My Perfectly Imperfect Nostalgic Chocolate Chip Cookie [Recipe]

[Warning: this post may induce intense cookie dough cravings. Read at your own risk.]

The other week I was seriously craving some cookie dough. Like, Cookie Monster craving. I could have eaten an entire batch if it was before me at the time. I have no shame in admitting this because I know some of you have likely had a similar craving!

Cravings happen. You know you want to eat some of this…

Fortunately for my waistline, I didn’t make the cookie dough then and there. But, I did start thinking about my favourite chocolate chip cookie that I have ever made. I landed on one particular recipe. It’s from a cookbook that I grew up with, and this became a nostalgic recipe for me. This recipe is probably one of the first cookie recipes I made when I was younger (that I recall), and I made it many times.

My Mom has the original copy of the cookbook that I grew up with, and my Grandma had a copy too. This is that exact copy, I inherited it a few years ago. It is a cookbook collection of recipes from my elementary school, back in the day. I believe it was a fundraiser item, back when cookbooks were a popular community fundraising method. The idea is that everyone contributes a favourite recipe.

Ryan Moonie contributed this recipe. I have no idea who he is, but I often wondered. His name was next to the recipe, like another ingredient on the page.

I have many memories associated with this cookbook: I remember pulling up a chair to my Grandma’s counter when helping her bake. As I grew, I didn’t need a chair anymore, my baking training wheels were off.  Then, eventually I was running the show. I just told Grandma I was going to bake some cookies, and her and Grandpa were happy to enjoy them. Mostly Grandpa though. He would come by to sneak a sample, wearing his gumboots before heading out to do some yard work, and exclaim with delight how great the cookies were. Happy times.

Like everyone who loves to bake, there is some point of inspiration that seeds your passion.  You may not remember the exact moment, but I know this is one of the cookbooks that excited me the most. There are many others, but this is the one I want to share today.

Before I share the recipe though, I have to share a confession. As I made these cookies for the first time since going to Pastry School, they are no longer a perfect cookie to me. They are completely imperfect. If I came across this recipe online somewhere today, I probably would flip past it. There are so many things I would like to change about this recipe, from the ingredient ratios to parts of the method, but in the end, I realized something HUGE: I didn’t actually want to change a thing.

 I believe now, whole-heartedly, that some recipes should stay perfectly imperfect. The ingredients are all correct, as far as the chemistry goes, the chocolate chips and strong oat flavours are there, vanilla, a hint of caramel from the brown sugar and all the butter. So much butter. They look like cookies. Bake like cookies. They taste like cookies. And I grew up loving this cookie. It was the best cookie ever. I LOVED making them. Why should I change the recipe now?

So, here is the recipe, with full disclosure before you try it for yourself: You may or may not like them (same with any recipe though). BUT I will say this, the batch I made last week has disappeared from my kitchen… and they sure did not end up in the garbage!

I invite you to try this recipe and tell me what you think.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (yield 4 to 5 dozen, teaspoon size cookies)
Our Favourite Recipes Cookbook, 1988 Edition, Langley Meadows Elementary School
Recipe Author: Ryan Moonie

1 c. butter  (I grew up using margarine, but butter is better!)
3/4 c. brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 c. white sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. boiling water
2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. chopped nuts (we always used walnuts)
3/4 c. chocolate chips

METHOD – Beat the butter until soft. Add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add vanilla. Add flour and salt and mix well. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Blend into mixture. Stir in the rolled oats, nuts and chocolate chips. Roll into balls and flatten with a fork dipped in cold water. Bake at 350F for 10 – 12 minutes. Yields 4 to 5 dozen.

MY ADDED TIPS FOR THIS RECIPE:

  1. Measure all your ingredients ahead of time. Normally I would say to preheat your oven, if you’re going to bake them right away, but I didn’t bake them until the next day (see tip #7)
  2. The yield is not 4 to 5 dozen. Let’s get real people! I have never honestly found a cookie recipe yield that is accurate , because my cookies are life-size cookies, not dollhouse cookie size. This recipe actually yields more like 2 – 3 dozen, depending on how much dough you eat. There. I said it. I know it happens! Don’t judge.
  3. There is no rolling of dough here, the scooping happens with two spoons (like I did when I was little), or now, I used a cookie dough scoop, and it will be messy if you scoop right away. The scoop helps make all the cookies even in size.
  4. Baking time is still about the same, but after about 7-8 minutes I rotate the cookie sheet, to make sure the cookies bake with even heat in my oven.
  5. Semi-sweet chocolate chips are the way to go. They pair so well with that walnut taste. You could use any other kind of chocolate or nut, but this is my childhood flavour combination.
  6. Personally, I would reduce the amount of butter next time and just whip it longer it, to make a better textured dough. And I would likely make these in my stand mixer.
  7. I chilled my batter before scooping which made it easier to scoop. The dough was super soft and I wanted to let it rest. You can do that. You don’t always have to bake cookies immediately!

    TOP TIP: you can make dough, scoop it onto a tray and freeze it. Then store the dough balls in a freezer bag after. Then you have ready-to-bake cookies whenever you want (no mixing required, just turn on the oven and bake). Pilsbury-style, but better.

  8. Use a mix of quick oats and real rolled oats. The quick oats help bind the dough a bit more, and the real rolled oats give better texture in the final cookie. I think we used mostly quick oats when I was younger, which is partly why my dough was so soft this time around.
  9. Something to watch for:  My favourite part, as a kid, was mixing the boiling water and the baking soda. I was watching a chemical reaction happen as the baking soda reacted with the moisture of the water. The rest of the action happens when its added to the batter, when the soda reacts with the acid in the brown sugar. This is baker’s chemistry. 

Lastly, because this was such a nostalgic recipe for me, I chose to make them like I did originally: by hand. No stand mixer. I did the creaming, the mixing, the stirring all by hand. Because sometimes the mixing is the fun part. Why let your stand mixer have all the fun? You can feel the texture of the cookie as it comes together.

Here is a photo summary of my trip down cookie-memory-lane.

Enjoy!

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