It wasn’t until a year or two ago that I was turned on to baking. When I lived in California, I had a wonderful roommate who would bake almost daily. She was constantly concocting quick breads, brownies, cookies, and other delicious desserts for those of us who lived with her, and to mail to family and friends far away.

When I moved home with my family, I discovered my mother’s treasured Banana Bread recipe and I quickly learned how unbelievably simple, yet fulfilling it is to bake.

I started with banana bread and soon found my way to pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, and cranberry orange walnut bread. Eventually I branched out to cookies and muffins, bars and more.

Now I am certainly one for healthier substitutes. I often make my muffins with whole wheat flour and brown sugar as opposed to white and granulated. I try to bake with fresh fruit/vegetables as much as possible.  But, as Ina Garten “The Barefoot Contessa,” states, “Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable.” And when you are cooking or baking for someone other than yourself, you have to suit their palates.

I found this out the hard way. Alot of my friends and relatives do alot of cooking and baking for their co-workers. It works out nicely because you can enjoy all of the benefits of baking but you aren’t committed to eating the entire batch of goodies. This is my current dilemma. I don’t have co-workers. The people who I spend most of my day with at my job are inner-city pregnant and parenting teenage girls. Hungry, picky, sweet-toothed girls.

I have tried again and again to win them over with muffins, but they are keen at spotting the whole wheat flour, the lemon zest, the brown sugar, the Smart Balance butter substitute. There is no way to please these young ladies unless it’s with sugar. And lots of it.

Enter: Toll House Cookies.

Five of my senior students will be graduating tomorrow and to help celebrate I figured I’d bake. I once baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies for one of my student’s birthdays and although I made the cookies from scratch, she was convinced that I correctly followed all of the instructions from “the box.” And she liked it that way.

As much as I love my rhubarb muffins, banana breads, and blackberry cupcakes, the original Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe never fails me. Even if it does call for 2 large sticks of butter and a ton of sugar.

If you have friends, family, or students with  sweet teeth like my students’, here is a way to win their heart:

Mmm... one cup of butter...

Mmm... one cup of butter...

Nestle Toll House Original Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients:

2 and 1/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups of Nestle Tollhouse semi-sweet chocolate chips (or whichever kind you prefer)
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. In a larger bowl, combine granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Add one egg at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop a rounded tablespoon onto  ungreased baking sheets.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown.

As much as I try to be health-conscious, these cookies are really best if you avoid any substitutes. I mix everything by hand because it is what I’m accustomed to and I feel like it gives me more control of the consistency. (Plus I am afraid of mis-using a mixer and having batter splatter everywhere!)

The recipe yields 5 dozen cookies, but I make mine giant-sized, so I got about 2 and 1/2 dozen out of this batch. Aim for smaller cookies.

For more Nestle Toll House recipes, visit www.verybestbaking.com

I will now be battling off the urge to eat these cookies at half-hour intervals for the next 24-hours, or until I make sure all of them have been given away.

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