During my high school days, if it was Friday night – more often than not – I was baking cookies. Sometimes by myself. Sometimes with friends. Always the same recipe: Chocolate Chip Cookies.
In those days, there was only one recipe for chocolate chip cookies, as far as I was concerned. The first time I tasted these cookies was on a dreary, rainy day when I was in fourth or fifth grade. My mom had taken me shopping for school clothes, which I remember being sort of a big deal in those days. During our day out, we stopped back home for a moment, my mom rushing in to grab whatever it was she had forgotten, and my dad brought out a little paper plate with chocolate chip cookies he had just pulled out of the oven. I can still see the way their warmth steamed up the windshield. With the cold rain pounding on the roof, I took my first bite of what became like a friend to me, a constant, something that I carried with me ever since.
Over time, that recipe became my go-to recipe, the one that I made whenever I made cookies. It was my signature recipe, you might say. And over the years I baked them for everything: for sleepovers and for birthday parties and for teachers and for boyfriends; to soothe friends’ heartaches and to take on camping trips and to satisfy chocolate cravings and to earn a little money on the side. I made them so often that our school newspaper did a story on them my senior year of high school.
Since those days, I have made them too many times to count. But not recently. Although chocolate chip cookies are still a favorite of mine, I simply don’t indulge my cravings for them very often. In fact, when I made them again recently I was afraid that it had been too long, and I began to fear that my memory was flawed and I would be disappointed to discover they weren’t as good as I remembered.
I was wrong. They were just as good as I remembered.
And for a moment, I was in high school again, and I felt a wave of nostalgia wash over me as I thought about Molly and Autumn and Cari and Erika B. and Christina and Erica M. and how we used to bake and daydream and do makeovers and tell secrets on otherwise ordinary Friday nights, munching on chocolate chip cookies (and to be fair, other junk food too) as we imagined what it would be like to meet and fall in love with the boys who would eventually become our husbands. As I thought about those days and the dreams we used to dream, my thoughts turned to you, and our own little girls, and how I couldn’t imagine a better dream come true than you.
So to those girls – and any I have missed – thank you for carrying me through those years, for listening to my heart and trusting me with yours. I treasure those days of friendship with you, and whenever I make these cookies, I will always think of you.
These cookies are soft and gooey right out of the oven, which is the best time to eat them in my opinion. They are nice and soft at that point, but of course they firm up as they cool down. They are not exactly soft and chewy once cooled, but they aren’t crispy either. Dense, rich, and addictive. Best shared with a few girlfriends and a tall glass of milk.
2 sticks (salted) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 (generous) teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 package really good chocolate chips (I like Trader Joe’s or Ghirardelli)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together butter and sugars, then add the egg and vanilla. Once combined, stir in by hand the flour, baking soda and salt and thoroughly mix. (I find that using an electric mixer for this part makes the cookie dough flatter and yields a crispier finished product. Mixing by hand keeps the cookies fluffy.) Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.
Scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet; I use an ice cream scoop that is about 1 1/2″ diameter. After I scoop the dough, I roll it a bit between my palms to create smooth little balls of dough. This creates a beautifully smooth cookie.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven immediately; let set on the cookie sheet for a minute or two and then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.