Sunday, March 2, 2014

Toll House Chocolate Cookies, Everyday Foods, 1944 and a little about the estate sale that started it all!

Walking into the Katz Cohn home, crowded with crazed antique collectors and estate sale devotees, was a bit overwhelming.  There were too many people.  It was dusty.  There was so much to see that I lost my friend Susan, who came with me, almost immediately.  But when I turned left and saw the living room bookcases I took a big breath and foraged my way thru the crowd.  There in this beautiful and obviously formally decorated living room were four shelves of cookbooks, all covered in bright oilcloth.

I restrained myself and only bought 5 of the beautifully oil-clothed books.   

Have I ever mentioned how much I love oilcloth?   Especially vintage oilcloth.  The more colors the better.  Mrs. Katz Cohn didn't disappoint.   I crouched down and began going thru the books one at a time.  Some titles were labeled but most weren't.  The books all stuck together and every so often someone would reach over me to grab one for themselves.  Of course I was friendly but inside I was screaming, "Back off, bucko!  I was here first!!"

I happened upon this book, Everyday Foods.  It was first published in 1941 and then revised in 1944.   It was a Home Economics textbook!!!  If you're interested in vintage cooking this is sort of the holy grail.  Magazines are fun but you have to weed thru some wacky recipes like Tripe and applesauce Jello Salad to find meals that sound good.  (Want more food craziness?  Read this post.)  Home Ec in the 1950's was pretty reasonable.   It wasn't about impressing anyone with what you could do with a box of Jello.  The lessons were about running a home and making simple meals.  (Apparently by the late 1980's it was different.  Stacy, my good friend from college, was a Home Ec major.  One night when we were studying for finals she told me that a crown lamb roast could be cooked in the microwave if you covered the bones that stuck up with tin foil.  The foil just couldn't touch the sides, top, or bottom, of the micro.  Now that's way wacky!!)

Anyway, browsing thru this textbook I saw a recipe for "Toll House Chocolate Cookies".  It looked similar to the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I've been making since I was a child and is on every yellow bag of Toll House Chocolate Chips sold today.  Here's the original recipe:

The big differences are the original recipe calls for generic "fat", not specifically butter, the brown sugar and white sugar aren't in equal amounts, and the chocolate is from a bar and has to be chopped before adding to the batter.  (This is before the famous Toll House Chocolate chips, aka the stone age!!!)  Also the recipe is for a half batch, based on the modern recipe's ingredients, but it makes 50 small cookies.  I don't think I could ever get 50 cookies out of the 12 ounce bag recipe I use  (Partially because me and my kids have an addiction to raw cookie dough.  Hubby thinks we're nuts, which we may truly be...)  so these must have been some really tiny cookies.

This week was my oldest's 16th birthday so upon her request I made her a chocolate chip cookie cake.  She asked me not to experiment so didn't but I was honestly tempted.  Here's the recipe from the Toll House website.  It's the same as on the yellow package of chocolate chips.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
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.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: 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.

Here's my big girl's birthday cake.  I'm more of a baker than a cake decorator but she loved it nonetheless!

I'm working on a new recipe to post this week.  Stay tuned!  :)