I didn't know you could buy pre-made cookie dough at the grocery store until I was probably ten or eleven years old. Even after that, I thought it only came in refrigerated chocolate chip cookie dough. It wasn't until years later that I noticed that there were dry mixes for cookies, too. Call it a sort of spoiled naïveté, I guess. I grew up making and eating homemade cookies.
Anyway, not too long ago, I was standing in line at the store and as I was loading up the conveyer belt with all my groceries, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation between the clerk and the woman ahead of me in line. The clerk had commented on the package of cookie dough the woman was purchasing and saying how great it was. The woman said something to the effect, "Yeah, I just don't have time to make them the old-fashioned way. I think I've only done it like once."
As I listened, I just wanted to write down my go-to recipe (since I have it memorized), hand it to the woman, and tell her that I can make a batch of them in around 20 minutes, including baking time. It wouldn't be in a braggy, know-it-all way -- I just wanted to help out and let her know that from-scratch cookie-making really isn't such a formidable task. Plus, homemade cookies are much, much better than the kind made from a tube of dough. At least I think so. I may be a little biased.
Not only do they taste better, but they're cheaper to make yourself. With the tubes and packages of cookie dough, you can spend up to 21 cents per cookie (that's for the new, all-natural dough put out by Pillsbury); to make an entire batch from scratch costs considerably less, maybe a $1, $2 at most, for a couple dozen cookies.
Another benefit of making them yourself is that you know exactly what goes in them. The refrigerated cookie doughs I looked up contained pretty standard ingredients, though a couple contained partially hydrogenated cottonseed oil (I try to skip any kind of hydrogenated oil, but especially cottonseed oil) and the ubiquitous and vague "natural and artificial flavor". Some, I'm sure are much more processed and have questionable (as in, "What is that?") ingredients in them. A couple years ago, there was a recall of all Nestle cookie dough due to E. coli contamination. This isn't really common, but food recalls do happen with processed foods. I like making things myself because I feel like I'm in better control of what my family eats, including treats.
Max thought it was hilarious to try to get into every picture.
And there's one big reason I prefer making homemade cookies -- it gets my son involved and comfortable in the kitchen. We started with cookies back when he was around 18 months old (even at that age, he would go to the pantry and start pulling out the ingredients we needed) and he's been helping me ever since. Now he's always at my side in the kitchen, whether I'm whipping up a batch of cookies, a loaf of bread, homemade pasta, or that night's dinner. I believe feeling comfortable in the kitchen and learning about food prep is an important skill for kids. Plus, I have so many good memories of working with my mom in the kitchen -- I wanted to pass that on to him.
If you Google chocolate chip cookie recipes, you'll get thousands upon thousands of results. Chances are, you already have your stand-by chocolate chip cookie recipe. But in case you're trying to get away from the pre-made stuff or just want to try a new recipe, I thought I'd share my current favorite recipe for classic chocolate chip cookies.
I used to have my tried and true recipe, but once I stopped using shortening, they were hit and miss. This was due to the temperature of the butter -- it would either be too hard or too melted. As a result, the cookies sometimes would be just right, other times they'd resemble pancakes. Then I came across this recipe on the blog, Smitten Kitchen, and I've been using it ever since. I like it because I get consistent results, plus it uses less butter, sugar, eggs, and flour than my old recipe. The yield isn't that different, either.
Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
this link from Free-Range Kids. I love it.). Mix, then add flour and salt. Mix again.
Silpat a couple posts ago? Well, here it is. You really should get one.
Bake the cookies for about 16-18 minutes, or until golden brown.