Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #1: Tollhouse
To start off our cookie series, I believe it’s important to start out with a recipe that everyone knows and loves – The Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie. In fact, the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe is the first documented chocolate chip cookie recipe invented! Pretty neat, huh? Everyone at some time or another has had a home baked Nestle’s Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie! These cookies are so well known and loved that you can buy the pre-made dough in the refrigerate section of your grocery store. I have now even seen in the pre-made boxes in the baking isle with all the dry ingredients already mixed together so all you need to do is add the wet ingredients!
Clearly, these cookies have lasted the test of time and are well-loved and cherished by all so I think it’s the right cookie to start our series in the search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe!
Since we are starting our series with the very first chocolate chip cookie recipe, I thought it might be interesting to do a little research on the history of the Tollhouse cookie and how it rose to its fame and glory! The beginnings of this cookie start in Whitman, Massachusetts at the Toll House restaurant owned by Ruth and Kenneth Wakefield. The restaurant was run from 1930 – 1967 and Ruth brought on the famous “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie” in the 1930’s. Before her chocolate chip cookie recipe came to its fame, Ruth was known for her Boston cream pies, Indian pudding, and pecan rolls.
First made as an accompaniment to ice cream, the Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe was first printed in Ruth’s cookbook, “Tried and True,” in
the 1938 edition. The cookies were such a hit that Marjorie Husted (Betty Crocker) featured it on her radio show. Then in 1939, Ruth Wakefield gave Nestle the rights to her chocolate chip cookie recipe and the Tollhouse name as we know it to be! There are many “mythical” stories of the origins of Ruth’s chocolate chip recipe ranging from the industrial mixer “by-accidentally” caused crushed chocolate bars to fall into the mixing bowl to Ruth running out of nuts for her ice cream cookies and replaced them with the chocolate. None of these appear to be true according to author Carolyn Wyman who wrote the “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book,” who attributes Ruth’s recipe to hard work, talent, and dedication to her baking craft (which is a way more honorable story to me anyways!).
In the Great Depression and during the World Wars, Ruth’s chocolate chip cookies helped counter the challenges and difficulties of the time becoming even more popular. Thousands of cookies were set overseas to soldiers in care packages and the chocolate chip cookie quickly became America’s number one dessert. After both World Wars, the chocolate chip cookie went from homemade to mass-production and were reproduced by many rivaling bakeries including Pillsbury, Famous Amos, Mrs. Fields, and Chips Ahoy, just to mention a few. In the 1980’s, Ben and Jerry’s spent years perfecting how to incorporate the frozen cookie dough into their ice cream creating their famous Chocolate Chip Cooke Dough Ice Cream!
Now, there are thousands of chocolate chip cookie recipes and many variations of the recipe including blondies, bars, pies, cakes, and ice creams! And to think it all started out in a little restaurant in Massachusetts. Sadly, in 1984, the Toll House restaurant burned down and it is now replaced by the fast-food restaurant, Wendy’s :(. But it’s not all for not! The Whitman Wendy’s has a museum with the fast-food joint dedicated to the Toll House restaurant. So next time you are in the Boston – Whitman area, check out the museum and catch a little history on the origins of the original chocolate chip cookie!
We have a lot to thank Ruth Wakefield for. Think about all of the recipes that have been born out of the Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie recipe! And they all spurred from this one original. If you are interested in reading more about the origins of the chocolate chip cookie, I recommend reading the “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book” by food writer Carolyn Wyman. It’s a great, fun read on a delicious treat that has last the test of time and for many years to come!
Finally, let’s get to baking!
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup softened unsalted butter
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract (I use 2 tsp because I like the added vanilla flavor!)
2 large eggs
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup nuts (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I recommend using an oven thermometer because just because your oven read 375 does not mean it really is!
- Sift together dry ingredients in medium size bowl – flour, salt, and baking soda.
- Combine butter and sugars until smooth and well mixed. Will take several minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, and and vanilla bean paste until beaten in completely.
- Gradually add flour mixture (Not all at once! You will end up with a flour facial!) to wet mixture until completely combined. Do not overmix. Overmixing will produce a dry tough cookie.
- Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if desired.
- Drop cookie dough onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper 2 inches apart from oneanother. Remember cookies will spread and we don’t want to endup with all of our cookies rising and spreading to create a big chocolate chip cookie bar.
- Bake for 9-11 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let stand on cookie sheet for 2 minutes. Then remove from baking sheet onto baking rack to cool completely. This recipe makes ~36 cookies.
Store on the counter for several days, but will get softer over time due to humidity. Store in refrigerate for up to 1 week and in freezer for up to 8 weeks.
Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies are a thin, crisp, chewy cookie. Baking to a light golden brown will produce a light, thin, chewy cookie. Baking to a darker golden brown will produce that same light, thin cookie, but with a more crispy texture. The flavor is buttery, sugary, and lightly chocolate-y. The chocolate chips don’t overtake the cookie taste and texture giving it more dimension than some other cookies that are overwhelmingly chocolate chip-y. Overall these cookies have a great thin, crispy or chewy texture with a sweet and lightly chocolate flavor.
I hope you enjoyed the first recipe of the chocolate chip cookie series! Come back soon to see what’s next. If you have any chocolate chip cookie recipes that you think I should try, leave me a comment with your recipe and I would be happy to include it in the mix. What are your thoughts on the very first chocolate chip cookie? When you are baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies, is the Tollhouse recipe the one you reach for? If you haven’t checked out the other recipes I’ve tried in the Chocolate Chip Cookies, click on the links below to give them a try to see which one is your favorite! Happy Baking 🙂