Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The First Cookies I Ever Baked

My love of baking started when I was a girl and my mom let me lick the cookie dough off the beaters.  As I got older, she let me "help" when she made cookies and, eventually, I was allowed to make cookies by myself with the condition that I clean up the kitchen afterwards.

I'm about to reveal Mom's recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  It's actually available online in several places, so I guess it's not really a big secret.  But every time I make these cookies I get asked for the recipe because they are so chewy and yummy and delicious.  Want to know the secret ingredient?  Ok, but don't tell anyone.  It's Jello pudding mix.  Seriously.  You can squint at the recipe in the picture below, or just click on this link: chocolate chip cookie recipe

Every time I get out this recipe and bake those cookies we used to make together, I can hear Mom's voice in my head as she patiently taught me all the baking tricks that aren't written on the recipe card.

Remember to turn on the oven first so it is preheated by the time you are done making the dough!

It's a good idea to gather all the ingredients to make sure you have enough of everything.  You don't want to get part way through the recipe and discover you don't have any eggs.

Step 1:  Mix flour and baking soda and set aside.

Scoop the flour into the measuring cup until it's over-full.  Then tap it gently a couple times with the straight edge of a butter knife so the flour settles.  Then scrape across the top of the measuring cup with the knife so you have exactly 1 cup of flour.

When you dump the flour into the bowl, try to dump it along one edge of the bowl.  Dump the next cup of flour along the opposite edge.  See how you can see 2 distinct mounds of flour?  That helps when you get interrupted while measuring and you lose track of how many cups of flour you've added already.  You can just count the mounds. (I can't tell you how many times that little gem of advice has saved me!)

Step 2: Combine butter, sugars, vanilla and pudding mix in a large bowl.  Beat until creamy.

Measure the granulated sugar just like you did the flour.  But the brown sugar, you pack that into the measuring cup just like you're making a sand castle.  When you dump it out, it should stay in the shape of the measuring cup.

Step 3:  Beat in eggs.

Tap the egg against the edge of the bowl.  Then insert your two thumbs into the crack and pull them apart.  (I wonder how many eggshells she had to fish out of the dough as she was teaching me this technique!)

Step 4: Gradually add flour mixture.

It says "gradually" because if you add all the flour at once and turn on your mixer, you'll have flour all over your kitchen.  (Did she find this out the hard way, or did she just take her mother's word for it?  I know I've learned this lesson the hard way. That's probably why kitchen cleanup was a requirement whenever I asked to bake...)

Step 5:  Stir in chips and nuts.

Forget the nuts.  Just add the chocolate chips!

Step 6:  Drop by rounded teaspoon about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet.

Using a teaspoon will help you make all the cookies the same size which is important so they all take the same amount of time to bake.

Make sure you don't put the cookie dough blobs too close together because they spread in the oven and you'll end up with one big, giant cookie!

Step 7:  Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.

When a recipe gives you a range of baking times, always set the timer for the lowest time listed.  Check to see if they're done and, if not, keep an eye on them so they don't burn.

These cookies are so delicious and gooey.  The secret ingredient of pudding mix really makes them unforgettable.  You bake them until you can see brown around the edges, but the top/middle still looks raw.  Let them cool a bit on the cookie sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack, otherwise they'll just mush.  They taste good warm, but taste even better the next day.  Especially to those people who like cookie dough just as much as they like cookies.

So, thank you, Mom for teaching me how to bake. I am now passing this knowledge on to my sons. Although they are mostly at the I-just-want-to-lick-the-beater stage.


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