I know that title is quite a claim but people, I’m about to give you a cookie recipe to end all cookie recipes. But first let me introduce you to the creator of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies on Earth, my favorite chef Tara Bench (instagram: @tarateaspoon). Here she is getting ready to serve some delicious treats to Al Roker on the Today Show.
She may not be as famous as Ina Garten or Bobby Flay but she’s a celeb chef all right: Tara is the Food and Entertaining Director for Ladies’ Home Journal* and in the 7+ years I’ve worked with her, she’s never made a single thing that I didn’t like. Think about that for a second. Every recipe she produced–whether sweet or savory, difficult or a breeze–has been deeeeelish. And I think I’ve tasted them all! I’m also lucky to call her a friend. (She’s the awesome kind of buddy who answers all of my frantic weekend baking texts when I’m questioning my kitchen skills. Everyone needs a friend like that but no, I’m not giving you her number.)
Tara started her career at Martha Stewart and you can see it in her work; aesthetics are as important as taste. Some of her favorite LHJ recipes are Crispy Ice Cream Bars, Frozen Blueberry Cheesecake, and Thai Chicken Patties.
But her heart belongs to chocolate chip cookies. They’re her favorite thing to make. And why not when she has perfected the recipe!?
I’ve been on a quest to make the perfect chocolate cookie for a long time but they’ve never been quite right. They’re either too crunchy or spread too thin or not chocolatey enough. So, I finally decided to try Tara’s personal recipe and It. Is. Perfect. They’re sweet and chocolatey but not too much of either. They’re lightly golden around the edges, just enough to give them a little bit of crunchiness. But the gooeyness–oh the gooeyness!–is the key to this recipe’s success. That soft texture remains days after they’re baked. ( But wait! There’s more! Tara even makes a gluten free version that pretty amazing, too!)
And here’s the best part: even though this recipe is so close to her heart, she gives it to friends and family all the time and she even kindly agreed to let me share it with you. Right here. Right now. (Told you she’s awesome!)
TARA’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
4 cups flour (fluff the flour before scooping) or substitute Gluten Free All Purpose Flour for Gluten Free version (see Gluten Free note below)
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsps or 1 tblsp vanilla extract (I go for the full tablespoon when I make them.)
1 package (11.5 oz bag) of milk chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and you should to.)
1 package (11.5 oz bag) of semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli and reduce this amount to a little more than half of the bag.)
Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a separate mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix. Add the dry mixture, a little at a time, and mix. Stir in chocolate chips. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. (Eleven minutes works perfectly for my oven but be careful. Tara says “Don’t overcook”!)
Gluten Free note: If you prefer rice flour to Gluten Free all purpose flour, you can use that instead (Tara recommends this one) but be sure to add a scant tbsp xantham gum to hold the cookies together. (A “scant” tbsp means slightly less than full.)
A couple things to remember, the dough is thick! Crazy thick! It’ll look like this when you’re done mixing but don’t worry. That’s how it’s supposed to look.
Then get ready to work your stiring muscles! No pain, no gain. Right?
Make sure your little cookie dough balls are spread out enough or else you’ll have a solid sheet of cookies. (I say that like it would be a bad thing. Ha!)
When they come out, they look puffy and undercooked.
But then they deflate a little bit while they’re cooling.
And you end up with perfect cookie goodness.
Before you get to baking, I want to urge to follow Tara on Instagram @tarateaspoon. That’s where you’ll get to see her working on her culinary delights…
…hanging out with hottie chefs, like Curtis Stone…
…having cookie throwdowns with her friends (I’ll give you one guess which recipe won!)…
…and rubbing elbows (or tummies!) with all kinds of food industry celebs.
And take note of her oft-used hashtag #wwllt which stands for What Work Looks Like Today. I had no idea what it meant but lots of food industry pros seem to like it so it’s a great hashtag to check out for foodie inspiration.
And don’t forget: Your gluten free friends don’t need to be left out! Just replace the flour with Gluten Free all purpose flour for a perfectly delicious cookie treat.
Sue at Home
*With deep sadness I need to tell you that while I was writing this post, Ladies’ Home Journal closed its doors and with that, Tara and I (plus another 33 of my friends and coworkers) lost our jobs. I’m trying to stay hopeful that this will be a turning point in my career and that I will move on to bigger and better things. (In fact, maybe you’ll even get more Sue at Home!) But I fear that I will never have a job that I love as much as I loved being the Fashion Editor for LHJ. The kindness of the people that I worked with, the collaborative atmosphere, the quality of the work we produced, and the respect that I felt from everyone around me is a rare thing in business and I feel so lucky to have had that. But I’m hopeful for the future and excited to see what it brings.
I’ll keep you posted on the chapter. And please send positive thoughts my way!