Hi all! There have been quite a few changes here at Thymetravelers! I regret to inform fans that Hand has quit the hand-modeling profession. I know, such a loss to the industry! In all honesty, I am very proud of Hand, who is off to become an amazing lawyer, and wish her all the best.
In the meantime, my less-than-wonderful apartment building decided to hike up rent. So, I have a new location, and new roommates! I am very excited to be living with Danielle and Erica, and they have already assured me that they will happily be guinea pigs for my concoctions (and perhaps consider hand-modeling).
I can’t feel at home until I bake something, and few things are more comforting than the smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. But where did these bites of deliciousness come from?
As we established in previous blogs, cookies have been around for thousands of years. Yet the chocolate chip is a far more recent ingredient. Remember, chocolate was not available to most of the world until the late 15th century, when Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World and “discovered” the cacao bean. Over the centuries that followed, chocolate was sold by bricks or bars.
The first chocolate chip cookie was invented in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield, who ran the Toll House Inn with her husband in Massachusetts. Ruth served meals and snacks to her guests, including a Colonial-era sugar cookie known as a “butter drop do.” One day, she decided to add chopped up pieces of a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar to her dough. Much to the delight of her guests, the chunks of chocolate did not melt into the batter, but rather maintained their shape. And so the chocolate chip cookie was born!
Ruth continued to bake her new concoction, and the recipe soon spread. Ruth eventually sold her cookie recipe to Nestle…according to rumors, the price was a lifetime supply of chocolate. Why, oh why didn’t I invent the chocolate chip cookie???
In the mid-1930s, Nestle began to pre-score its semi-sweet bars and included a chopping tool to help housewives break the chocolate into chips. Finally in 1939, Nestle invented the teardrop-shaped morsels we know today as chocolate chips. The rest is history!
Chocolate chip cookies remain an American staple today. In fact, the only cookie that rivals in popularity is the Oreo. Chocolate chip cookies have become more accessible to the masses through innovations in food production and entrepreneurship. At the grocery stores, consumers may choose from Entenmann’s, Chips Ahoy, and Famous Amos. Specialty companies, such as Mrs. Fields Cookies founded in California in 1977, offer products both at malls and online.
What started as a treat with humble origins has grown into a well-rounded industry. Crunchy or chewy? Cooled or a la mode? Cookie, cookie cake, or bars? Dark, white, or semi-sweet chocolate? With nuts or without? Coconut? Dried fruit? Your choice!
For further reading:
Coe, Sophie and Michael. The True History of Chocolate, Second Edition. Thames and Hudson: London, 2007.
Mercuri, Becky, “Cookies.” The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink, ed. Andrew Smith. New York, Oxford University Press, 2007 p. 156
Nestle’s (or should I say Ruth Wakefield’s) Toll House cookie recipe is delicious. As you have figured out by now though, I like to experiment whenever possible-and chocolate chip cookies provide endless opportunities. In the spirit of summer, I decided to go with fresh lemon. I also switched up the traditional cookie for a bar. Hope you enjoy!
Lemon Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (10-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Dark Chocolate Morsels (you can also use the traditional semi-sweet if you prefer)
1) Preheat oven to 375° F.
2) Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour baking soda, and salt.
3) Use a microplane to grate the lemon zest from the whole lemon. Cut naked lemon in half and squeeze juice into a bowl. Fish out any seeds before adding both the zest and juice to the dough.
4) Stir in chocolate chips. Pour dough into a greased 15×10 inch jelly roll pan.
5) Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
Great for dunking in tea, bringing on picnics or to the office, or my personal favorite, heating up and serving with ice cream!