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It’s hard to improve on perfection. In the U.S.A. we try. You know, the whole “better mousetrap” idea. But there are some things that are better left “original.”
That fact was recently reconfirmed at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The 96th Farm Show was held in early January at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg. The show boasts 10,000 competitive exhibits, 300 commercial exhibits, and 6,000 animals. Into that mix enters 13-year-old Christopher Mrozinski. Christopher is the son of Michael Mrozinski and former Spring-Ford teacher, Paige Menton.
Christopher, who is a future “Dad in the Kitchen,” I’m sure, loves to bake. He also loves 4-H, and is involved with Montgomery County 4-H in Creamery, PA. That combination inspired him on the night before the Farm Show to bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. He got the recipe from the package of chocolate chips. You guessed it: Nestlé Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies. An American Original.
That’s not all. In fact, here’s the best part: he won a prize. In fact, First Place in the Youth Section of the Food and Nutrition competition of the Family Living Department! Way to go, Christopher! Christopher’s family screamed with delight upon learning of the win, and his first official act as First-Prize Winner was to call his grandmother and share the good news.
Christopher also won Third Place for his Double-Peanut Butter Cookies. That recipe is not quite as well known, and came from Kids Cookies, a volume of the Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library. I’ll share that recipe in a future post.
Christopher can’t wait for next year’s Farm Show. He plans to enter in as many categories as possible. Christopher’s award-winning Toll House Cookie recipe follows, but first the story of how the chocolate chip cookie came to be.
In the 1930’s Kenneth and Ruth Wakefield purchased an old toll house in Massachusetts. Dating to the beginning of the 18th century, the house had originally been a place for weary travelers to enjoy a home-cooked meal, change horses, and of course pay the road toll. The Wakefields decided to open a lodge and call it the Toll House Inn. Ruth baked for the guests who enjoyed meals at the inn.
According to Ruth, (as told by Nestlé), the inauguration of the chocolate chip cookie occurred when she was making her popular Butter Drop Do cookies and ran out of regular Baker’s Chocolate. She substituted broken pieces of Nestlé Semi-Sweet Chocolate, expecting them to melt. Instead the chocolate held its shape but softened to a creamy texture, and the legend was born.
The genesis of the Toll House Cookie is not without controversy, however. Wikipedia includes a story from the point of view of George Boucher, who was at one time the head chef at the Toll House Inn. Boucher disagrees with Nestlé’s claim that Ruth Wakefield put chunks of chocolate into her cookie dough thinking they would melt. He contends that she was an accomplished baker, familiar with the properties of chocolate, and knew the chocolate wouldn’t melt and mix into the cookie dough. Boucher says that the vibrations from a large Hobart mixer dislodged bars of chocolate stored on the shelf above, causing them to fall into the mixer and become broken up and distributed into the dough. Boucher is the hero (of course) in this version, as he convinced Ruth not to discard what she considered to be “ruined cookie dough.” The rest, as they say is “history,” at least according to Chef Boucher.
My dad used Hobart mixers at Latshaw’s Bakery, and I have to say that it would be almost impossible for chocolate bars to fall into their mixing bowl. Almost all of the open surface of the bowl is shielded by the mixer’s top, which contains the motor and gearbox. That top is also rounded and would have a tendency to deflect anything falling above it. I’m therefore a little skeptical of Boucher’s version.
On that happy note, here is the award-winning recipe from Christopher, a half-recipe, adapted from the Nestlé semi-sweet morsels package. It makes 18 large cookies:
Nestlé Toll House® Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all purpose flour
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter or margarine, softened
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup (6-oz.pkg.) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
- ½ cup chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Beat in egg. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes.
When I made Christopher’s recipe, I decided to try using my food processor to make the dough. It worked well, but I think I prefer my Kitchen Aid mixer. The food processor required a lot of stopping and scraping that the mixer does not.
I also decided to add the chocolate chips by hand, and left out the nuts. The dough was satiny smooth and the cookies were great!
I used parchment paper on my cookie sheets. Dad always used parchment for baking. It helps the cookies bake evenly and clean up is so much easier. You can find parchment paper in the grocery store’s wax paper and aluminum foil aisle.
Congratulations, Christopher! Keep us posted on your future baking successes!