Have you seen the episode of Grey’s Anatomy when Izzie is trying to figure out her mother’s secret ingredient for chocolate cupcakes? She bakes batch after batch to figure it out. That has been me for the past few months trying make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I attempted every recipe I could get my hands on and each batch was okay, but not perfect.
I’m pretty sure I came out of the womb in an apron.
My childhood was spent in the kitchen with my mom or baking with my grandma Cookie. Yes, you read that right. Gaga, as I called her, ran a home based cake and cookie business called Cakes by Cookie. Everyone knew her as Cookie and to be honest, I’m sure a lot of people didn’t know her real name. She made all kinds of sweets and I grew up at her side taking in all of her knowledge.
When Gaga passed away in 2016, she left me her Kitchen Aid 600 Series Bowl-Lift Mixer. All of the bakers out there know this is a prized possession. It was certainly an upgrade from my vintage Kitchen Aid Mixer that was manufactured in 1962. I finally had the capabilities to make bigger batches, use the dough hook to make piergoies and purchase attachments such as the meat grinder or spiralizer.
Gaga taught me never to show up empty handed. She would give cookies to the mailman, the cashiers at the gas stations and the servers at her favorite restaurant. This tradition stuck with me. I take my baked goods to my bar regulars, into my office and to the staff and bands I go out to see. If a friend is having a dinner party, I’m the first to volunteer to bring dessert.
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” – Julia Child
Baking has always been a hobby until the idea of starting a business became an achievable goal. I watched people around me find their passions and take the steps to create something they love while making an income. It is so inspiring! There is a lot about the baking process I do not understand. I did not go to culinary school and I have never taken a pastry class. Nashville may be a foodie city, but it lacks baking and pastry classes. Becoming a self-taught baker takes patience and a lot of trial and error, so I decided to start small. I made a goal to “perfect” recipes one by one and the first on my list was the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
After the many failed attempts from family and internet recipes, I decided to dig deeper. Gaga was a firm believer in measuring by hand (literally in her hand). Baking is a science. Everything should be measured and weighed for consistency. One night I sat down with my aunt’s chocolate chip cookie recipe, a baking and pastry textbook and a bag of Nestle Toll House chocolate chips.
If I cannot find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, why not write my own?
The textbook explained how the amount of each ingredient will affect the end result. The mixing process is also key to how your cookies turn out. There is a lot to take in when you’re reading a culinary textbook, but I took the time to understand how each step in the process would affect the end result. I tested a variety of measurements, bake times and oven temperatures. I bagged them up separately and took them to my usual Monday night spot for taste testing. My last batch stood out among the others and is now my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 Butter Flavor Crisco Stick
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
- Cream butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a standing mixer (hand mixer works, too) for 2-3 minutes. Lower the speed and add one egg at a time, waiting until the previous is fully mixed. Add vanilla and almond extract.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients using a dry measuring cup until fully combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Using a medium sized cookie scoop, drop the dough 2 inches apart and line the baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
- - If you don't have Butter Flavor Crisco Sticks, you can substitute 2 sticks of unsalted butter.
- - Make sure all ingredients are room temperature!
- - Be sure not to over beat the dough when adding in the eggs and flour.
- - I use equal parts semisweet and milk chocolate chips, but feel free to use what you prefer.
- - Invest in an oven thermometer. After using mine, I found my oven is 15 degrees off.