Mary’s Award Winning Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last winter, I was on a mission to find a chocolate chip cookie recipe to love. Don’t get me wrong, I love the queen of all chocolate chip cookie recipes, the one I have known by heart since I was ten, the venerable Nestle’s Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. But I was looking for something thicker and a little less crunchy.

It turns out, I was looking for Mary’s chocolate chip cookies, all along. But that’s jumping the gun.

Did you know that back in the 1930s when Toll House Inn owner, Ruth Wakefield, first published her famous cookie recipe, she called it Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie? Ruth meant for her cookies to be crunchy.

I tested many recipes during my search for a chewier cookie.

In the end, I couldn’t find a favorite and instead wrote a post about cookie scoops, Cookie Scoops as a Unit of Measure.  Who knew the tiny numbers on cookie scoops described the number of scoops of dough in a one-quart container?

During my research, I learned a nifty way to scoop and freeze cookie dough before storing it.

My kids went home with bags full of frozen cookie dough every time they stopped by to visit; tasty rejects from the recipes I tested.

Ultimately, I realized my favorite cookie was the one my dear and funny, food-styling, recipe-developing friend, Mary Carter, sold back in the summer of 2011 at Nashville’s 12South Farmers Market. By the way, Mary is an artist, as well.

Her best selling cookie at the market was Pecan and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. She submitted the recipe to Southern Living Showhouse’s  “Ultimate Southern Cookie” contest and took home first place.

What is not to love here?

Many years ago, I tried making her recipe, but my cookies didn’t come out as well as hers. Last week, she came over to my house so we could bake them together to see what went wrong. I learned I was cooking them too long, mixing them too long, and not using the right amount of flour. To come up with a reliable amount of flour to use, I weighed each cup as she added it. The cookies came out perfectly under her tutelage

A few words on measuring flour:

When I write recipes, I envision my boys making them and add the specific chopping or measuring instructions I think they might need. IF they were to measure flour, they would stick a measuring cup into the flour bag, use their finger to level it off, and dump it into the batter.

So, that’s what I did. I measured 4 cups of what is ultimately packed flour, poured it into a glass bowl, and measured the weight of the flour (having first zeroed out the weight of the bowl). The flour weighed 21 ounces.

Compare that to the way I learned to measure flour (in Junior High Home Ec) where you lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and use the backside of a knife to level it off. Measured that way, 4 cups of flour weighs only 17 ounces! Scooping flour directly into a measuring cup can result in using more flour than the recipe writer may have intended. This discrepancy in amounts has become more common and is the reason many recipes now include a weight measurement in parentheses. Here’s  a video from King Arthur Flour that shows how to properly measure flour.

Pro Tips

Before we get started on the recipe, here is a list of baking tips I learned from Mary over the course of our afternoon together.

  • Do not overbeat the fat, sugar, and eggs. A soupy batter leads to pancake-like cookies. When Mary makes these cookies at home, she dumps all the ingredients at once into her favorite mixing bowl and mixes them by hand. I always use my beloved Kitchen Aid.
  • Mary uses self-rising flour when developing recipes. Cup for cup it has the correct proportion of flour to baking powder and salt, making it easy to increase or decrease flour as she makes up new recipes.
  • One level cup of self-rising flour weighs 4.25 ounces and is comprised of:
    1 cup of all-purpose flour
    1½ teaspoons baking powder
    ½ teaspoon salt
  • Bake cookie less than seems right. She bakes them until they just start to tan on the edges and are still quite pale in the center. She leaves them on the pan to cool completely.
  • Placing pecans on top of the cookie allows them to toast while cooking. This makes them so much more flavorful.
  • Place 3 chocolate chips on top of each cookie before baking; that’s a food-styling tip.
  • For whatever reason, this cookie dough doesn’t taste as good raw as Toll House cookie dough. We decided that was a good thing:-)
  • As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, Mary uses the tip of a spatula to smush the edges that have spread out too far, back inward. It makes the cookie rounder and taller. Here is a video of her demonstrating.

 

Mary’s Southern Pecan and Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt

Yield: 24  3-inch cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup (8-ounces) salted butter, at room temperature
½ cup (8-ounces) vegetable shortening
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large (4 ounces) eggs
3¾ cups (16 ounces) self-rising flour (I use unbleached King Arthur’s)
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I love Trader Joe’s chips)
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)

Topping Ingredients
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes or fine sea salt
¼ cup semi-sweet chocolate  chips
1 cup pecans

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350º.

Add butter, shortening, sugars, salt, vanilla, and eggs into a mixing bowl.

Blend together for one minute on medium-low speed. Halfway through mixing, turn mixer off and scrape down sides and bottom of bowl. Don’t let batter get soupy.

Add flour and mix on slow speed until flour is just incorporated into batter, about 45 seconds. Fold in chocolate.

Using a #30 (2-ounce) cookie scoop, place dough on a parchment-lined or ungreased, insulated cookie sheet.

Gently flatten the top of each cookie with the palm of your hand.

Sprinkle each cookie lightly with sea salt flakes or fine salt, three pecans, and a few extra chocolate chips.

Bake for 14-17 minutes, or until cookie edges start to tan and center of cookie is still fairly pale. In Mary’s oven, that’s 14 minutes, in mine, it’s 17 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately use a spatula to adjust the outer edges as described in video. I’ve noticed the cookies appear a little darker a few minutes after they get out of the oven.

Leave on baking sheet until cookie is completely cooled. Enjoy!

Some readers might remember a story I wrote about Mary and a food-styling job she brought me on, Food Styling with Mary Carter.

Thanksgiving is coming up. Take a look at THIS page for a list of tried and true recipes, especially Foolproof Make Ahead Gravy, my Mom’s Pumpkin Pie, and my Grandmother’s (killer) Cranberry Chutney.

Related Posts
Cookie Scoops as a Unit of Measure
Stocking Stuffers: Tools for the Cooking Life
Home Ec: How to Measure Ingredients Properly
Pecan Picking in Mississippi (and recipes to go with them)

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© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

My Favorite Rollout Butter Cookies

I am a baker at heart.

I love making pies for Thanksgiving, Italian cookies for Christmas, cakes for birthdays, and frosted rollout cookies for any event where children are in the house.

I loved the days as a teenager when I baked sweets for my brothers and the neighborhood kids, and then, as a mother, when I rolled out cookies with my sons.

When it comes to making dough suitable for cutting out cookies, there is one recipe I have used for the last thirty years, Bee’s Mother’s Butter Cookies. I laugh when I look at the recipe in my old cooking diary because it reminds me that at one time I thought I could save a few calories by cutting out a third of the butter. As if.

What is the difference between cookie doughs designed for rolling out versus  drop cookies? You won’t see baking powder or baking soda in the list of ingredients. Those ingredients, both leavening agents, are added to make baked goods rise, spread, and become airy. Rollout cookie dough should not spread in the pan. We want sharp, crisp edges and tender centers.

What I especially like about Bee’s recipe is it is not too sweet, it has a lovely buttery flavor, and a hint of lemon. Texture-wise, if I roll the dough out to a quarter-inch thickness, the cookies have just the right amount of chewiness for my liking. My new adjustable rolling pin assures a uniform thickness.

Even as a seasoned baker, I sometimes mess up on how long I bake cookies. I want them light in color, but if they are not cooked enough, the taste can be off from not cooking the flour long enough. If they are too dark, they are not as pretty as they could be. Cook them until the edges just start to brown. Having said all that, for whatever reason, the cookies always taste better the day after you frost them.

A few words on measuring flour:

The proper way to measure flour is to lightly spoon it into a dry measuring cup and then use the flat edge of a knife to level it. If weighed, one cup should equal 4.25 ounces.

Yield:  75 ¼-inch thick cookies

Ingredients:

6 sticks (1½ pounds) butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 large grated lemon rind
8 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and then leveled in a dry measuring cup

Instructions:

Measure flour into a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.

Zest one lemon. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar for one minute on medium speed. Add eggs, vanilla, salt, and lemon zest. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Be sure to scrape down the dough on the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Add flour and mix slowly. Once it is all incorporated into the dough, increase mixer speed to medium and beat for two minutes, scraping sides and bottom as you go. Cover dough and place in refrigerator to chill for two hours or up to two days.

Remove dough from refrigerator and cut into portion sizes suitable for rolling. Allow to soften for 20 minutes before rolling. Dough should be softened and still cool.

When ready to roll dough, preheat oven to 350º.

Place a segment of cool dough on a sheet of parchment paper. Lightly flour the rolling pin, the cookie cutters, and the top of the dough. The trick to creating a nicely flavored, tender cookie is to use as little extra flour as possible and to not keep reworking the dough.

Using cookie cutters, cut the shapes as close to one another as possible.

Remove the scraps and put them in a pile. After you have rolled out all the dough once, take the scraps, knead them together, chill, and roll out again.

Place cookies on a parchment-lined (or ungreased) cookie sheet. They can be arranged close together because they will not spread. I like to get all the cookies rolled out first and then cook them.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until edges just start to brown. Shift pans around in the oven midway through the cooking time for more even browning. Always remember, the back two corners of an oven are the hottest.

Cool cookies on a wire rack. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

To learn how to make and decorate with Royal Icing, please look at this post.

Sometimes, I thin the icing, brush it on the cookies, and then immediately add the sprinkles so they stick as the glaze cools.

Allow cookies to dry for two hours before stacking and storing.

Related Posts:

A Tale of Two Parties, Each Involving Royal Icing

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies
Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies
Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
Oats, Ginger, and Cranberry Cookies

If you enjoyed this post, please share and become a subscriber! Be sure to confirm the subscription on the follow-up letter sent to your email address.

Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Always check my blog for the latest version of a recipe.

© 2014-2019 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

How to Fold A Tree-Shaped Napkin

Dear Readers,

Stop the presses! Here’s a last-minute idea for setting the table: tree-shaped napkins!

Start with the four open corners of a napkin facing downward.

Fold each corner upward leaving a space between each fold.

Turn the napkin over. Pull the right tip over to the left side and then pull the left tip over to the right side. Tuck the top point under the folds.

 

Turn the napkin over, again. Tuck each of the fold corners under as shown in the photos.

 

And there you go — a tree is formed.

And in a nutshell:

Need ideas for appetizers, meals, and desserts over the next week? Check out Holiday Inn: Feeding a Houseful

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

Thanks to my son, Andrew, for helping his mother by taking last-minute photos.

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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Always check this website for the most up to date version of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.

Holiday Inn: Feeding a Houseful

Say you have a house full of people over the next week or two and you need to keep the meals rolling out. Or, maybe you have been tasked with bringing part of a meal to someone’s house for a vacation gathering. I’ve made a list of some of my favorites. The Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant is the most labor intensive, but many readers noted they substituted cooked Italian sausage for the eggplant and an easy meal was ready in no time. I’ve included my fifteen-minute recipe for marinara sauce for a quick bowl of pasta, too.

Rachelle’s Italian Sausage, Onions, and Peppers

 

 

Baked Ziti with Roasted Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Marinara Sauce 

 

 

Yummy Shepherd’s Pie

 

 

Judy’s Mom’s Meatloaf

 

 

@judyschickens Marinara Sauce

 

 

I like to make one of these delicious, crowd-pleasing chilis when I have a lot of people to feed. The Buffalo Chicken Chili is super quick, especially if you use rotisserie chicken for the meat.

Award Winning Buffalo Chicken Chili

 

 

My Favorite Silver Palate Chili

 

 

If you are a duck hunter or know someone who is, chances are their freezers are full of ducks. Ask for a few; I’m sure your hunter friends will share. This stew, served over a wedge of hot cornbread, is divine.

Kelly’s Duck Stew

 

 

If you are a making a turkey dinner for Christmas, check out the recipes for sides under Thanksgiving Week. Note the no-fail make-ahead gravy recipe. You’ll see why reader Susie Ries traveled to her daughter’s house in Wisconsin with a Knorr’s chicken bouillon cube packed in her suitcase.

Foolproof Make-Ahead Gravy

 

 

It wouldn’t be a holiday meal in a big Italian family without batter-fried cauliflower. This is one of the most popular recipes on the blog. I love the festive Brie Bites, too. They take about fifteen minutes to assemble and bake.

Auntie’s Italian Fried Cauliflower

 

 

 

Hot Pepper Jelly and Pecan Brie Bites

 

 

Special morning breakfasts call for special crowd-pleasing foods. Here are a few of our favorites:

Mom’s Monkey Bread, circa 1970

 

 

 

The Biscuit King

 

 

50 Ways to Make a Breakfast Frittata

 

 

Fruit and Nut Bread

 

 

Desserts are my favorite food to cook. These Italian Sesame Seed cookies are not too sweet, easy to make, great dunked in coffee, and last for a long time in a sealed container. After a warm chocolate chip cookie, they are my favorite cookie on the planet. The Ricotta and Lemon Cookies are heavenly, as well.

Italian Sesame Seed Cookies

 

 

Italian Ricotta and Lemon Cookies

 

 

If you are looking for ideas for foods to bring in the New Year, don’t forget to include collard greens, black-eyed peas, and pork. The greens represent the color of money and thus, economic fortune, the peas (lentils, in the Italian tradition) represent coins, and plump pigs represent prosperity. Here are the tried and true recipes I make every New Year’s Day.

Sautéed Collards (or Swiss Chard), Toasted Pine Nuts and Cranberries

 

 

Marlin’s Black-Eyed Pea Salad

 

 

Brooks’ Pork Tenderloin with an Amazing Marinade

 

 

It’s easy to spruce up your dining room table with greens from the yard. I took a walk with my dear friend, Lou Ann Brown and we came up with this post.

Winter Floral Arrangements Using Greenery from the Yard

 

 

 

Happy cooking and happy holidays to you and yours!

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Follow Judy’s Chickens on Instagram and Pinterest @JudysChickens.

Always check this website for the most up to date version of a recipe.  

© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.