Twenty people. Breezy July night. Garden-centric food and lots of wine. It’s the fool-proof recipe for our annual summer porch party.
Saturday was one of the best ever. We feasted on roast chickens with preserved lemons, purple potato salad, grilled yellow squash and a quinoa salad loaded with cucumbers, tomatoes and mint.
But the piece d’resistance had to be dessert: Giant chocolate chip cookies sandwiched around vanilla-caramel ice cream.
These are no ordinary cookies. They’re my mother’s chocolate chip cookies.
When I was a little girl, my mom scoured cookbooks and newspaper columns and grilled friends in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. She wanted a cookie with meltingly soft chips but one that held its puffy, pillowy shape. She tested countless recipes and finally settled on one from a neighborhood acquaintance.
Over the years, these cookies gained almost mythical status. Relatives demanded them at reunions. Coworkers asked for them at Christmas. Boyfriends reverently referred to them as “the cookies.” My brother was so enamored of them that he swore we’d know who he was going to marry if he ever asked my mother to share her recipe with some lucky girl. (One errant girlfriend found a way to finagle it out of my mother and was promptly dumped.)
I’m not quite so proprietary. I think everyone should enjoy my mother’s chocolate chip cookies. Over the years I’ve tinkered with the formula — subbing butter for the shortening; increasing the amount of brown sugar. But when I want a fat, round, salty-sweet chocolate chip cookie that will stand up to freezing and stuffing, this is the recipe I turn to.
Now you can, too.
My Mother’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sift together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer, beat 1 cup shortening with 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup brown sugar. Add 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla.
Add the dry ingredients and mix at low speed just until incorporated. Stir in 1 large package chocolate chips and 1 cup pecan pieces (if desired). Drop by tablespoons on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.
ONE LAST NOTE … My family and I are traveling back home to Mom’s in a week (where cookies will be waiting). Our plan is to drive the 1,000-plus miles without stopping at fast-food or chain restaurants. I’ll let you know how we do!