A chocolate chip cookie is a drop cookie from the United States that features chocolate chips as its distinguishing ingredient. The traditional recipe combines a dough composed of butter and both brown and white sugar with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Variations include recipes with other types of chocolate or additional ingredients, such as nuts or oatmeal.
There are conflicting stories about the origin of the chocolate chip cookie and the acquisition of the recipe by Nestlé. The commonality between the two stories is that the chocolate chip cookie was accidentally developed by Ruth Wakefield
in 1933. Mrs. Wakefield owned the Toll House Inn
, in Whitman
, a very popular restaurant in the 1930s. The restaurant's popularity was not just due to its home-cooked style meals; Mrs. Wakefield's policy was to give diners a whole extra helping of their entrées to take home with them and a serving of her homemade cookies for dessert. Mrs. Wakefield's cookbook, Toll House Tried and True Recipes
, was published in 1936 by M. Barrows & Company, New York
. Included is the recipe for the Toll House Cookie, originally called the Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookie.
Mrs. Wakefield was making chocolate cookies
but ran out of regular baker's chocolate, so she substituted it with broken pieces of semi-sweet chocolate
, thinking that it would melt and mix into the batter. It clearly did not, and the chocolate chip cookie was born. Wakefield sold the recipe to Nestlé
in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate chips. Every bag of Nestlé chocolate chips in North America
has a variation of her original recipe printed on the back (butter and margarine are now both included as variants).
Toll House Inn version
Mrs. Carol Cavanagh, of Brockton, Massachusetts
and a former employee of the Inn, and her father, George Boucher of South Dennis, MA
and the former head chef at the Toll House Inn during the years of its operation, offer a different history of the cookie. Contradicting Nestlé's claim that Mrs. Wakefield put chunks of chocolate into cookie dough hoping they would melt, Mrs. Cavanagh states that Mrs. Wakefield was already an accomplished chef and author of a cookbook, and knew enough about the properties of chocolate that it would not melt and mix into the batter while baking. Mr. Boucher states that Mrs. Wakefield was known for her sugar cookies, which came free with every meal, and were for sale in the inn's lobby. One day, while mixing a batch of the sugar cookie dough, the vibrations from a large Hobart
electric mixer caused bars of Nestlé's chocolate stored on the shelf above the mixer to fall into the mixing bowl, where it was broken up and incorporated into the dough. Mrs. Wakefield believed the dough was ruined and was about to discard it, when Mr. Boucher stopped her and talked her into saving the batch. His reasoning was out of frugality rather than a prediction of the cookie's future popularity.
Mrs. Cavanagh states that Mrs. Wakefield did not sell the ownership of the recipe to Nestlé, but she only gave them rights to print her recipe on the packages of their chocolate morsels. Later, Nestlé's lawyers found loopholes in the initial agreement that ceded the rights to the recipe from Mrs. Wakefield, and began mass-producing the cookies.
Currently, the chocolate chip cookie is one of the most popular cookies in United States with half the cookies baked in American homes being chocolate chip.. While the Nestlé's Toll House recipe is the most widely known, every brand of chocolate chips (Semi-sweet chocolate morsels in Nestlé parlance) sold in the U.S. and Canada contains a variant of the chocolate chip cookie on its packaging, and almost all baking oriented cookbooks
will contain at least one type of recipe.
Practically all commercial bakeries offer their own version of the cookie in both packaged cooked or ready to bake forms. There are at least three national (US/North America) chains that sell fresh baked chocolate chip cookies in malls and stand alone retail locations. Several businesses, including Doubletree hotels, Citibank, Aloha and Midwest Airlines, offer fresh baked cookies to their patrons to differentiate themselves from their competition. Additionally, there is an urban legend about Neiman Marcus' chocolate chip cookie recipe that has gathered a great deal of popularity over the years.
To honor the cookies creation in the state, on 9 July 1997 Massachusetts designated the chocolate chip cookie as the Official State Cookie, after it was proposed by a third grade class from Somerset, Massachusetts.
Composition and variants
Chocolate chip cookies are commonly made with white sugar; brown sugar; flour; a small portion of salt; eggs; a leavening agent such as baking powder; a fat, typically butter or shortening; vanilla extract (additional flavorings can be used); and semi-sweet chocolate pieces. Some recipes also include milk or nuts (such as chopped walnuts) in the dough.
Depending on the ratio of ingredients, mixing and cooking times, some recipes are optimized to produce a softer, chewy style cookie while others will produce a crunchy/crispy style. Regardless of ingredients, the procedure for making the cookie is fairly consistent in all recipes: First, the sugars and fat are creamed, usually with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer. The eggs and vanilla extract are added next followed by the flour and the leavener. Depending on the additional flavoring, its addition to the mix will be determined by the type used: peanut butter will be added with the wet ingredients while cocoa powder would be added with the dry ingredients. The titular ingredient, chocolate chips, as well as nuts are typically mixed in towards the end of the process to minimize breakage, just before the cookies are scooped and positioned on a cookie sheet. Most cookie dough is baked, although some eat the dough as is, or use it as an addition to vanilla ice cream to make cookie dough ice cream.
- The M&M cookie, or party cookie, replaces the chocolate chips with M&M's candies. This recipe uses shortening as the fat.
- The chocolate chocolate chip cookie uses a dough that is chocolate flavored by the addition of cocoa or melted chocolate. Variations on this cookie include replacing chocolate chips with white chocolate or peanut butter chips.
- The macadamia chip cookie has macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips. It is a signature cookie of Mrs. Fields bakeries.
- The chocolate chip peanut butter cookie replaces the vanilla flavored dough with a peanut butter flavored one.
- The monster cookie includes M&M's candies, peanut butter, oatmeal and more ingredients to the basic recipe.
- Other variations include different sizes and shapes of chocolate chips, as well as dark versus milk chocolate chips. These changes lead to differences in both flavor and texture. There are also vegan chocolate chip cookies.