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12/26/2015

~ The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe ~

IMG_9703When my mom asked me to bake the Toll House cookies for Christmas, I did it with more joy than all the fancy-schmancy stuff I have baked in a long while.  When I was a kid, Toll House cookies reigned supreme.  Besides store-bought Fig Newtons and Pecan Sandies, homemade gingersnaps and Toll House were one of the few cookies my dad would eat.  The apple didn't fall far from the tree -- we both dislike Oreos too.  So, every year, amongst an array of fancy confections, the basic Toll House cookie proudly takes its place on our holiday cookie tray.

For generations, Americans like my dad have had a love affair with chocolate chip cookies. Surveys unanimously and overwhelmingly place the chocolate chip cookie at the top of the all-time favorite cookie list for three-quarters of our population, and, it all started with the Toll House cookie.  Who do we thank and what's the history behind this iconic chocolate cookie?

Ruth_Graves_Wakefield-800x0-c-defaultRuth Wakefield.  Back in 1930, she and her husband Ken opened a restaurant along a heavily traveled road between Boston and New Bedford.  They named it the Toll House Inn, because it was originally the stopping point for colonial stagecoaches paying toll.  

Mrs. Wakefield was a Home Economist and Registered Dietition with excellent cooking skills and high-standards who paid attention to every detail of its operation -- including measuring the placement of the silverware on the tables.  Not surprisingly, due to her great food and excellent service, the Inn met with success in its very first year. Food critic Duncan Hines was particularly fond of her Indian pudding and Joe Kennedy Sr. loved her Boston Cream Pie.

What's the scoop?  Was the recipe REALLY a happy accident?

IMG_9699Fiction: As the story often gets wrongly told, Mrs. Wakefield found her pantry without the nuts she needed for a butter cookie she was preparing.  She did have a Nestle semisweet chocolate bar, which she chopped into small pieces (to substitute for the nuts), fully expecting the chocolate to melt through the dough as the cookies baked, resulting in chocolate cookies.  She was surprised to find that the chocolate pieces did not melt -- they remained in soft chunks.

Fact:  As a well-seasoned professional Mrs. Wakefield often experimented with cookie recipes and continued testing until she got exactly what she wanted.  Years later, Mrs. Wakefield told a reporter she was indeed working on a recipe that involved adding bits of chopped chocolate to her Butterscotch Nut Wafers.  Her "Chocolate Crispies" became a fast favorite with her customers.  After a Boston newspaper printed her recipe in 1938, the sale of Nestle chocolate bars skyrocketed in the Boston area.  Shortly thereafter, Nestle began manufacturing the semi-sweet morsel.  In 1940, Nestle bought the recipe from the Wakefield's and printed her recipe on the back of their semi-sweet chocolate morsel package, where it remains today.  Here it is:

IMG_96152 1/4  cups all-purpose flour

1  teaspoon baking soda

1  teaspoon salt

1  cup butter, at room temperature, very soft (2 sticks)

3/4  cup granulated sugar

3/4  cup firmly-packed dark brown sugar

1  teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2  large eggs

12  ounces Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1  cup chopped nuts (optional) (Note:  My mom adds 1 extra cup of morsels to the mixture in place of nuts which is why her version of this beloved recipe is our family's favorite.) 

IMG_9622 IMG_9627 IMG_9633 IMG_9637~Step 1.  In a small mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

IMG_9646 IMG_9641~ Step 2.  In a large bowl, place the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract.  On high-speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs, about 1 minute.  Lower the mixer speed and gradually beat in the flour until a smooth, sticky dough forms.

IMG_9655~ Step 3.  Using a large rubber spatula fold in the chocolate morsels and optional nuts.

IMG_9667~ Step 4. Drop, well apart, by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.  

Note:  I use a 1 1/2" ice-cream scoop as a measure and line my IMG_9684baking pans with parchment paper.

IMG_9672~ Step 5. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 9-10 minutes, or until puffy and lightly-browned.  If you like your cookies a bit chewy, do not bake them until golden.

 Remove from oven, transfer to rack & cool completely.

IMG_9680The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe:  Recipe yields 5 dozen cookies.

Special Equipment List:  hand-held electric mixer; large rubber spatula; 2, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; parchment paper;  1 1/2" ice-cream scoop; cooling rack 

IMG_4618Cook's Note:  With the New Year's holiday on our doorstop, if you're looking for another chocolate confection with a rich retro history, click into Categories 6, 11 or 26 for ~ Not just any chocolate will do:  Toblerone Fondue ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2015)

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