Discovering My Ultimate Comfort Food
Chocolate chip cookies will always be one of my favorite desserts. Soft, sweet dough that is filled with rich, solid chocolate chunks is a treat that never ceases to disappoint. When I was in high school, I took a Baking 101 elective class, and became inspired to start baking.All the time. On the weekends and after track team practices, I took over my mom’s kitchen, covering the countertops in flour and putting cookie sheets and baking pans to the test while I tried every dessert recipe I could find. I baked snickerdoodle cookies, oatmeal butterscotch cookies, thumbprint cookies with Hershey’s Kisses, Monkey Bread, corn muffins, cranberry bread, and even a strawberry pie. And I baked chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies were an instant hit in my adventures in baking. Following the recipe on the back of a bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips, my steps became routine. Soften two sticks of butter. Mix them with brown sugar and granulated sugar. Add in two eggs, one at a time and mixing after each addition. Add in the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add in the vanilla extract. I’d mix everything together using my mom’s pearly white Kitchen-Aid mixer, watching all of the ingredients turn into smooth dough and being careful not to “overbeat the dough,” as my mom often warned. Then, for the final step, I’d add in the chocolate chips. I’d always sneak a spoonful (or three) of dough when my mom wasn’t looking, and then I’d drop the finished product onto shiny cookie sheets and wait for them to crisp up in the oven. The result was fresh baked cookies, still warm from the oven and filled with melted chocolate chips. And it was the best ever.
A Devoted Fan
Baking chocolate chip cookies became a source of comfort, as much in preparing them as in eating the result. I’d bake them on a Friday night after a crazy week at school, or on a Sunday afternoon as a distraction from the Sunday blues. I’d bake them with friends, with my sister, with my sister’s friends, with my mom, and even by myself. I’d get ambitious and make a double batch, which was too many cookies for both the Kitchen-Aid mixer and for my family of five, or I’d try a different kind of chocolate chip, like milk chocolate instead of semi-sweet (too sweet) or white chocolate (way too sweet).
In time, my track team practices and meets became more demanding, with competitions twice a week and travel on the weekends, and I had less time for baking. But every few months, I’d return to baking chocolate chip cookies.
My love of this dessert continued through college and into my adult life. I discovered chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (my preferred brand was Ben & Jerry’s), Chipwich ice cream sandwiches, and more. Though I consider myself a habitually healthy eater, I almost always made an exception for a dessert that included a chocolate chip cookie.
In 2015, my diet drastically changed, after I began suffering from chronic migraines and vertigo and learned that these were caused by consuming dairy products. This includes butter, milk, cream, yogurt, cheese, and any food that is made with any of these items. In a hard-learned lesson that I resisted for months, I was faced with the reality that if I consumed dairy, I would develop a debilitating migraine that lasted for up to 3 days. Migraines are a pretty frustrating headache, and their degree and treatment can be different for everyone, but for me, there is no relief other than to let it run its course. So, it’s best to stop the migraine before it starts. Which means – no dairy, and no chocolate chip cookies!
Since becoming dairy-free, I’ve been on the hunt for a chocolate chip cookie that tastes like those Nestle Toll House chocolate chip cookies. I’ve tried versions from Whole Foods, and boxed versions from allergy-friendly food companies, and while some have come close to mimicking that texture and flavor that I remember, most fall short in that they are either too thin or too chalky or starchy.
Last weekend, I tried a recipe that succeeded! From the company Tasty, which features recipes of all categories accompanied by a step-by-step video and upbeat music, I followed a recipe that is actually marketed as, “The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies.” And it doesn’t disappoint. The flavor is almost exactly as I remember, and arguably better. And the texture is thick, but not too thick, allowing the cookies to cleanly break apart at the chocolate chips just as I remember.
The recipe uses coconut oil instead of butter, non-dairy milk, and vegan chocolate chips, plus flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, salt, and vanilla extract. You really can’t taste the difference in the chocolate chips, and the coconut oil is an excellent substitute for seemingly both the eggs and the butter.
After a nearly 3-year hiatus, the high-schooler in me is happy to report that I’ve returned to baking chocolate chip cookies.
If you’re curious and wanting to try Tasty’s recipe for the Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies, click here.
Tried the recipe, or have one to share? Comment below.