When the Chips Are Down: Bake
I am in some kind of deadlock with my son’s teacher over cookies. Usually I just ignore people’s sneers at always having a jar of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies. They are obviously jealous, because my chocolate cookies are a helluva lot healthier than caramel-coated rice crackers or whatever is passing for a healthy snack these days. And it's not my fault that all their kids want to come to my house for snack.
But teachers hold a lot of sway over young kids and my son is literally shaking when I throw in a couple of cookies into his snack bag. His teacher seems very concerned that the kids have snack for both morning and afternoon recess and double-checks their bag each day. She has even kept my son in for recess because he didn’t have snack which was total overkill. That kid was lucky he even had a jacket and lunch because that was during our Swine Flu Central period a couple of weeks ago and there were no groceries in the house until I was partially recovered.
All this to say that my chocolate chip cookies are healthy. A lot healthier than chocolate-dipped granola bars, fruit twizzlers and rice cakes. That is the thing with the chocolate chip cookie, you can hide other stuff in there and no one notices. Now, I am not going all Jessica Seinfeld on you (read my post on my other blog to see how I feel about that technique), I use the recipe from my book Whining and Dining but I have altered it so I just use whole wheat flour and throw in whatever seeds I have around to boost the nutrition.
So I emailed the teacher (technology is so good!) and told her in very polite terms to lay off scaring my son. In fact, sometimes I think that those cookies are the healthiest part of his day… but she doesn’t need to know that. (And yes, I know they have flour and butter and sugar, I’m not saying that they are a good stand in for food, I’m just saying that for a cookie they are pretty good, and if they are a stand-in once in a while I can live with it.)
Just in case you have a trivia game in your future, here is a little background on the humble chocolate chip cookie, which makes up half of all home-baked treats in North America. We can thank Ruth Wakefield, who owned the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts for the idea of chocolate chip cookies. She cut up chunks of Nestle's Semisweet Yellow Label Chocolate bar and added them to a butter cookie dough. The Nestle company discovered her delicious cookie and made a deal for the rights to her recipe. But the idea of pre-packaged chocolate chips did not occur to Nestle until 1939 when they started selling chocolate morsels in the famous yellow bag and added the Toll House Cookie recipe on the back, where it remains today. But it’s not the best recipe: mine is. Or for the tastiest, beat the bake sale table kind, check out Alton Brown’s cookies, and sub in Smarties.
Wee Bit Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookies(from Whining and Dining: Mealtime Survival for Picky Eaters and Families Who Love Them)
Baking cookies isn’t such a chore, and the kids do love to get into it with you. But cleaning up after them is a bit of a chore so sometimes I bake at night and then eat some straight out of the oven.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour or whole wheat flour or a combo
1 cup oatmeal
½ cup wheat germ
¼ cup chia seeds (sold under brand name Salba) or flax (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
1 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine flour, oatmeal, wheat germ, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Add flour mixture into butter mixture and beat until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips and cranberries.
Use a tablespoon (or cookie scoop) to scoop walnut size balls of dough, place about 2” apart on prepared baking sheets and flatten slightly.
Bake cookies, one baking sheet at a time, for 15 minutes or until cookies are pale golden and just firm to the touch. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes or until firm and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 36 cookies