My mom tasted her first chocolate chip cookie, a Mrs. Fields cookie to be more precise, in America and never looked back since. She bought several books on baking (a Mrs. Fields Recipe book included) and with the convenience of an oven not readily available in Vietnam, began baking everything, from pound cake to banana bread, Chinese egg custard tarts, even your Thanksgiving turkey. There isn’t a tradition of eating desserts in Vietnam– anything sweet was usually eaten during the afternoon and after dinner was reserved for fresh fruits in order to as my mom would put it “cleanse the palate and make digestion easier” — yet interestingly, warm desserts such as flan or chai would be served during overcast, foggy days in Vietnam. Cookies fall under this category and my mom would readily bake them for me whenever SF’s cold fog rolls in during the week. Chocolate chip cookies are so easy to eat too, so pleasant to share with and pack in your lunch box that I would bake them if I’m ever craving something decadent. They go incredibly well with almond milk.
Preheat the oven 350 degrees and in a mixer, set to medium a cup of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar with a stick (8 oz) of melted, unsalted butter. You can reduce the sugar intake, but make sure it’s 2 parts brown sugar to 1 part white sugar. I have tried many types of butter from culinary school and my favourite, multi-use brand is Kerrygold, a natural Irish butter that you can find at decent prices in markets everywhere. Plugrá is also another favourite of mine, another notable baking stable. Just err on the side of European butter when you’re overwhelmed with choices at the supermarket. European butter just taste better and maybe the cows are treated better there too.
In a separate bowl, stir in 2 cups of all-purpose flour with 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Add this mixture to the mixer and slow the mixer to stir, while adding 2 eggs in one at a time. Then add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract (my mom swears that the ones sold at Sur la table are the best) and notice the beautiful aroma of cookie dough filling up the kitchen!
To the mixer, add 1/2-1 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans and a 10 oz bag of Trader Joe’s semi-sweet chocolate CHUNKS. I know it’s a chocolate chip cookie, but chocolate chunks melt and spread so much more evenly than chips do. For the nuts, what I simply do is get whole nuts and chop them in a food processor.
Stop the mixer and fold the dough again several times with a spatula to evenly distribute the sugar. Grab an ice cream scooper and place 6 spoonfuls evenly on a baking sheet and another 6 spoonfuls on another baking sheet. Place the baking sheets in the oven for 15-20 mins, until the cookies start slightly browning. Serves 12 palm-sized cookies. For the following days, you can heat the cookies in a microwave/oven if you want to savor some melted chocolate!
My mom’s words of wisdom:
- Refill sugar in your storage unit over a sink. Anything spilled just ends up there!
- Invest in an amazing cookie jar. And yes, you can get wonderful ones at T.J. Maxx
Do this or mom and the baking gods will kill you (frankly, I’m more scared of mom): Do NOT open the oven while your goodies are baking, especially to take a photo for this blog. That significantly lowers the temperature and disrupts the baking process!