Chocolate Chip Cookies: Buy It Vs. Make It
One time, I was at a friend’s house when she announced she was going to make some chocolate chip cookies. She scooped some flour out of her jar, she grabbed some butter from the fridge—and at no point did she consult a book, not even the back of the package of chocolate chips. “Don’t you need the recipe?” I asked, amazed. “Duh,” she said. “I’m just making the Toll House ones.”
I felt like I was in the presence of Mrs. Walton. Or, at least, Mrs. Fields. Memorizing a recipe? Who does that?
A little more poking around told me that people got the best results from a combination of butter and shortening. Butter has more liquid and more flavor, but shortening has a different melting point, so used together they create a cookie with the right spread and texture. (Nice news: Crisco now has only 50 percent trans fats and no hydrogenated oils, though the stuff I get, Spectrum Organics, has no trans fats. And is gross. But so is Crisco; you knew that.)
Anyway, luckily enough, I found the perfect basic chocolate-chip cookie recipe with the right combination of shortening and butter. For comparison’s sake, I bought the ol’ breakup-night favorite, a tube of refrigerated cookie dough. Om nom NOM. The things I do for you people!
Cost: This time, it’s actually cheaper to buy the refrigerated dough. It’s hard to say how much it comes out to per cookie, because I never get the right amount of cookies for a recipe. But per recipe, it comes out to about $4.50 (before the chips) for my fancy-pants variety (organic eggs and butter and white whole-wheat flour), and about $2 (before the chips) even with nonorganic ingredients. I specify “before the chips” because people are unbelievably snotty about their baking chocolate, and like to buy Ghirardelli instead of Hershey’s. ‘Scuse ME!
Meanwhile, the tube is on special at my local Safeway for $2.50 a tube. Not much of a savings to make them yourself, unless you’re feeling picky about your ingredients.
Effort: These are not hard to make. If you’re going to open and slice a tube, you can throw some ingredients in a bowl. You don’t even really need to take out the electric mixer—it all goes in there pretty easily, though I’ll cop to using the Cuisinart because I am just that lazy and have a dishwasher.
Taste: Well, I’m sorry. I find the supermarket variety to be too salty. I like mine much better.
The Verdict: Buy it if you are going to eat it raw (yeah, I’m looking at you, woman at her desk at 3pm on a Tuesday feeling like the week is never going to end, and also you, woman who got dumped and worries that she will be alone forever and also wonders if that’s really such a bad thing, and oh my god, is that Theresa from RHONJ on Celebrity Apprentice?). Also, buy it if you just want warm cookies and really don’t care to either health ‘em up or upgrade your chips. Otherwise, just make it, because it’s EASY.