Sunday, May 17, 2009

Ruth Wakefield, Toll House, and Respectful Enhancements.

My most cherished book is a 1941, fifth printing, of Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes. First published in 1936, Wakefield’s book immediately became a phenomenon, and continued on to infamy through thirty-nine printings. The Toll House cookbook influenced American cuisine at home in big ways and small, but the biggest of course, is the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. It’s difficult to imagine life without this classic cookie in it, but before the 1930s no such cookie existed.

Strangely enough, “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies” were not the star of the book, as the recipe is hidden way in the back on page 216. It’s written plainly, and sandwiched between recipes for “Chocolate Cookies” and “Cocoanut (Coconut) Strips”. I wonder if Ruth Wakefield could ever imagine the impact this cookie would have.

Being an American, I feel I have to tinker with a good thing. I’ve been toying with the Toll House recipe for years, not to change this important piece of history, but simply to enhance all the best of what is there. Below you'll find a scan of the Toll House recipe straight from the book, and my hopefully respectful enhancements to the iconic chocolate chip cookie. Or rather, the “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie”.

To better view the Toll House recipe, or any of the pictures, click the image and it will enlarge onto its own page.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup old fashioned oatmeal
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, soft to the touch
3/4 cups fresh light brown sugar, packed
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar (You won’t taste it, I promise.)
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups good quality all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts (Optional, but refer to notes for flour & chocolate changes.)
¾ of a 12 ounce package Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a nonstick skillet, melt 1 stick of the butter over medium heat until foamy and lightly golden brown. Pour into a bowl and wipe out the skillet. Place butter in the refrigerator and cool to about room temperature.

3. In the skillet over medium heat, toast the oatmeal stirring often until fragrant and some of the oatmeal is light golden in color. About 3 minutes. Transfer the oatmeal to a food processer and grind until fine and powdery. Set aside.

4. Spread the walnuts onto a plate and microwave in 30 second increments 2 or 3 times until toasted, stirring in-between. Let the walnuts cool slightly, and chop to desired size.

5. Mix in a stand mixer the softened butter, browned butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla extract, and vinegar into the and beat on slow to combine, and then on high speed until fluffy and lighter in color.

6. Add the eggs and mix until combined. Add the oatmeal and baking soda and beat for another minute. Next, add the flour half at a time and mix on low speed just until incorporated.

7. Add the chocolate chips and toasted walnuts. Mix on low until incorporated.

8. With a size 50 cookie scoop or a generous tablespoon, drop the dough onto parchment paper 3 inches apart.

9. Bake for 11 minutes or until golden around the edges. Remove from oven and let set on the cookie sheet for 3 minutes before moving to a cooling rack.

Makes about 45 cookies.

If omitting nuts, add 1/3 cup more flour to the batter and the whole bag of chocolate chips.
2. Cookies are best baked shortly after mixing the batter together. There is no need to refrigerate the dough.
3. These cookies freeze extremely well after they’re baked. You can take a few out at a time and microwave them. Or just let them thaw on the counter.
4. The plate of cookies was shot with a test batch that included coconut. If you want to try it, toast 2 Tablespoons sweetened coconut with the oatmeal.
5. The cookies were photographed on a 1930s Park Avenue luncheon plate by Anchor Hocking.

1. Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes.

Recipe changes, pictures, & write-up by Laura Flowers.


Ginger said...

Laura the cookies sound incredible. What is the vinegar for? It is definitely a secret ingredient.

Donna-FFW said...

Love the tribute to the book. How nice you cherish it so. I love your adaptations. I will have to try them. Always willing to try variations on chocolate chip cookies!!

Mary Bergfeld said...

I so envy you that book! Your cookies look wonderful.

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hi Ginger,

The vinegar supports texture and ups the richness factor a little.


Marta said...

What a lovely idea to recreate this American classic! I love those old cookbooks, they're just filled with nostalgia and tradition. I like your take on the recipe :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Thank-you Marta.

La Table De Nana said...

How I love old books and old photos and great recipes..
Love this post.Thank you~

Amanda said...

i have this book too, and you are so right, it's hidden! I don't know which version i have, but I found it at a thrift store a few years ago for 50 cents :)

The Cooking Photographer said...

Wow 50 cents! That's a killer find Amanda!

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

fyi - vinegar also tenderizes. As always, LOVE your photos!!!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Cool, thanks Butteryum.

Pink Little Cake said...

Ok, first question, why are you up at 2:30 am?? Thank you for the link for the caramel sauce. This cookies look yummy.

Jamie said...

Wonderful! And you are so right, this is truly iconic. Who can imagine life without these tasty beauties? Funny that the day I post my All-American Apple Pie recipe I find my sons' second all American favorite on your blog? I will most definitely try your recipe and I'll let you know what my in-house judges think!

Heather said...

Great plate. Nice cookies, too. :)

oneordinaryday said...

Wow. What an awesome find!

Sarah said...

One of my favorite go to recipes! I love the additions :) Sometimes the best recipes are the one that stand the test of time!

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer said...

What a wonderful book - These were the first cookies I learned how to bake when I was 4 years old - My Aunt taught me and many many years later they are still my very favorite!!

MJ said...

sounds great! who doesn't love some choco-chip cookies?!

pigpigscorner said...

The cookies look yummy! and with oatmeal?! yum yum! My favourites in one!

Veronica Miller said...

Girl, you have NO idea how frustrated I was with chocolate chip cookie recipes that all claimed to be "the best." I couldn't find any better than the Nestle Tollhouse recipe until I tried yours--and you didn't even try to hype them up! They are hands down the BEST chocolate chip cookies EVER. I will NEVER make another kind again...unless you somehow manage to improve your own recipe!

Pocketmole said...

I am just a random internet user on a quest to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled across this one and have been holding out to try it. Last night was the night. I baked these cookies and I can honestly say this is the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever made! With dozens of recipes in my little cookie arsenal, this one reigned supreme.

I couldn't tell you exactly what it is that made the cookies so divine, but they have a unique taste - slightly different that other chocolate chips cookies I've tried - and the texture was perfect. Immediately I packed up a few to-go bags for my boyfriend to take to the office to share amongst his co-workers, for fear we would gobble them all down ourselves in a few hours!

Thank you for the wonderful recipe!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Katherine thank-you so much for making these! I think you are one of 5 of us now. That's a very small club!! Thank-you for trusting me and for trying them. You made my day.


Sharon said...

What caught my attention most was actually the recipe book. I love old things in general because of its history. I've never come across a food blog that showed this side of recipes and cooking. I definitely want to give these cookies a try, they look absolutely delicious!

Veronica said...

I just wanted to come back to let you know I entered these into the Kansas State Fair this year and they won me a blue ribbon! So it's official. These really are the BEST chocolate chip cookies, at least in the land of Oz. :)

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