The Secret Family Recipe

This post was inspired by the Pretty Much World Famous Writer’s Workshop and my beloved No Shoe Left Behind.

The other night, Stephen Colbert – a man I hold in the highest possible regard – showed an image during his broadcast that I cannot get out of my head. It is so disturbing I can’t even post it here, as it would haunt you, too, and I would feel bad about that. I very much wish I could share it, as the memory is a painful burden most difficult to cope with. But I shall have to. It is my cross to bear.

“It” is a photo showing juicy, tender, sliced Cookie Monster meat – blue, fuzzy crust and all. It will stay with me until the day I die.

Why is this such a troubling concept, you might be asking?  For one thing, it leads me to assume that in fine restaurants around the globe, waiters are now serving whole Cookie Monster on ornate silver trays, seasoned with oregano and rosemary, googly eyes still in place, giant biscuit in his felt mouth.  For another, it was like seeing the lifeless, oven-baked body of a close friend or relative … it was like seeing … me.   

[Insert dramatic music.]

Cookie Monster and I have been kindred spirits since the mid-70s. He may not know it, of course, but it’s true. We are bound by our passionate, relentless pursuit of circular baked goods. At this point, I’m probably a bit more discriminating than he is, and no matter what Healthy America says, I still maintain that cookies are an “anytime” food.

Which brings me to the Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Story of 2005 and the whole point of this post.

When we lived in Philadelphia, Dave and I were in very similar boats. We’d both left fulfilling jobs and relocated to a strange city for our significant others. We were both stay-at-home Wheaten terrier parents with a lot of time on our hands.  We passed many a day praying that Howie and Ollie wouldn’t take their afternoon constitutionals on the carpet and reminiscing about the foods and restaurants we missed in our respective hometowns.  It was during this time that I first learned of Whattaburger, Taco Bueno, Blue Bell ice cream and Dave’s mom’s secret recipe/homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Secret recipe/homemade chocolate chip cookies, you say? I’m intrigued. Tell me more.

He described them in detail and they sounded more fabulous than any cookie I’d ever known.  Their not-too-thin, not-too-thick width. Their perfect ratio of chip to delicious, brown sugary dough. Their melt-in-your-mouth texture. 

I had to have Dave had to have them for his upcoming 30th birthday. A day that would no doubt be emotionally challenging for him, being so far away from home on such a milestone and shit.  

I called his mom and asked her if she was willing to provide the recipe so I could surprise Dave with the cookies. 

This is how the conversation went, essentially.

Me:  I know you don’t know me very well. For all you know I could be a corporate spy for Mrs. Fields.  A con artist from the big bad city. I totally understand if you don’t feel comfortable sharing the recipe – I know it goes back a few generations in your family and that it’s a big secret. Feel free to hang up on me.

Dave’s Mom [insert kindly Texas-via-Pittsburgh accent]: Aw sugar, those are just Toll House cookies I take out of the oven a few minutes early!

Well, that was easy.  

And here, courtesy of Nestlé® and Dave’s mom, is the not-so-secret (and slightly modified) chocolate chip cookie recipe that will change your life.


  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Generous 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract (preferably the fancy Nancy Madagascar liquid kind)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (unless you have a lethal allergy, obv)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition (take out all your aggressions on those fookers). Add flour gradually. Stir in chips and nuts. Drop by generous tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet.

Remove after less than 9-11 minutes, depending on how much you obsess over salmonella. Cookies should in fact be cooked, but still a little “wet.”  

The Secret Family Recipe