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Cookie History

Believe it or not, the first cookies were created by accident. In fact a lot of the famous history of cookies is filled with accidents. The very first cookies were just an oven temperature test. Early bakers used very small amounts of cake batter to test their oven temperatures before baking the final cake. These little test cakes were called "koekje", which means "little cake" in Dutch. By accident, the first "cookies" came into being.

Early American cookbooks show that the earlier versions were called "Tea Cakes". Our simple "butter cookies" strongly resemble the English tea cakes and the Scotch shortbread. The English also call them biscuits. The Spanish call them galletas, the Germans call the kels and in Italy there are several names to identify various forms of cookies including Amaretti and Biscotti.

Every country has its favorite kind of cookie. In the U.K. it is shortbread, in France it is sablés and macaroons, and in Italy biscotti. And the favorite cookie in America and Canada is the Chocolate Chip Cookie. In fact at least half of the cookies baked in American homes are chocolate chip. Like many other great discoveries, the chocolate chip cookie was also a accident.

Ruth Wakefield invented chocolate chip cookies at the Toll House Inn she and her husband Keneth ran near Whitman, Massachusetts. Like a bed and breakfast she made food for her guests. One evening in 1937 she got the idea to make a chocolate butter cookie so she broke up one of the bars of semi-sweet chocolate that Andrew Nestle gave her. She thought that it would mix together with the dough and produce all chocolate cookies . Needless to say, it didn't. However the cookies came out decent so she served them. They of course were so good they had to be done again. She published the recipes in several newspapers and the recipe became very popular.

Ruth called her cookie, the Chocolate Crunch Cookie. She also struck a business deal with Nestle that allow Nestle to put the recipe on their chocolate bar if they supplied her with free chocolate for her cookies at the Inn. Nestle was so enamoured with the whole concept that they included a small chopper in the package. The popularity of the cookie grew by leaps and bound and in 1939, the Chocolate Morsels that we know today were introduced.

Below is the original toll house recipe which hasn't changed much over the years.

Mrs. Wakefields Original Toll House Cookie Recipe

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg.)
1 cup chopped nuts

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.

GREASE 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

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