Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Science of Cookies
My daughter worked on her science project over the weekend. Thankfully, it did not involve an overflowing volcano. It did involve baking soda…

Her experiment was to see what the difference was between cookies that were baked using butter, margarine, and butter flavored Crisco. And, also to see which one would taste better.

I had my own theories as to how things would work out since I have read a number of articles either online or in magazines about which ingredient produces the best cookie. But, the difference with this experiment is that there were no other modifications to the recipe. All three were made the exact same way except for swapping out the butter, margarine, and Crisco. And, they were cooked for the exact same amount of time.

Her hypothesis that the butter would make the best cookie makes sense. Everything is better with butter. But I was still curious to see the results.

The biggest difference was visual. The Crisco cookie was a photo-ready cookie. It looked like the perfect chunky chocolate chip. The butter and margarine were not as visually appealing. They were kinda flat with chocolate chips sticking up. And the margarine cookie could have used more time in the oven to get a little bit more of the golden color.

The flavor difference was insane. The butter one, as expected, was the tastiest of the three and was crispy on the outside chewy on the inside. Margarine produced a very soft cookie with good flavor but you could tell it wasn’t a real butter flavor.

The butter-flavored Crisco was gross. It tasted like eating a spoon full of chemicals. Now, this may be because we went with the butter flavor. Maybe the regular wouldn’t be as bad? It is, after all, fantastic in pie crust. But, even then I go half Crisco half butter. And using Crisco in biscuits makes some super good biscuits. We were all a bit surprised at how bad that cookie was because it looked so good.

Now, to be fair, there are a lot of ways to make cookies without using butter. Sometimes margarine just makes a better cookie. The key is adjusting the rest of the recipe to get the flavor and results you are looking for.

While none of us were surprised by the fact that butter was the winner, what this experiment did was spark a conversation about ingredients and paying attention to what is in the food we eat. (Why exactly do those cookies that we buy look so good? Could it be the hydrogenated oils that were used to make them?)

And, as we sat there feeling superior in our newfound knowledge and determination to not eat the bad stuff, we ate a few more handfuls of the butter ones ‘cause we wouldn’t want them to go to waste!

So, below is the classic Toll House Cookie recipe from the back of the chocolate chips bag. And, if you wish, you can play around with proportions of butter and Crisco, or just take our word for it. And, here is a link to a recipe from King Arthur Flour that combines butter with shortening for a photo ready cookie.

Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the back of the chocolate chip bag.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (We recommend King Arthur Flour)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (We recommend Guittard.)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat your oven to 375º F.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. (Alternately, this can be done with a wooden spoon.)

Next, add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if using). Drop by rounded tablespoon onto un-greased baking sheets leaving plenty of room for the cookies to spread as the butter melts.

Bake the cookies until golden brown (about 9 to 11 minutes), turning the cookie sheets half way to ensure even cooking.

Cool on the baking sheets for about 2 minutes so they are easier to remove. Transfer the cookies with a spatula to wire racks to cool completely.

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