My goal here at Shoot to Cook is to learn how to be a better cook (and to share what I learn). Most days I’m going to be trying new dishes or improving on recipes that I’ve had trouble with in the past. Today’s post is about one of my favorite desserts that I’ve made dozens of times over the years. But even so, there is always room for improvement.
There is something about the smell of vanilla extract that really makes me think about the holidays. Most distinctly, it is the smell of vanilla extract and cookie batter that takes me back to my parent’s kitchen where my dad is whipping up a batch of “chippers” on a cold December evening. It should be noted however, that despite the fact that the smell of these cookies makes me think of Christmas, this cookie recipe is used year round in our house. If done properly, the cookies are soft and super sweet with just a touch of peanut butter flavor for depth. Is it wrong that I snag a couple with my coffee for breakfast?
The thing that makes these cookies so tasty is sugar. There’s a lot of it. They are also loaded with a lot more chocolate that your average cookie recipe. Finally, the recipe also calls for a large amount of shortening, which isn’t exactly healthy, but these cookies are too good to dismiss on those grounds.
It is a great base cookie to experiment with. In the past I’ve replaced the chocolate chips with butterscotch chips or mint chocolate chips, I’ve added Grand Marnier and some orange zest (crazy good), and I secretly want to try a version featuring bacon. For today’s version, I replaced the traditional walnuts with almonds that I had in the freezer from a tart crust recipe that I made recently, which made for a nice change of pace.
Chocolate Chip “Chippers” with Almonds
Note: This recipe has already been doubled in size, because why bother making a single batch of this wonderfulness. The recipe does scale quite well (my dad always says “Why not quadruple it??) but my mixing bowl is too small for that so I stick with this size batch which yields 4-5 dozen small cookies.
2/3 Cup Brown Sugar
2/3 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening (Crisco)
2 Tbls. Creamy Peanut Butter
2 Eggs, beaten
1 Tsp. Vanilla
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Tsp. Soda
18oz Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Chopped Almonds
*The original recipe calls for a full 24oz of chips, or two 12oz bags. I generally find this is too many chips to incorporate into the dough, so I generally go with about 18oz total.
Combine shortening, peanut butter, and sugars in a large mixing bowl and stir until smooth. Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well. Sift the flour, salt and soda together then add to the mixing bowl. Combine with a wooden spoon just until the flour mixture has been incorporated. Do not over mix or the cookies will get hard. Add the chocolate and the nuts and mix, again, just enough to incorporate. It may be tempting to use an electric mixer, but trust me, doing it by hand will give you a much better cookie.
You can refrigerate your dough or bake the cookies right away. Drop tablespoon sized cookies onto a dry cookie sheet. There is so much shortening in these bad boys there is no need to grease your pan. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes until just barely starting to brown. This takes a little practice and you have to feel your way through it. Once you can see the cookies starting to brown it is too late, and your cookies will be dry and crunchy rather than soft and gooey. But fear not, these cookies are excellent both ways. Here is a tip that I learned from my father’s version of the recipe for how to efficiently bake your cookies. Dad says:
An elderly friend of mine, Mrs. Ida McFadden, as a little girl, used to peddle cookies with her parents by horse and buggy. Years ago she gave me a system for baking cookies that I find really works well: Use 4 baking sheets. Drop the cookies on first baking sheet. Place on LOWER rack in the oven for about 5 minutes. Move that sheet to the top rack and put another sheet of cookies on the lower rack. In 5 minutes, or when done, remove the cookies from the top rack, move lower ones up and place a fresh sheet on bottom. When removing cookies from oven, let them cool until the next sheet is finished (they hold their shape better after they cool a bit). This rotating system makes the baking process a continuous one and a quadruple batch can be completed and the dishes washed within about an hour and a half if you wash the cookie trays as they become empty.
I only have three good baking sheets, so I just cut the cooling stage a little short to keep up with the rotation. For my stove I end up going six minutes on each part of this rotation to get the perfect amount of done-ness that I prefer. I’m not going to lie, after using the craptastic ovens I had in my NYC apartments, using a full sized oven here in St. Louis was a dream. As far as texture and softness, this batch of cookies is the best I’ve made in years.