Toll Houses

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This month’s Recipe Swap recipe made me smile. It also appealed to my nerdyness with a little geographical and historical context lesson. Christianna at Burwell General Store decided to start the swaps second year with a new cookbook. A group of brave bloggers received this vintage recipe from a very unique cookbook:

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        I didn’t do a ton of baking as a kid but I do remember making Toll House chocolate chip cookies with my mom. I know they were Toll House because I remember reading the recipe off of the yellow bag. Though it didn’t happen often, for me cookie baking meant valuable lessons in how to use the stand mixer. It was big, heavy, more than a little scary with all those moving parts, and absolutely essential for perfect cookies.

Until very recently, I didn’t have a mixer of my own. My grandmother’s KitchenAid coming to live with me just happened to correspond with this cookie recipe swap. Creaming butter and sugar has never been so satisfying!
Oh but wait, I didn’t use butter in my Toll House cookies. There are two explanations for this:

  1. I wanted to use a “healthier” fat and just experiment with a different version of the traditional cookie.
  2. I forgot to buy butter.

I’d say the real reason is some combination of the above…but mostly number 2. Butter was on the grocery list. I meant to use it, really I did. I’m just not a big butter user so it didn’t make it into my basket. No problem. I had coconut oil! Since it’s solid at room temperature and has such a lovely flavor, I sometimes substitute coconut oil for butter in my baking. While it’s not the same as something made with butter, I think the flavor and texture of these cookies is outstanding.

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        Now comes the part where I explain the houses. You see, my husband is such a sweet guy, he randomly buys me cookie cutters (this just started recently). Last month he added a house-shaped cutter to my small collection. That, of course, made me smile because we were about to buy our first house! We moved in a week or so ago so I’m feeling very homey and grounded nowadays. The house cookie cutter came out as my play on Toll House cookies and to share a little of my new home love with everyone.

I changed a few other things besides the shape and fat in my cookies. I used white chocolate chips in place of regular, vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract, and whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose. This recipe is small – a nice size for a cookie recipe (unless it’s Christmas and you’re trying to feed lots of people). I baked all the dough in a pyrex dish lined with parchment and then cut the houses out of the giant sheet cookie. This worked pretty well but only made 5 houses + trimmings. The house cookies are big. I’d share one with 1 or 2 other people. The trimmings are perfect for snacking on while you’re snapping your cookie pictures or for crumbling over ice cream…yum!

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Toll House Houses
Adapted from The Second Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places

1/2 cup coconut oil
6 tablespoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg, beaten
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon hot water
1 1/8 cup flour, sifted (I used whole wheat pastry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup nuts, chopped (I used walnuts and pecans)
1/2 cup white chocolate morsels
1 teaspoon vanilla (I used the seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean)
Cranberries would have been a good addition. Add some if you want! They’ll be pretty!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together coconut oil and sugar.
Add egg and vanilla bean scrapings.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water and then add to batter.
Sift flour and salt together and add to mixer a little at a time until completely incorporated.
Stir in nuts and chocolate morsels.
Line a baking dish (mine is 11×7 in. but a bigger one would be better) with parchment paper.
Spread cookie dough over paper to cover the bottom of the dish. The dough will be relatively soft so this is actually pretty easy.
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool. You can lift the “cookie” out of the dish and onto a wire rack using the parchment paper.
Once the cookie is cooled, cut out house shapes in as efficient a pattern as possible.
Start looking for a giant milk moat for your houses!

16 Comments

Filed under desserts

16 Responses to Toll Houses

  1. HAHAAH!! Love it. Darned that forgotten grocery list item. It’s sometimes the biggest agent for change, isn’t it? I love the house shape, too. As always, I love reading your posts, and thank you for participating in the swap! So glad you’re a part of it, and I can’t wait to see your next post!

  2. Congratulations on your new house!! That is so exciting. And what a great idea to use coconut oil instead of butter…I always forget to substitute that for butter. White chocolate chips and whole wheat flour sound like nice hearty substitutions too!

  3. I love the house shape! What a fun spin on the swap.

  4. So glad to hear I am not the only one who’s a little cokoo for cutters :) Your houses are adorable, and thanks for the tip on using coconut oil instead of butter.

  5. Noticed the houses right away and thought how very charming and they are. But so was your story and I guess this butteraholic must find some coconut oil; I bet it was unique AND good. Love this.

  6. I am so meticulous about making my list then always forget to bring it to the store. So can totally relate. These are totally cute and meaningful too. Congrats on your house.

  7. Oh my goodness so many things in this post made me smile! The houses are adorable (and congratulations on the house!!) and I often switch things up in recipes simply because I’ve forgotten or run out of something. Sometimes the most brilliant mistakes, right! This recipe looks DELICIOUS! Happy Holidays!

  8. Rachel could you (and your husband) be any cuter? I think not. Love that you have your Grandmother’s mixer (I love having the ordinary things of my Grandmother’s nested in my day) and that you cut these out like little houses.

  9. I love the little houses, and what a great way to use your new cookie cutter for the toll house cookie! Perfection!

  10. Wow. These are adorable. What an awesome way to celebrate the new house. Congrats!!

  11. Yay for a new house! And for cookies in the shape of a house! So so so darling. I love this post! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — I’m so glad you’re part of our swap!

  12. these little cookies are adorable! great job on using what you had in the house…congrats on the new one!

  13. Shucks, you didn’t have to fess up – I would have bought your story about the healthier fats:) But I love improvisation and you managed to pull it of with success!
    Congratulations on your first house – it’s one of the best feelings in the world:)
    And my husband also buys kitchen tools and gadgets for me – going to HomeGoods is as exciting for him, as it is for me.
    Your cookies are adorable and I have to try cooking more with coconut oil.

  14. Those cookies look so chewy delicious! I love that you used coconut oil…and I love even MORE the white chocolate addition!

  15. Isn’t your husband a sweet heart to buy you cookie cutters at random! I have to show my husband this!
    Its funny how we all have made cookies from the recipe that yellow bag carried. We never got that Nestle choc chip yellow bag in India while I was growing up but one of my parent’s friends at US embassy here in India would give my mom some bags whenever he could. I remember how my brother and I would devour them.
    What a great interpretation of the toll house cookie you did and I would have never thought of using coconut oil in my baked goods. Would love to try your version out some day.

  16. Kudos to you for embracing coconut oil! It’s one of my favorite fats to use, so health-supportive AND delicious! These cookies are so adorable. I love the story behind your cookie cutters!

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