sweet chocolate bar, but instead of melting into the batter as anticipated, the bits merely softened. After gaining popularity, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie” led to an increase in Nestle’s sales, and the company bought Wakefield’s recipe in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. The chocolate chip cookie craze spread during WWII, when GI’s from Massachusetts received care packages filled with the goodies, shared with their fellow troops, and sent requests for more back home. Today, nearly seven billion chocolate chip cookies are eaten annually and half of the cookies baked in American homes are chocolate chip. As the official state cookie of Massachusetts, my stomping ground, the chocolate chip cookie will forever hold a special place in my heart.

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Fortunately, this week’s Sweet Melissa Sunday’s selection presented another opportunity to test a potential favorite cookie. After mixing up the batter, shaping into logs, and allowing an overnight rest in the refrigerator, I pulled out the dough for Chocolate Chip Cookies with Toasted Almonds this morning, and prepared to assess Melissa Murphy’s tried-and-true recipe. I made one slight alteration, adding a splash of almond extract along with the vanilla, to accent the nutty flavor of the star mix-in. A departure from more common walnuts or pecans, the whole natural almonds offered a surprising crunch and chunky texture to the cookies, and elevated their level of sophistication. The slice-and-bake format of the recipe was a welcome change from the scoop-and-drop method, and I had a tray of equal dough rounds ready for the oven in no time. After 13 minutes, the cookies had spread evenly to a desirable thickness, with thin crispy edges transitioning to plump chewy centers. Ultimately, I was very pleased with their overall eye-appeal, and the delightful scent that permeated my kitchen. Most importantly, the cookies received two thumbs up and the lingering “mmm…” moan of deliciousness from both my tasters. The distinctive nuts charmed my dad, while my mom noted their delicate sweetness and pleasing texture. While I can’t say that I baked the very best version of the chocolate chip cookie, I will certainly be marking this recipe as a fun variation to come back to time and again.

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Can you believe Melissa Murphy herself chose this week’s recipe? Head over to the SMS site to read all about it, and don’t forget to check out the SMS blogroll to see the other baker’s cookies!

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20 responses

  1. What a wonderful description of these cookies. Being a recipient of many of the “tester cookies” during your search for the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe, I have to say that these really hit the mark. The crunch of the almond in the cookie added so much to the taste and overall consistency. The only problem I could see, is that it is impossible to eat just one!!
    With lots of love,
    Mom

  2. Howdy, neighbor! I’m from RI 🙂 Your cookies look great! Sorry they weren’t good enough to become your go-to recipe but I’m glad you enjoyed them. They were a favorite for me!

  3. Hi there!

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog! I’m feeling much better and I can’t wait to get back into my kitchen and give these cookies a go! Everyone has had such wonderful things to say about them 🙂

    I’m looking forward to baking with you every week 😀

    Katie xox

  4. Thanks for stopping by, Joy. I will be baking a wedding cake this weekend so I made a test cake of the actual cake (white cake). With so many yolks left unused, I had a hard time throwing them away (hate food wasting) so I decided to look up a pastry cream recipe. I used ATK’s Family Baking Book and made their pastry cream. Instead of half-and-half (which I normally don’t buy) I used 2% milk. Turned out great. Can only imagine how much richer it would be with half-and-half. I’m thinking of turning my “test wedding cake” into a Boston Cream Pie :o) Thought I’d let you know since you asked if I had baked anything from that book :o)

  5. What a great post! I never knew the history of cccs, how wonderful! Actually my mom’s go-to recipe is a modified Toll House, so I’ll have to share this story with her.

  6. “A splash of almond extract” – I love your descriptive writing! I did the same thing and was very happy with the combined flavor of the two extracts. Your cookies look like chewy, gooey, goodness.

  7. I love that chocolate chipers are the Mass state cookie, and love the story behind the spread in popularity! Your cookies look perfect, have me wishing I didn’t eat the last one of these yesterday.

  8. Hi! I think your cookies look gorgeous!

    As for the BakingGALS badge on your blog, unfortunately I don’t use WordPress so I am totally at a loss on how to tell you to add it. Sorry that is no help! You could probably contact the GALS directly or check the site – maybe there are instructions for WP there. 🙂

  9. Joy,

    I sent you an email on Friday. For some reason I have problems sending email go “gmail” accounts. See if it ended up in your Junk folder or something.

    Talk to you later,
    Hanaa

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