Pretty Much Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Happy Birthday to me! I wanted to share this post on this day since I think of my mom even more on this day. She always made birthdays special, along with just being a wonderful mom. Thinking of you, Mom, and the signs you used to post around the house on my birthday reminding me what time I was born, my many family nicknames, etc., the desserts you would make (picked out by the birthday person), the special dinner meals you made (picked out by the birthday person), the thoughtful gifts you would give, and the time spent together (shopping days and buying lunch out!).

My mom–a few years younger than I am turning. 🙂

My dad and I from a previous birthday. He does a pretty good job being both dad and substitute mom! Hehe.

Now onto the cookies!!

I had to include my husband K, who does “his darndest” to keep my birthdays happy. And he does love his cookies…(ignore the bread in the background, which may be part of a future post)

Just a quick note…I recommend this other recipe now in 2016.

Chocolate chip cookies mean a lot of things to many people. I know there are some weirdos out there who don’t like them… (maybe I can convert them?), but at the heart of a chocolate chip cookie is the idea that it is from home. All things cozy and comforting. My mom made us chocolate chip cookies every year for the first day of school. Every year there was the thought that maybe she wouldn’t this year, she was really busy at work, lots going on at home…even though she did it regularly, I didn’t want it to be an expectation, but a wonderful surprise. Usually in the hubbub of a new school year, there was enough to think about besides cookies. Walking up our huge hill in the neighborhood (if we were lucky my mom beat us home and could drive us up) from our bus stop and seeing the familiar tin on the kitchen table was an awesome feeling. You felt loved and cared for, even after a tiring first day.

My mom continued to make cookies even when my brother left for college–she put some in containers and packed them in with his stuff. He didn’t even notice initially, but apparently all of his dorm mates became quick friends! I had a friend who would come home on the bus with me after school and we would do homework/hang out/swing dance (the usual activities of all 9th graders, yes?) until her mom could get her after work. That first day of school became a big deal to her too after finding out about the cookies.

The recipe never changed–it was always the Tollhouse one. My mom was a pretty good baker, but even better as a cook. To be honest, her cookies were not perfect. The bottoms were usually fairly dark, if not burnt, and I always wanted more chocolate in mine, but that wasn’t the point. They were “Mom’s cookies” and we didn’t want any others. When I went off to college, my mom again sent me with cookies, every year. When I graduated, I became a teacher and had to stay at home for a couple years to save up before buying a house. I still had first days of school, and my mom still gave me cookies. By this point, she wasn’t doing so well health-wise, and I would always tell her that she didn’t have to make the cookies, but she never forgot and always made time. I could come home, enjoy a cookie or two while talking with her at the kitchen table before running off to do homework (even as a teacher, ugh!).

When my mom passed away, I still made the Tollhouse recipe, but I would mix it up some. Change the ratios of sugar, use less butter, more flour, etc. My dad really liked them and the highest compliment was saying that they were better than my mom’s (he would eat some of the first day of school cookies, too). I hope to make cookies for my future kids someday, just like my mom did. She taught me that it’s not about always having the perfect recipe or result, but the love and care that goes behind the cooking and baking.

No cookie is ever perfect, especially because everyone has different likes in a cookie. Some want chewier, some want thinner, etc. Since I started playing with the Tollhouse recipe, I have found other recipes I like, too, including the America’s Test Kitchen brown butter ones and the thousand layer cookies from The Newlywed Cookbook. My favorite kind of cookie that is almost perfect is chewy, a little thick, chocolaty, and it has a nice butter/vanilla background flavor. One thing that keeps these cookies from being perfect is it makes less than 2 dozen average sized cookies, or just under 1 dozen large. I want more!

I am making another batch of cookies to send back home, for father’s day, and for a friend’s birthday. This time I decided to mix it up a bit and I am sharing my version below.

I recommend using whatever chocolate you like best–usually a little darker since cookies are naturally sweet. I like to vary the chocolates for added mouth happiness:

Directions for Pretty Much Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

(adapted from The Newlywed Cookbook and Tracey’s blog)

  • 285 grams flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz chocolate, chopped
  • 1.5 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a splash of my homemade, but added in an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder for more vanilla flavor)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Brown the half stick of butter in a saucepan while you are creaming the sugars and remaining butter in a mixer on medium.

Mmmm. Brown butter!

Add the brown butter to the mixer when ready.

Once it has a smooth consistency, have the mixer on low and add in 2 egg yolks at a time. Add in the vanilla, still mixing on low.

Still on low, add in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Using a spatula, make the dough into one ball. Separate into thirds (you can use a scale to help). Form each piece into a rectangle about the size of a postcard (4×6 inches) then wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

I use my silicone pan liners to do this so it’s less messy. Have a biscuit cutter ready–you can do 2 inches for a bigger cookie,

or 1.5 inches for a more normal cookie-box sized cookie.

Have a pan lined with parchment or silicone to put the cookies on when you cut them out.

You will take one piece of dough and pile half of the chocolate on top. Then, put a second piece of dough on top of that, and put the rest of the chocolate as the next layer before covering with the final piece of dough. Try to smush the sides in a bit to keep the chocolate from falling out too much. Using your hands (or a rolling pin if you’d rather), flatten out the tower until you get it to be an even 1-2 inches in height.

Then, use your cookie/biscuit cutter to cut out as many cookies as you can. When you can’t cut anymore, ball the dough back up, and flatten out again to the same height. Continue until all of the dough is used. It’s ok if the chocolate doesn’t remain in the same even layers–trust me!

After all of the cookies are on your cookie tray, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, but I prefer a day or two.

When ready, bake at 375 degrees. Check around 10 minutes, but it could take up to 14 if the cookies are bigger.

Let cool then enjoy!

Directions for Pretty Much Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies without pictures

(adapted from The Newlywed Cookbook and Tracey’s blog)

  • 285 grams flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 oz chocolate, chopped
  • 1.5 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used a splash of my homemade, but added in an extra 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla powder for more vanilla flavor)

Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Brown the half stick of butter in a saucepan while you are creaming the sugars and remaining butter in a mixer on medium. Add the brown butter to the mixer when ready. Once it has a smooth consistency, have the mixer on low and add in 2 egg yolks at a time. Add in the vanilla, still mixing on low. Still on low, add in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.

Using a spatula, make the dough into one ball. Separate into thirds (you can use a scale to help). Form each piece into a rectangle about the size of a postcard (4×6 inches) then wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

I use my silicone pan liners to do this so it’s less messy. Have a biscuit cutter ready–you can do 2 inches for a bigger cookie, or 1.5 inches for a more normal cookie-box sized cookie. Have a pan lined with parchment or silicone to put the cookies on when you cut them out.

You will take one piece of dough and pile half of the chocolate on top. Then, put a second piece of dough on top of that, and put the rest of the chocolate as the next layer before covering with the final piece of dough. Try to smush the sides in a bit to keep the chocolate from falling out too much. Using your hands (or a rolling pin if you’d rather), flatten out the tower until you get it to be an even 1-2 inches in height. Then, use your cookie/biscuit cutter to cut out as many cookies as you can. When you can’t cut anymore, ball the dough back up, and flatten out again to the same height. Continue until all of the dough is used. It’s ok if the chocolate doesn’t remain in the same even layers–trust me!

After all of the cookies are on your cookie tray, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours, but I prefer a day or two. When ready, bake at 375 degrees. Check around 10 minutes, but it could take up to 14 if the cookies are bigger.

Let cool then enjoy!

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9 thoughts on “Pretty Much Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

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  7. Alyssa – I love this post. What a tribute to your mom. You were/are really lucky to have had a mom like that who gave you so many memories and made you know you were loved. She was a very pretty lady and you look a lot like her (from what I can tell).

    Her chocolate chip cookies sound perfect to me though it’s definitely the intention behind them that make it extra special.

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