While prepping my shopping list for this year’s Christmas Cookie Bake-a-thon, I turned to my husband and asked him if he had any requests. He said he didn’t.
So, I pressed the point because apparently I had nothing better to do than be overbearing.
“Don’t you have a favorite cookie?”
“But you like cookies.”
“Well, yeah, of course I do.”
“So…I don’t know. What kinds of baked goodies do you remember from when you were a kid?”
“Um. I guess I don’t remember.”
Despite the many places I’ve lived, the many ways I’ve celebrated, and the many different moods of Christmases past, the one thing that has been constant and truly symbolic of the season has been the massive amounts of baked stuff that made its way into my life. Even in my little CHU in the middle of Iraq, I had a box of Christmas cookies.
There’s always a variety, sure, but at home–for better or worse–we kept it simple. My mom made exactly two jumbo batches of cookies: sugar cookie cutouts and…the star of the day…her “Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies.”
These cookies are the ones I have come to associate with every happy family Christmas memory I have. Starts with the taste of cookie dough on sticky fingers, then the smell wafting out of the oven, and finally with the sugar coma that inevitably ensues.
So worth it.
These are the only chocolate chip cookies I ever make. But no, there’s no secret family recipe or anything like that–it’s just the one from the Crisco can. We don’t like to overcomplicate things.
Mom swears that the real secret to her cookies is the fact that she uses Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (the ones in the silver bag) every single time. I won’t argue that. Although it still drives me absolutely nuts that, despite being corrected a hundred times a year, she still calls them, “Gardin-elly.” Mothers…
So, here’s the part where I tell you how I completely sabotaged everything. Obviously, I am now gluten free…so I use gluten free flour in place of all purpose. Thankfully, for things like cookies that don’t need to, well, hold much shape, you can get away with most “all purpose” blends. I have yet to find one that doesn’t work for these, though my go-to is now a blend of rice flour, potato starch, and tapioca flour. Anything that’s generally light in flavor is probably all you need. Then, there’s the shortening part. I am a firm believer in using shortening for cookies, as I much prefer the texture over butter-based cookies. Because I like to pretend like I’m a health freak, though, I have come to use organic shortening (I like Spectrum brand butter flavored shortening). Tastes just like Crisco and “organic” means it’s good for you. Fact.
OK, so I guess I’ve just been subbing some ingredients, so maybe I didn’t trash it up completely. BUT. I did add one little thing. Just one thing that made these cookies just a hint more moist, decadent, and rich. Believe it or not, all it took was just 1/4 cup of cream cheese to add such a subtle but noticeable difference. Not so much that it changed the recipe, just enhanced it.
Tastes like childhood.
Classic tender, gooey, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies.
- 1/2 c butter flavored shortening
- 1/4 c cream cheese, at room temp
- 1 1/2 c light brown sugar
- 2 T milk
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1 egg, at room temp
- 1 3/4 c all purpose flour or GF all purpose flour blend
- 1 t salt
- 3/4 t baking soda
- 1 c chocolate chips
- Cream the shortening, cream cheese, and sugar together with an electric mixer at medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Add the milk, vanilla, and egg. Beat for another minute.
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Bit by bit, combine the dry and wet ingredients until well blended.
- Stir in the chocolate chips.
- Drop by spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.