At pastry school, like most schools I'm sure, we learned our trade by taking our projects apart into separate components. Also, like mastering other talents, my trade can be broken down into a few basic skills that are repeated. Once one understands these elements, the idea of baking and creating amazing pastries is much less daunting.
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until blended.
Combine flour, soda, and salt in a small bowl; gradually add to butter mixture, beating well. Stir in morsels. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto lightly greased baking sheets.
Bake at 350° for 8 to 14 minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Decrease salt to 1/2 teaspoon. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter with butter and sugars. Increase flour to 2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons. Proceed as directed. (Dough will look a little moist.)
Oatmeal-Raisin Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce flour to 2 cups. Add 1 cup uncooked quick-cooking oats to dry ingredients and 1 cup raisins with morsels. Proceed as directed.
Pecan-Chocolate Chip Cookies: Add 1 1/2 cups chopped, toasted pecans with morsels. Proceed as directed.
Almond-Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce morsels to 1 cup. Add 1/2 cup slivered toasted almonds and 1 cup almond toffee bits. Proceed as directed.
Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies: Substitute 1 (12-ounce) package dark chocolate morsels for semisweet chocolate morsels. Proceed as directed.
Chunky Cherry-Double Chip Cookies: Microwave 1 tablespoon water and 1/2 cup dried cherries in a glass bowl at HIGH 30 seconds, stirring once. Let stand 10 minutes. Substitute 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate chunks for morsels. Add 1 cup white chocolate morsels, 1/3 cup slivered toasted almonds, and cherries with chocolate chunks. Proceed as directed.