Ricette Classiche: Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are few American dishes more classic than chocolate chip cookies.  Traced back to the Nestlé company, which placed the recipe for Toll House cookies on the back of its chocolate chip bags in 1939, these delicacies have been baked by Americans for generations.

I’ve run across countless recipes and variations for chocolate chip cookies, but here’s one that struck my eye, for a number of reasons.  The recipe is provided by Barbara Cosgriff, whom I met when I was Managing Director of The Nasdaq Stock Market.  She and I instantly became great friends and after I left Wall Street to open Bellavitae, Barbara and her husband were constant guests.

Barbara shares her recipe as guest blogger on the Behind the Scenes at La Cuisine blog.  “My mom made the delicious recipe on the chocolate chip bag.  This recipe has evolved from my having baked thousands of them…and the little tweaks that come from experience.”

Click below for Barbara’s recipe:




Why Barbara’s Recipe is so Special (and why it works!)

  • Top-shelf ingredients.  As any good cook will tell you, the best ingredients will result in the best recipe.  No skimping here.  You can order most everything online from La Cuisine.
  • Chilled ingredients.  As Barbara notes, if the batter is warm, the cookies will run (overspread).
  • A combination of brown and white sugars.  Although both sugars Barbara uses are “brown” (i.e., they contain molasses), the combination really represents a mix of brown and white sugars.  Brown sugar will attract and retain water (“hygroscopic”), rendering the cookies chewy.  Too much brown sugar and they will become, well, floppy.  The white sugar (about a quarter to a third of the total sugar) will add firmness and crispiness.
  • Baking soda.  Many cookie recipes use baking powder, which acts as a leavener when the batter is exposed to heat.  But baking powder is more appropriate for cakey cookies, not chewy cookies like chocolate chip.  Moreover, a crispy exterior is almost impossible to achieve using baking powder.  Baking powder would actually make the cookies crisp from the inside out, not a good thing here.  The acid needed to activate the baking soda in this recipe comes from the brown sugar’s molasses.
  • Low-protein flour.  Barbara uses an Italian “Tipo 00” flour, which has a lower protein content.  A high percentage of protein creates a harder (stronger) flour best suited for chewy, crusty breads and other yeast-risen products.  Less protein produces a softer flour, best for tender and chemically leavened baked goods, like pie crusts, cakes, cookies, and biscuits.
  • Don’t cream the butter.  Creaming butter is a wonderful technique that encourages cakes to rise nicely, as well as cakey cookies.  The sugar crystals act as extra beaters and will aerate the butter, enabling chemical leaveners to do their trick as the cake is baked.
  • Let the batter rest.  Allowing the cookie dough to rest will result in the sugars further dissolving.  This dissolved sugar will caramelize more readily and produce a crisp exterior that is juxtaposed by a chewy interior with a complexity of butter, caramel, toffee, and chocolate.


High Altitude Adjustments

Of all baked goods, cookies are generally the easiest to make at high altitudes.  However, once you reach 10,000 feet (as we are here inTaosSkiValley), things get a little tricky.  Here are some adjustments I would make to Barbara’s recipe for readers at this altitude:

  • Increase the flour by ¾ to 1 cup
  • Reduce the India Light Muscovado Sugar by 2 ½ tablespoons (this prevents overspread)
  • Increase the vanilla by 1 to 2 teaspoons (adds flavor to compensate for reduced sugar)
  • Reduce baking temperature by 50°F – to 300°F
  • Bake longer – an extra 4 to 5 minutes




Further Reading:  





Forbes: 10 Must-See Fall Foliage Destinations

The editors of Forbes magazine “leafed” through the top fall foliage destinations to come up with 10 that they think are worth a look. Making the list was our own Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway; an 85-mile loop through the Southwest’s mountains, valleys and national forests that are currently covered in gorgeous fall foliage:

It’s not your run-of-the-mill autumn scene, but a trip on the Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway will change your perspective of what fall foliage looks like. Aspen trees explode in bold yellows; cottonwoods transform into gold and red; and purple cinquefoil adds a little flavor. September and October are the best months to roam this 85-mile trail around Taos, Red River and Eagle Nest, and the valleys, mountains and mesas make this the quintessential Southwestern drive.

I happened to take a leisurely Sunday drive today and snapped a few pictures of Taos Ski Valley’s autumn in all its glory (click on the pictures to enlarge).  It’s no wonder so many folks drive up here to experience this heaven on earth.  I have to say, until recently, autumn had been my least favorite season.  But moving here can change a man’s mind.  Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar explains why fall has never been about death and dying, but the highest time of living!


Merry Autumn by Paul Laurence Dunbar

It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.

Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ’em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.

In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.

Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.

The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.

A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.

The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
Looking over AspensAnd laughs among the grasses.

The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.

Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.


Just Published: Ski Town Soups – Signature Soups from World Class Ski Resorts


Jennie Iverson has just published her first cookbook, Ski Town Soups:  Signature Soups from World Class Ski Resorts.  I’m pleased that Taos Ski Valley is represented in this beautiful book — The Blonde Bear Tavern contributed two recipes, and The Bavarian shared the recipe for its famous Bavarian goulash (featured on the book’s cover).

Jennie Iverson

Jennie is a wife and a mother of two boys; she tells how her family savors days on the mountain.  Not only does she love the snow, but she has a general adoration of winter.  She’s enthusiastic about making soups, stews and chilies in cold weather, and relishes a cup or bowl in front of the fire with her family.

Over the past three years she embarked on a journey to hunt down the best soups as she traveled to Sun Valley, Jackson Hole, Mt. Bachelor, Mt. Hood, Whitefish Mountain., Big Sky, Moonlight Basin, Heavenly, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Park City, Vail, and Beaver Creek.  What grew from these travel experiences was what she describes as a perfectly balanced recipe for life: a ski town, a comfortable restaurant, and a yummy bowl of soup.  As she likes to say: “Although soup is typically meant to simmer, life is meant to boil!”

The Ski Town Soups cookbook is a must-have souvenir for skiers and foodies alike.  The book is a beautiful, colorful rendition of 60 North American ski resorts, restaurant dining rooms, renowned chefs, and over 100 unique soup recipes with ultimate regional flare.

I’ve had a chance to preview this cookbook before it’s available to the public and I’m happy to recommend it to anyone who loves soups, chowders, bisques, and chilies.  The recipes are conveniently categorized in these sections.  Each recipe is rated with a “difficulty level” from “easiest” to “most difficult”.  The recipes were shared by some of the best chefs in North America’s mountain resorts and features beautiful photographs not only of the delicious dishes, but of the continent’s most beautiful mountain getaways.

The book’s foreword is provided by Kelly Liken, who, along with her husband, owns Restaurant Kelly Liken in Vail, Colorado.  She begins by saying, “It has been said that the mark of a great chef can be found in their creation of a great soup.”

You can order the book from Amazon by clicking here.  For a preview, check out Jennie’s blog at www.skitownsoups.com.