Christmas Cookies 2011, Recipe #6 – Faux Mrs. Fields’ Chocolate Chip Cookies (or The Ones That Crowned Me “Cookie Mom of the Cul-de-Sac”)

Are you tired of seeing cookie recipes every time there’s a new post on this blog lately? Well, I’m a little tired of posting them, but then I knew that I had to get all six recipes on as soon as possible or they might not all get posted. I’d get distracted by other goodies I wanted to write about, share. That’s just me. A little driven about a few things. Anyway, this IS the last of the recipes for the cookies baked for Christmas 2011 and it’s a fabulous, kid-tested one.

I swear these are the ones that got me dubbed “Cookie Mom” of our street many years ago, by the only “dubbers” who matter – the kids. I have a distinct memory of doling out still-warm, chocolate-chip tummy-fillers to our son Adrian and buddies one afternoon (not that Kristen and friends didn’t appreciate them too). It only took one shout of “Anyone up for a cookie or two?” to get Ade, Jason, Jamie and Eric running to our front stoop, where I offered a plateful. It might’ve been Jason who, eagerly munching on one, commented, “I think you’re the Cookie-Mom of the street, Mrs. Day.” If I was the Cookie Mom, then I guess they were the Cookie Monsters!

Is there anything better than a just-out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie? Softened chocolate bits nested within lightly-browned dough that gives at the slightest fingertip pressure. Mmmm. I grew up on the Freihofer chocolate chip variety, which were the closest to home-baked Toll House chocolate chip cookies you could buy in our area (my mother wasn’t much of a baker, except for cakes from box mixes, so all our cookies were purchased – luckily, often from Phil’s bakery, barely half-block away!). I’ve tried out a number of variations on these treats since beginning to bake on my own decades ago, and there haven’t been many without at least some good points. But this recipe, which allegedly went around the world touted as the “real” Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie recipe, is my #1 choice. Of course, months after the recipe had probably circled the globe a dozen or more times, Mrs. Fields denied that it was her recipe. I remember buying Mrs. Fields cookies in New York City when there on business back in the ’80s and, bringing them home (couldn’t find them upstate back then), I noticed a statement on the bag saying that, “contrary to rumor,” Mrs. Fields had never sold the recipe to anyone. Who cares if it’s the “real” one, as long as the results are heaven to the taste buds?

I used to rationalize away the fact that I could devour so many of these in one afternoon: there’s oatmeal in them, so they must be healthy, right? Well, I’m not sure that’s truly the case if you’re processing the oatmeal into a flour type consistency. But no matter – they taste good and, if you follow the “moderation in everything” philosophy that helped me to lose almost 20 pounds over a one-year period (although I’d like to “moderate” away another 10-pounds-worth!), then just eat one or two a day along with a wholesome diet (there’s another aspect to that dietary plan: don’t beat yourself up too much if you slip up once in a while either!).

I like them best when just baked and still warm. Still lovin’ them for days afterward. When stored in an air-tight container, they’ll last quite a while. Even if the kids (or adults) leave the top ajar by mistake and they get a bit hardened, just dip ’em in milk or coffee or hot chocolate for a yummy snack!

The original recipe was double this one. I cut it in half and made a couple other changes recently; the “changes” are noted in the recipe itself, but for clarification:

  • One thing I did check ahead of time was whether or not I could substitute whole wheat flour for some of the all-purpose stuff. For that information, I sought out one my newer cookbooks, Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains by the King Arthur Flour folks (Countryman Press, 2006). According to King Arthur (I do like writing/saying that… sounds so mythical, mystical!), “Hard whole wheat flour [either traditional whole wheat or white whole wheat] is the equivalent of all-purpose flour: good for anything from cookies and brownies to sandwich bread and pizza crust.” Also according to The King, “Adding all-purpose flour to traditional whole wheat flour lightens the color and texture, and increases the rise of whatever you’re baking.” Not surprisingly, when I did the reverse of that, adding white whole wheat flour to all-purpose made the cookie color and texture a little less “light” but not at all to its detriment.

  • Subbing some whole wheat flour also seemed a good idea healthwise. King Arthur notes that whole wheat flour is higher than all-purpose flour in protein, fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium. Sounded pretty good to me!
  • The other change I made this time around was necessitated by a change in the marketplace: I can no longer find 8 oz. Hershey bars (which I would’ve had to halve anyway), so I bought a multi-pack of 6 oz. bars and used one of them (well, I might’ve nibbled a little but still used more than 4 oz. – who was going to argue with more chocolate in a cookie?).

Speaking of the mythical, mystical – how about the magical? It’s been a while since I got into any of the “witchy” aspects of food, but seems like as good a time as any. I was curious, so I consulted my handy-dandy Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen (by Scott Cunningham, Llewellyn Publications, 2003; originally printed as The Magic in Food, 1990). Here’s what I found: “Whole wheat is best for magical (and nutritional) purposes… Though white bread was eaten by the Roman upper class, it’s a spiritually dead food.” Cunningham advises readers to eat wheat-based foods (bread and all dough products) to bring prosperity and money into their lives. Now, for my gluten-free friends – if they’re looking for prosperity, I’m sure there are other food energies that might help (if you believe in these things, although it certainly can’t hurt when it’s good-for-you items!). Just baking the cookies, I would think of the roundness as a symbol for wholeness (also whole wheat triggers something for me) – isn’t that what we’re all striving for:  to be whole and healthy? That’s prosperity of a sort, a much-desired abundance.

Maybe this recipe should be called Ms. Anybody’s Magical Chocolate Chip Cookies but, for consistency’s sake, I’ve simply added the “faux” to the original title – and provided details for making cookies the kids and whole family will love.

FAUX MRS. FIELDS’ CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Yields 75-80 cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter (salted or unsalted- doesn’t seem to matter)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar (dark brown will work too, for a slightly different taste)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups flour (1 cup all-purpose & 1 cup white whole wheat; original recipe called for all all-purpose)
  • 2½ cups oatmeal (I used quick-cooking oats) – measure oats first, then use blender or food processor to process it into flour-like consistency)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (I use table salt for this one, not sea or kosher)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 12 oz. bag of chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet but type is your choice)
  • 1 6oz. Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, grated (original recipe called for 1 8 oz. bar for the recipe that was double this one – lots of luck finding one!)
  • 1 ½ cups chopped nuts (I use walnuts but have, as Mrs. Fields does, enjoyed macadamias in them as well)

Process

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and two types of sugars.
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to butter/sugar mixture, mixing in well.
  4. In another bowl combine flour, oatmeal (previously processed to flourlike consistency), salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Add flour mixture to butter/egg mix in the larger bowl and mix together until well combined.
  6. Add chocolate chips, grated Hershey bar and nuts, and further mix together well.
  7. While the original recipe calls for golfball-sized dollops to be dropped onto an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart, I tend to make them a wee bit smaller and then slightly flatten them before slipping the pan into the oven.
  8. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes (mine take all of the 8 minutes, maybe an extra one too).
  9. Remove from oven when browning around edges and lightly tanning on top, and let cool for a minute before removing to a rack or platter to cool completely. (Be sure to sneak a couple for your own eating pleasure, however, while still warm.)
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