Ruth Wakefield was no cookie-cutter baker. She is widely credited with developing the world’s first recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
In 1937, Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, owned the famous Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. While mulling new desserts to serve at the inn’s restaurant, she made a batch of Butter Drop Do pecan cookies (a thin butterscotch treat) with an alteration using semisweet chocolate instead of baker’s chocolate.
Rather than melting in the baker’s chocolate, she used an ice pick to cut the semisweet chocolate into tiny pieces. Upon removing the cookies from the oven, Wakefield found that the semisweet chocolate had held its shape much better than baker’s chocolate which tended to spread throughout the dough during baking to create a chocolate-flavored cookie.
These cookies instead had sweet little nuggets of chocolate studded throughout. The treat recipe— Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies—was included in a late 1930s edition of her cookbook, Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes.
The cookies were a huge success and Nestlé hired Wakefield as a recipe consultant in 1939, the same year they bought the rights to print her recipe on packages of their semisweet chocolate bars. To help customers create their own bits of chocolate the bars came pre-scored in 160 segments with an enclosed cutting tool.
Three years after that first batch of chocolate chip cookies appeared fresh out of the oven—Nestlé began selling bags of Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels which some dubbed chocolate chips.
By 1941, chocolate chip cookies were the universally recognized name for the delicious treat. An updated version of Wakefield’s recipe called Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies still appears on every bag of morsels. For her contributions to Nestlé, Wakefield reportedly received a lifetime supply of chocolate.
The famous recipe
Here’s the original recipe that’s still the gold standard of chocolate chip cookie recipes even though it’s been slightly tweaked over the years. Try it!
Original Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts (optional. If omitting, add 1 to 2 tbsp. of all-purpose flour.)
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Numbers don’t lie
- 90 billion: Individual chocolate morsels Nestle sells every year mostly in 12-ounce bags
- 38,000 pounds: Weight of the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
- 102 feet: Diameter of the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
- 30,000: Number of eggs used in the world’s largest chocolate chip cookie
- 53: Percentage of Americans who prefer chocolate chip cookies to other cookies
- 13.5: Percentage of American adults who admitted to having eaten at least 20 chocolate chip cookies in one sitting
- 10: Percentage increase in consumption of chocolate chip cookies after the introduction of detailed Nutrition Facts labels
- 50: Number of chocolate chips that can be held in a normal tablespoon of cookie dough
- 104–113 ℉: The ideal temperature for chocolate chips to melt when baking cookies
- 35,000: Number of cookies the average person consumes in a lifetime.
National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day related holidays
- January 27: National Chocolate Cake Day
- May 5: National Chocolate Chip Day
- October 28: National Chocolate Day
Lou pushes a plate of cookies in front of us.
Chocolate pieces tease like jewels in sand.
Please, she says, have some!
I don’t want to be impolite, so I take five.