I pad to the pantry and instinctively reach for my bright red apron, lined with checkered fabric and bow-topped pockets. The well-worn fabric forms to my torso as I throw the gingham ribbon around my neck, tie a bow in the back, and head back to the kitchen. My arms are full of fresh ingredients ready to be molded into a beloved family favorite. The recipe is sitting on the counter--my mom, in her classic cookie-loving fashion, has already set out the yellow Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe for me. As I set the brown sugar, salt, and baking soda down onto the kitchen island countertop, I notice one of my little brothers peeking in from above the bar. Do you want to help? He, of course, says he does, then he hops down from his watchtower. Who can resist the sweet smell of brown sugar and the promise of licking the bowl? I put him in charge of collecting the butter, milk, and eggs from the fridge as I plug in the shiny red Kitchen Aid.
KitchenAid mixers have been a staple in homes constantly filled with the smell of baked goods for decades. My family proudly displays our well-used mixer on the kitchen counter. Noah Adams, a National Public Radio host and correspondent, credits our ability to employ a KitchenAid mixer to Herbert Johnson, an engineer who invented the first industrial electric stand mixer in 1909. The handy stand mixer allows a baker to walk away while ingredients are automatically turned by the beater attachment. With a simple switch, delicious baked goods come together with ease! I feel spoiled by the simplicity of baking with help from our KitchenAid. Pulling the mixer close to me and twisting the bowl into its position, I turn to my brother and ask him if he wants some chips--chocolate chips, of course. He runs to the fridge to pull the bag out, hands it up to me, and patiently waits for a handful. While I pour a few into his small palms, I mentally go through the list of other ingredients.
The next step in the cookie-baking process is mixing up all the ingredients to form a delicious dough. True to the recipe printed on the back of an old chocolate chip bag, I mix up the wet ingredients, put the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, then combine the two together. For years, the original Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe has been loved by families everywhere. The history of the famous cookie has evolved into charming myths that give the baked good an enchanting origin. The most commonly shared cookie creation myth alleges that Ruth Wakefield, owner of the ever-popular Toll House restaurant, created the confection on accident. As told by The New Yorker writer, Jon Michaud, Wakefield ran out of nuts for another cookie recipe and substituted pieces of bittersweet baker’s chocolate, inadvertently creating America’s most beloved cookie. Though the myth has been disproven--Wakefield never would have allowed her restaurant to run out of nuts--I think about this story every time I bake chocolate chip cookies. While I use my silicone spatula to fold in the cup and a half of chocolate chips, I inwardly thank Ruth Wakefield for her wonderful invention that brings so much happiness to my family.
The final step: putting the balls of cookie dough into the preheated oven to be baked. As I open the oven and lean forward to slide in the cookie sheet, a wave of 375 degree heat hits my face. I let the heat warm me up for a few seconds longer--it’s winter and the kitchen is absolutely freezing--then close the door and set the timer. While I wait for the baking soda to fluff up the cookies until they’re a decadent golden brown, I step through the kitchen door and announce, the cookies are in the oven! My family gives an upbeat cheer of acknowledgement and I can’t help but smile. Baking can bring people together in a special and unique way, whether it’s through the process of creating something delicious as a pair or shared eye contact over soft bites of cookies still warm from the oven. Julie Thomson, author for Huffpost, explains that giving food to others is often a simple and effective way to show love. Putting effort into someone by creating something special for them shows an immense amount of care and thoughtfulness. At the same time, baking can be a beautiful way to express creativity. I use baking as both an expression of love and creativity. When words don’t work, handing someone a freshly baked cookie “baked with love!” can be worth more than a conversation.
Handing my family the plate of warm cookies filled with gooey chocolate chips--the best cookies ever--according to my little baking assistant, watching faces light up as little hands grab at the plate, and finally eating one myself softens my face into a grin and fills my heart with happiness. Maybe “fills my heart with happiness” is a bit dramatic to some, but to me, baking represents way more than the taste of the finished product. When I bake, I get a wonderful creative outlet and get to personally deliver a plate of glee to sugar lovers. If sweet treats can’t light up a room, I don’t know what can!
Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe - From MyRecipes.com
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz pkg.) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheets.
BAKE 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Adams, Noah. “KitchenAid Mixers Still Proudly American.” National Public Radio. NPR, 7 September 2009. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112620794. Accessed 3 December 2018.
Michaud Jon. “Sweet Morsels: A History of the Chocolate-Chip Cookie.” The New Yorker. Condé Nast, 19 December, 2013. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/sweet-morsels-a-history-of-the-chocolate-chip-cookie. Accessed 3 December 2018.
“Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies.” MyRecipes. MyRecipes.com. https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/original-Nestlé-toll-house-chocolate-chip-cookies. Accessed 3 December 2018.
Thomson, Julie R. “Psychologists Explain The Benefits Of Baking For Other People.” Huffpost. Huffpost, 31 March 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/baking-for-others-psychology_n_58dd0b85e4b0e6ac7092aaf8. Accessed 3 December 2018.