’40s Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies

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Despite WWII rationing, food historians report that sugar consumption spiked in the ’40s. This cookie could be largely responsible. Created by Ruth Wakefield in the 1930s for service at her family’s Toll House Inn, just outside Whitman, MA, the cookie quickly caught the attention of both Nestle, who bought the rights to put the recipe on its chocolate packages—and Betty Crocker, who featured the cookie on her “Famous Foods from Famous Places” radio show in 1939. That show, plus the ’40s newspaper ads Nestle ran with the recipe, launched the cookie into still-glowing stardom. Wakefield’s original recipe was made by breaking up two, seven-ounce bars of Nestle’s Semi Sweet chocolate into pea-sized bits. Once Nestle started manufacturing the bits as Nestle’s Semi-Sweet morsels, that became the standard. Here’s the recipe from the 1948 edition of Wakefield’s “Toll House Tried and True Recipes.”

Makes 100 cookies (!) according to RW-- but she scooped only 1/2 tsp for each. Makes 4-dozen more-amply-sized cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp soda dissolved in 1 tsp hot water
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 12-oz package Nestle Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels (NOTE: 1948 recipe called for two packages–but, we believe they were smaller bags as this would be way to many chips for the other ingredient quantities listed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Cream butter and sugars together. Beat in eggs, dissolve soda in hot water. Add alternately with flour that has been sifted with the salt. Add nuts and chocolate chips. Add vanilla. (NOTE: While RW had vanilla listed last, we think it works better to add it after the eggs.) Drop dough by 1/2-teaspoonfuls (NOTE: use more for larger cookies) onto a greased (or parchment-lined) cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 10 to 12 minutes. NOTE: RW added the following note with her recipe: “At Toll House, we chill dough overnight. When mixture is ready for baking, we roll a teaspoon of dough between palms of hands and place balls 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Then we press balls with finger-tips to form flat rounds. This way cookies do not spread as much in baking and keep uniformly round. They should be brown through and crispy, not white and hard as I have sometimes seen them.”

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