Baking with My Kid
Chocolate chip cookies create family bonding
by Anna Thomas Bates
Each time I bite into a really good chocolate chip cookie, I think of my dad. At the merest hint that someone was craving a sweet, he would pull out the hand-mixer and a big bowl and put butter out on the counter to soften. He never used a recipe – just butter, brown sugar, flour, eggs, vanilla and chocolate chips. Sometimes he added oatmeal or peanut butter, sometimes cocoa or macadamia nuts.
We creamed, whisked, measured, stirred and talked. As the dough was portioned out and slid into the oven and the smell of baking cookies filled the kitchen, I licked the beaters clean. In between licks, our conversation would roam: homework and friends, a favorite story from his childhood, or some interesting bit of history he thought I should know. Then, finally, he poured a glass of milk and I’d bite into a still too-warm cookie, so soft it would break in half when you picked it up.
When I shipped myself out East for college, I periodically received a package in the mail that caused an uproar in my dorm. My father’s extra-large cookies arrived, individually wrapped, unscathed and decadent. I’m sure this is how I made most of my friends in college.
On my wedding day, my dad woke up early just to make chocolate chip cookies for my bridesmaids. There was always a reason for him to bake his signature cookies. My son isn’t yet two, but we already bake together. We decide what to make, take out bowls, whisks, measuring cups and spoons, and begin. He samples along the way: a pinch of flour here, a stray chocolate chip there. And yes, I let him lick the beaters. Eating dough is an intrinsic part of the experience, (we get our eggs from a small family farm up the road).
Baking together is a significant thing in my son’s world. He asks to make “dough” (what he calls cookies) or drags out a cookbook and points to the picture. Then I pull out the butter to soften on the countertop.
We talk. We learn new words. We figure out that four quarter-cups equal one cup. We watch the cookies puff and turn golden brown through the oven window. And at last, we bite into a still too-warm cookie as we drink ice-cold glasses of milk.
Psychologists (and Oprah) are pretty adamant that food does not equal love and that we should not fill an emotional void with calories. True enough, but sometimes there is nothing more nourishing to the soul than a perfect chocolate chip cookie made with someone you love.
I asked my dad to write down his recipe for me, and he said he couldn’t. He measures in pinches and handfuls and frequently changes his ingredient list. My son and I have taken his cue – while we opt for measuring spoons, we put our own spin on recipes. Our current favorite is a chocolate chip cookie with the nutty flavor of browned butter. Here’s one version of what we do.
Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups unbleached flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
Melt butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Whisking frequently, heat until butter turns golden brown (about 5-8 minutes). Let cool to room temperature.
In separate bowl, add sugars. Pour in brown butter and whisk until smooth. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
In separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and kosher salt.
Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture, and stir until just combined. Let mixture completely cool before adding chocolate chips (or they will melt). Fold in chocolate chips.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop 1/8 cup portions of dough onto cookie sheet and flatten slightly. Bake 8-10 minutes, until tops are set and bottoms are just turning golden brown.
This dough is best baked right away – if you need to chill the dough, let it come to room temperature for easier scooping.
Family Kitchen blogger, Brooke McLay loved this chocolate chip cookie recipe so much, she baked them with her own kids. Check it out!