Bite-size chocolate chip cookies sit in a bowl, ready to be devoured. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

Bite-size chocolate chip cookies sit in a bowl, ready to be devoured. (Emily Hanson/Peninsula Daily News)

THE COOKING HOBBYIST: Chocolate chip cookies pave the road to happiness

I’M PRETTY SURE I’ve discovered the key to a happy life.

It’s simple, inexpensive and delicious.

And here it is: Always keep the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies in your cupboard.

I’ve used the same chocolate chip cookie recipe my whole life. It comes from a book my mom has, “Better Homes and Gardens: Cookies and Candies” (1966).

I have fond memories of that book. The spine was fairly tattered by the time I was old enough to pry it out of the overpacked recipe cupboard. Some of the pages were stuck together with sugar or syrups. And the page with the chocolate chip cookie recipe on it was grainy from years of flour settled on it.

In fact, whenever I opened the book, it always opened to the correct page because that was the most-used recipe in the thing.

Before I could read, I could find the recipe because it was on the page opposite of the photo of cookies so I could take the book to Mom and show her the photo and just ask for them that way.

The request was granted more often than denied.

These are amazing cookies. They’re definitely the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever eaten.

And the best part is that every time I make them, I’m reminded of some of my favorite times growing up.

The first time I made these cookies, I was too short to stand next to the kitchen table to combine ingredients. So Mom helped me put everything on the dining room table and then I knelt on a chair so I was taller than the bowl and could see what I was doing.

The stirring hurt my little chicken arms, but I wouldn’t let anyone help me because I “wanted to bake like the big kids.”

The memory of when my sister baked these cookies and accidentally left out all of the dry ingredients still brings a smile to my face. They turned out flat as paper and all of them stuck together into a flat cookie blob, but they still tasted good. You can’t really go wrong as long as the sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, shortening and egg are present, I suppose.

Also, my dad and I were the only ones who would eat these cookies, so more for me.

Everybody in my family seems to have a different preference when it comes to the chocolate chips.

Some like to double the amount.

Dad liked them best without any or just one chip per cookie.

I’ve gotten to the point where I don’t even measure the chocolate. I just mix together the dough, then toss in enough chocolate to just barely cover the top of the dough and then I fold the chips in and call it good.

Mom recently gave me my own copy of the book. It seems weird that none of the pages are falling out and I have to turn pages just to find the right recipe, but it’s nice to have my own copy of such a treasured book.

It even already has some flour on the pages.

And imagine my surprise when, upon reading the book version of the recipe (it’s been handwritten on a notecard for years) for the first time since childhood I realized the recipe calls for walnuts.

As if I would ever put walnuts in chocolate chip cookies.

Also, these cookies are meant to be tiny. The recipe is supposed to yeild three dozen bite-sized cookies. When I make them, the recipe usually gives me 12, sometimes 24.

So, in honor of having my own book after all these years, I followed the recipe exactly (minus the walnuts, obviously) and when I used the recommended teaspoon to divide the dough, I couldn’t believe how tiny they were. I even almost burned them because they were so much smaller than usual.

Bite-sized cookies are adorable, though. And a lot of fun to toss into your mouth.

Although, I must admit, this batch of cookies didn’t last 24 hours in my house.

Chocolate chippers from “Better Homes and Gardens: Cookies and Candies”

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 6-ounce package (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate pieces

1/2 cup chopped California walnuts (totally optional, I’ve never used them)

Cream together the shortening, sugars, egg and vanilla until fluffy.

In a seperate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.

Stir in chocolate and nuts (again, nuts are optional).

Drop the dough from a teaspoon two inches apart onto a greased cookie sheet (I actually use parchment paper. It’s much easier to use, keeps the cookies from getting greasy and makes cleanup a breeze.)

Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes (I have no idea where they came up with those times. For cookies the recommended size, it took about six minutes in my oven. Watch these carefully to get the time right.)

Remove from pan and allow to cool (if you can) before eating.

________

Emily Hanson is a copy editor/paginator for the Peninsula Daily News. She is also a beginning baker and clumsy cook. She can be reached at 360-452-2345 ext. 560-50 or [email protected] dailynews.com.

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