It’s my job, and I take my responsibilities seriously.
For the sake of my work and out of my never-ending devotion to you, my beloved readers, last Monday I flew to Cleveland, Ohio* to celebrate the 75th birthday of the Nestlé chocolate morsel. The Nestlé team called the event “Morsels Camp”. In truth, I had hoped there would be a Chocolate Chip Parade, with Chocolate Chip Floats, aboard which a regal Chocolate Chip Queen would sit, resplendent in robes of ribboning (you guessed it) chocolate while rotating her delicate hand ever so slightly back and forth in a wave, as queens are wont to do.
I was wrong, though not at all disappointed. What I got was as good as a parade.
Did you know that the Nestlé chocolate morsel has a signature peak that is unlike any other morsel? The despondent non-Nestlé morsel in the picture below brings to mind the homely stepchild who might forever be banished to the back room to sweep cinders from the fireplace. (For the record, while her peak may not be as glorious, her flavor is close– which is a lovely lesson in not passing judgement based solely on appearance.)
Now I have something very important to tell you. There is a new chocolate chip in town, and she is no elegant beauty with a graceful peak, nor is she the sorrowful stepchild. She’s more like a Kardashian, really– and as luck would have it, she’s arrived with her ribald sisters in tow. This curvaceous new queen is fuller than her morsel cousin…because she is filled with caramel. That’s right: a chocolate chip filled with caramel. Think about what happens when you bite into that kind of sweet thing. I would happily eat the cherry, caramel or peanut butter chips in cookies, on their own– or simply pop a few every morning, like vitamins.
But back to the meeting: So there I was, in the Nestlé culinary center, learning how this Swiss company came to own a piece of Americana, and musing about the possibility of a chocolate chip parade (would they throw cookies instead of ticker tape?), when they hit us with these vixen chips. No sooner had we oohed and aahed they then divided us into four groups, each led by a renowned pastry chef.
I am not using the term “renowned” lightly. The chefs were Sherry Yard, the Brooklyn-born long-time L.A. chef for Wolfgang Puck who is about to open her own Helms Bakery District ; Amanda Rockman, the extraordinarily creative pastry chef at Chicago’s Nico who my husband and I (along with the Top Chef Just Desserts viewing audience) have a crush on (Dibs–I found her first!); Lior Lev Sercarz, the brilliant mastermind behind La Boîte , a spice “shop” like no other; and my group’s leader, Chef Richard Capizzi, (formerly of Per Se) whose food I loved at New York’s Lincoln restaurant before I even knew what a smart, kind man he was, and who had coincidentally met Ebo when they were both on a team of folks who donated their talent to raise nearly $1 million dollars in one night for Cookies for Kids Cancer.
Maybe these aren’t the types of chefs you would associate with ingredients that are the Kardashians of the food world, but under their tutelage those filled chips sang like they’d just escaped a nunnery. Thanks to Richard, my group (which included Ebo), made this little delight in under an hour: A double chocolate cherry chip cookie with marshmallow creme and pistachio butter.
Here I am, pretending to have created the pistachio creme.
You don’t have to be a chef at the Sherry-Amanda-Lior-Richard level to make beautiful things happen with these filled chips, called “Delightfulls”. (Get it?) The classic Toll House Cookie recipe– the one we’ve all grown up with, that is on the back of every bag– gets all flashy and fashionista when you sub in the filled chips instead. Or, tweak the basic recipe just a teeny tiny bit to make it enhance the filling flavor. That’s what I did in the recipe below.
There is nothing in this world wrong with the classic Toll House Chocolate Chip cookie made with semi-sweet morsels. But go ahead and get jiggy with it: do it with caramel chocolate chips because now you can.*
Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is very similar to the classic Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip recipe. There are minor changes in the amount of flour, and I use more brown sugar and less white to enhance the caramel flavor. One of the biggest differences is that I use higher fat Kerrygold butter. You will get similar rich, buttery cookies with other European (high fat) butter, and a more classic Toll House Cookie when you use American butter.
8 ounces butter, at room temperature
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 9-ounce package Nestlé caramel-filled morsels, divided
1. Preheat the oven to 375°, with two racks in the middle third of the oven. Line two baking sheet pans with parchment paper (or use nonstick pans).
2. Beat the butter lightly with an electric mixer. Add the brown and white sugars and beat on medium speed until well-combined and creamy.Add one egg and beat; add the second egg and beat until smooth.
3. Combine the flour, salt and baking soda in a small bowl; gradually add it to the butter mixture. Stir in all but 1/3 cup of the caramel chocolate chips.
4. Use a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon measure to scoop balls of the batter about 2-inches apart on the baking sheets. Top each cookie with one of the reserved chips. (If any of the chips in the batter stick up, I cover them with a little of the batter so the top chip gets all the attention.)
5. Bake a total of 9-10 minutes, rotating the pans front to back and top to bottom about half way through cooking. Remove from the oven, let cool 5 minutes and transfer the cookies to wire racks to finish cooling. Refill the baking sheet pans (you can re-use the parchment paper) and repeat.
Yield: about 5 dozen, depending on how much batter you eat
*No Cleveland jokes, please: it is where my father was born and raised.
*The filled morsels should be on your grocery store shelf in September.