Chocolate-chip cookies, any way you slice them

Growing up, friends’ mothers would often serve those Pillsbury slice and bake chocolate-chip cookies. Icky sweet, with no  texture, no chew–I never really cared for this version.

That may be because my mother served something utterly different; something those refrigerated, pre-packaged wads of shortening and sugar only wished they could be.

Cookie Brittle.

A cross between a chocolate chip cookie and a crisp shortbread, Cookie Brittle is the chocolate chip cookie’s sophisticated cousin. The recipe came from a 1970s magazine advertisement for Nestle® Toll House® semi-sweet morsels (what a mouthful), but it quickly became the house cookie at 86 Ralph Chapman Road. They are a snap to make and, although they are so simple, they dress up pretty nicely. They are equally good with and without the nuts.

I do, however, make my own version of slice and bake cookies, but these are the classic chocolate chip recipe, slavishly copied from the Silver Palate cookbook. While it is not my habit to follow a recipe exactly, this one is perfection and does not require any futzing.

Unless.

Okay, I’ve included the recipe for my Monster Chip version, created and named in honor of then-six year-old Gabe.

Anyway, it’s easy enough to make delicious tasting slice and bakes. Because my spoiled rotten children will only eat freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, I typically bake half the recipe and freeze the other half. Shape the raw dough into a log about two inches in diameter, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, then foil.  The dough will keep fine in the freezer for up to a few months, not that it ever lasts that long. The cookies can be sliced and baked directly from their frozen state.

Which is better? Why not make both? That’s what I did.

Cookie Brittle
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups flour
6 oz. chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine butter, vanilla, salt and blend. Beat in sugar. Add flour, chocolate chips, walnuts (if using), and mix well. Press evenly into ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan, lined with parchment paper. I cut the parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan, with an overhang on the two short side. Bake 25 minutes, until lightly browned. When cool, carefully lift the sheet of cookies onto a cutting board, using the parchment overhang as handles. Cut into small squares. Yield depends on the size of your squares. I get about 40 cookies.
 
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Silver Palate Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)

For Monster Chip cookies, add:
1 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease cookie sheet. Alternatively, you can use parchment or a silicone mat, such as Silpat. Cream butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Sift dry ingredients together and stir in, mixing thoroughly. Add chocolate chips to batter and form cookies by using an ice cream scoop or tablespoon. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transfering cookies to cooling racks. Yield: About four dozen cookies.

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