Toll House Cookies

05/09/2013

 
This is the first of our recipes for children.  Whether you're a home educating parent, a doting uncle or aunt who wants to do some baking with the littl'uns, or just feeling a tad lazy, this is a recipe for you.

PictureRuth Graves Wakefield

The Toll House Cookie is better known around the world as the chocolate chip cookie.  The details are a matter of dispute, but what is beyond reasonable doubt is that Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts, invented them in 1930 using broken-up Nestlé chocolate bars.  The cookies became so popular that Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestlé in exchange for a lifetime's supply of chocolate.  Nestlé invented the chocolate morsel so home cooks wouldn't have to break up their chocolate bars, and the rest (as they say) is history.

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The method we're using today harks back to its invention.  We're using Nestlé dark chocolate buttons so that they can break up in the mixer the way the chocolate in the very first Toll House Cookie would have.  If you don't have a stand mixer, you may prefer to use chocolate chips.


Ingredients:

250g unsalted butter
170g brown sugar
170g castor sugar
200g chocolate buttons
130g pecans


2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
350g flour

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If you're cooking with children, the first thing to do is get organised.  (If you're not, it doesn't hurt to be methodical.)  First, put the two sugars in your mixing bowl.  Secondly, dice your butter.  Thirdly, put the nuts and chocolate in one bowl; and mix the flour, salt, and soda in another.  If your children are fairly young, we suggest you use bowls you can't break.

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Add the butter to the sugar, and mix using the paddle attachment.   Don't 'cream' them unless you want a very thin cookie.  Limiting the mixing stops them spreading too much and becoming one flat mass of conjoined cookies.

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Next, add the chocolate and nuts.  This is where we replicate the process by which the first chocolate chip cookie was made.  According to legend, the vibrations of a Hobart mixer knocked some Nestlé chocolate bars off a storage shelf into the cookie dough.  Mix them in so that the chocolate and nuts break up a little.

Now you can add the eggs, then the flour mixture, approximately one-third at a time.  (Pulse your mixer rather than just turning it on if you don't want a mess.)

Handy Tip: If you want to break eggs in one hand like a pro, make sure you crack them on a flat surface (not an edge) so that you don't end up with broken bits of shell in your cooking.
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You could put the paddle and bowl in the sink to be washed, but we don't like to waste a single crumb, so feel free to lick it as long as your eggs are safe to eat raw.  (The key to safe eggs is to wash their shells.)

Pre-heat your oven to 210 degrees Celcius.  (Any temperature between 200 and 220 should be fine.)

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At this point, turn out you dough onto a clean surface dusted with flour and knead sufficiently for it all to stick together.  This is a brief process.  You do not need to make it smooth.

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Cut off pieces and roll into logs to press out any air bubbles.

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If you have little helpers, they should be able to participate fully as long as you don't use a sharp knife.
 

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Put aside any excess logs and freeze for later.

(This recipe makes approximately 4 1/2 dozen cookies, so you can put some aside if you're feeling penitential, but we don't recommend it.)

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Cut your logs into small sections so that your little helpers can roll them (just like play dough) into little balls.  It's important to make them even in size.  As a guide, ours were approximately 20g in weight and 3-4cms in diameter.

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Make sure you space your cookies so that they cook evenly.  You can flatten them slightly with a fork if you prefer, but it's not necessary. The cookies will spread by themselves in the oven.

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Bake until they are golden brown (approx. 15 minutes).


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Allow the cookies to cool down a little on a wire rack before eating.  You don't want to burn your tongue!

You should now have enough cookies to fill a couple of cookie jars.

If you are using this recipe as a lesson for your children, you could do various activities relating to the history of toll houses and turnpikes.  At the very least, it's great fun getting out a map and finding Whitman, Massachusetts, the original home of the world-famous Toll House Cookie.
 


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