Memories of my childhood are saturated with the taste and smell of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. We ate them straight from the refrigerator, crispy on the outside and cold and slightly undercooked in the middle. My mom always kept them in the same round white tupperware and my recollection of the cookie’s smell is mingled with the plastic smell of that tupperware. Weird but still so comforting.
When I was a teenager, it became my job to bake a dozen chocolate chip cookies for my dad every Sunday night. He would distribute those cookies into little bags, pop them in the freezer, and pack them each day with his lunch to work. We all knew where he stored those cookies in the freezer, but we also knew far better than to steal any.
I’m fortunate enough to have married a man whose love for these cookies rivals my dad’s. We keep a handwritten version of my mom’s recipe taped to the inside of our kitchen cupboard, and a tupperware filled with flour, sugar, vanilla, baking soda and chocolate in that same cupboard so that the majority of the ingredients are ready to go when the craving strikes. Over the years my husband and I have refined our cookie-making process so it has become a dance: as I grab the dry ingredients, he places the butter in a glass bowl to soften in the microwave; he cracks the egg while I begin to stir; I start to scoop while he begins cleaning the mess. When we’ve been in the newborn phase for each of our three children, we did this routine virtually every night, the comfort of chocolate chip helping to compensate for sleepless nights and colichy afternoons.
These days I have a rule (or at least a goal) when we bake these cookies: I make just enough for one night’s dessert. Because the process of baking is just as pleasurable to me as the experience of eating, I don’t see the need to keep extras in stock, which would inevitably lure my husband into snacking on cookies all morning in lieu of breakfast, or force me to exert my willpower every time I enter the kitchen. And don’t get me started on the effort involved in trying to keep my kids’ little paws out of the cookie jar… But when we do choose to indulge, we go with chocolate chip cookies every single time. So I’ll prepare only one third of this recipe at a time (gets a little tricky with the egg but I’ll just whisk it up, use about a fourth, and save the rest for someone’s breakfast the next morning).
The chocolate chip cookies here are our traditional recipe, which I think started with my mom’s old copy of Betty Crocker Baking, and has evolved slightly over the years to suit our own tastes. I”ve also provided an option to add a surprise ingredient: a half-cup of tahini, recommended by Danielle Oron on Food52. Apparently, tahini lends itself to sweet recipes just as successfully as it does savory recipes. And I was sold on this variation at first bite: I didn’t think it would be possible to improve upon the recipe of my childhood, but I guess never say never… these cookies are ridiculously good. Like the best-tasting thing I’ve ever pulled out of my oven. The tahini helps cut the sweetness just a little, and adds a subtle depth to the flavor. You’d never be able to identify the flavor as tahini just by tasting the cookie, but you’d know you were eating something pretty amazing.
A few recipe notes:
- To soften the butter quickly without melting it, cut into into small pieces. Let it sit in the mixing bowl while you get out the rest of the ingredients, and by the time you’re ready, the butter will probably be soft enough.
- I like these cookies with extra vanilla and salt, which is reflected in the ingredients. You’re welcome to tone it down!
- I think the most important step is freezing the balls of cookie dough after you scoop them onto the baking sheet. This makes it so that when they cook, the outside gets a little crispy while the inside stays slightly undercooked (my personal goal because the one thing that’s better than chocolate chip cookies is chocolate chip cookie dough!).
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 cup 2 four-ounce sticks butter, softened
- 1 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup tahini
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces chopped very dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and tahini (if using) together. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix to combine. Add in dark chocolate; stir until just incorporated.
Scoop rounded tablespoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Pop cookie dough balls into the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and bake until light brown, 8-10 minutes. Cool slightly, then move to cooling rack.