Today we celebrate chocolate chips, the star ingredient in an all-time favorite: chocolate chip cookies. May 15 has been designated National Chocolate Chip Day. Chocolate chip is the most popular cookie in the United States, accounting for more than 25 percent of cookies consumed. Of course, there are other uses of the morsels: ice cream, pancakes, brownies, cakes, scones, granola bars, trail mix and muffins; the list could go on and on. Sweets are not the only use of the confection. I have come across savory recipes and have prepared dishes such as chili and stews using chocolate chips. I even eat them as-is, right out of the bag. Don’t you?
So who invented chocolate chips? The inventor, Ruth Wakefield has New England roots. Born in Easton, Mass., she and her husband purchased The Toll House Inn, where the guests were served the meals she prepared.
According to www.women-inventors.com, “in 1930, Wakefield was mixing a batch of cookies for her roadside inn guests when she discovered that she was out of baker’s chocolate. She substituted broken pieces of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate, expecting it to melt and absorb into the dough to create chocolate cookies. That didn’t happen, but the surprising result helped to make Ruth Wakefield one of the 20th century’s most famous women inventors. When she removed the pan from the oven, Wakefield realized that she had accidentally invented chocolate chip cookies. At the time, she called her creations “Toll House Crunch Cookies.” They became extremely popular locally, and the recipe was soon published in a Boston newspaper. As the popularity of the Toll House Crunch Cookie increased, the sales of Nestle’s semi-sweet chocolate bars also spiked. Andrew Nestle and Ruth Wakefield decided to come up with an agreement. Nestle would print the Toll House Cookie recipe on its package, and Wakefield would be given a lifetime supply of Nestle chocolate. Due to this unexpected discovery by a famous woman inventor, the chocolate chip cookie became the most popular variety of cookie in America, a distinction it still holds to this day.”
It was interesting to find out that in the beginning, Nestle included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars, making it easier for the cookie baker to break up the chocolate bars. It was in 1941when chocolate was sold in chip or morsel form.
Semi-sweet was the original flavor of chocolate chips. Today they are available in bittersweet, semi-sweet, white chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white and dark swirled. There are variations, too; butterscotch, peanut butter and peppermint, appearing just in time for Christmas holiday baking.
Fans of the television show “Friends” know that food is often featured on many episodes. You might remember when Monica tried to persuade Phoebe to share her grandmother’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. You will get a good laugh here.
And now it’s time to celebrate National Chocolate Chip Day by baking chocolate chip cookies, enjoying them, and passing some out to family, friends and co-workers. What a chocolatey way to celebrate a holiday!
My friends, the experts from the Tastings and Testings Department at America’s Test Kitchen, were happy to share these recipes with us. Their signature recipe headnote “Why This Recipe Works” always provides helpful information. And here is the recipe for oatmeal fudge bars.
Why This Recipe Works: “There’s no question that the chocolate chip cookie is the most iconic American treat. While both crispy cookies and cakey ones have their place, we wanted a version reminiscent of the classic Toll House cookie, one with crisp edges and a chewy interior. But perhaps nostalgia has clouded our memory, because the Toll House recipe actually produces cookies that are a bit cakey and wan. We wanted a reliably moist and chewy cookie with crisp edges and deep butterscotch notes. The key ingredient was browned butter. Melting the butter made its water content readily available to interact with the flour, thus creating more gluten and a chewier texture. Continuing to cook the butter until it browned contributed deep caramel notes, as did dissolving the sugar in the melted butter. Using two egg yolks but only one white added richness without giving the cookies a cakey texture. Studded with gooey chocolate and boasting a complex toffee flavor, these are chocolate chip cookies, perfected. Light brown sugar can be used in place of the dark, but the cookies won’t be as full-flavored.”
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in bowl.
Melt 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue to cook, swirling skillet constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer browned butter to large bowl and stir in remaining 4 tablespoons butter until melted. Whisk in brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, and salt until incorporated. Whisk in egg and yolk until smooth and no lumps remain, about 30 seconds.
Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans, if using.
Working with 3 tablespoons dough at a time, roll into balls and space them 2 inches apart on prepared sheets. (Dough balls can be frozen for up to 1 month; bake frozen dough balls in 300 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes.)
Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, until golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft and puffy, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack. Let cookies cool completely before serving. Makes 16 cookies
Why This Recipe Works: Store-bought granola is often chock-full of pale oats and dried-out nuts and is underwhelming when it comes to dried fruit. We wanted to fix this by making our own granola at home, with large clusters and a crisp texture. The secret was to firmly pack the granola mixture into a rimmed baking sheet before baking. Once it was baked, we had a granola “bark” that we could break into crunchy clumps of any size. Coarsely chopped almonds, chopped dried cherries, and mini chocolate chips added a welcome crunch and sweetness — and we didn’t skimp on the amounts.
Do not use quick oats here. We prefer to chop the almonds by hand for even texture and superior crunch. (A food processor will chop whole nuts unevenly.) You can substitute an equal amount of slivered or sliced almonds, if desired.
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Spray parchment with vegetable oil spray.
Whisk oil, maple syrup, sugar, vanilla, and salt together in large bowl. Fold in oats and almonds until thoroughly combined.
Transfer oat mixture to prepared sheet and spread across entire surface of sheet in even layer. Using stiff metal spatula, press down firmly on oat mixture until very compact. Bake until lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking.
Transfer sheet to wire rack and let granola cool completely, about 1 hour. Break cooled granola into pieces of desired size. Stir in cherries and chocolate chips and serve. (Granola can be stored in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.) Makes about 9 cups
Passport to CT Farm Wineries began its season May 3. Collect a minimum of 12 stamps from each of the 40 participating wineries and the Connecticut Wine Festival in Goshen in July, through November 3 to be eligible for one of more than 60 prizes, including a two-week trip for two to Malaga, Spain. Passports are available free of charge at each participating location, and through a new downloadable “CT Farm Wine” app. More details at passporttoctfarmwine.com.
Surf & Turf Cooking Class: May 17, 6:30-9 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, $89. Reservations 203-799-2665. In this fun, hands-on class, you will enjoy exploring new twists on a classic pairing. Our instructor will walk you through techniques for creating a surf and turf dinner using the freshest, most flavorful ingredients from land and sea. You’ll work alongside other students learning secrets for grilling steak to perfection every time. Each student will also take home a small bottle of our Truffle oil. Menu: Bone in Ribeye with Lobster Butter, Crab Gratin, Cast Iron Carrots, Truffled parmesan polenta fries. Please feel free to bring your favorite bottle of wine or beverage to enjoy during this class. Tickets at https://bit.ly/2ZQ3HMR.
New Haven Food Truck Festival will be held June 1, noon to 7 p.m., New Haven’s Long Wharf waterfront. Features dragon boat races, wheelie competition, live music, kids’ activities and shopping. Free Admission; food and beverage are an additional cost. More info at streetfoodnhv.com/festival.
Consiglio’s Brunch Demonstration Cooking Class: June 1, 11 a.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $75 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included), https://bit.ly/2Nd0xAg. Menu: Italian Sausage Frittata with Scallions, Potato and Cheese; Homemade Ricotta on Garlic Crostini with Roasted Pepper Bacon Jam; Homemade Waffles with Fresh Fruit; Cannoli Crepes.
Sun BBQFest, June 1 (11 a.m.-10 p.m.) and June 2 (11 a.m.-5 p.m.), Mohegan Sun, 1 Mohegan Sun Blvd., Uncasville, $5 per days, $8 for 2-day ticket. Children under 6 free. Food and drink priced separate. Barbecue battles, food vendors, beverages, live music and cooking demonstrations. Saturday’s events feature a wing contest and a rib challenge, with an evening fireworks display. Schedule of events and info at https://bit.ly/2nECs8D.
Chefs of Our Kitchen (C.O.O.K.) Series: Francesco d’Amuri Chef and owner and his wife Allison De Renzi of L’Orcio in New Haven. June 5, 6 p.m., Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 203-285-2617, $65 includes pre-event reception and three-course dinner featuring classic Italian dishes from their award-winning restaurant, with wine pairings. Mingle with Chef Francesco and Allison at the reception and then watch the demonstration of the dishes being prepared as you enjoy dinner. Reservations required. Validated parking (bring parking ticket to event) at the Temple Street Garage. Proceeds benefit Gateway students, faculty and staff. Tickets and series information at www.gatewayfdn.org/cook-tickets.