Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ruth Reichl's Tiny Chocolate Chip Cookies {Plus Another Dear Ruth Letter}

Dear Ruth,

It's fitting that Deb and I elected Cabin Fever to be this week's theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Two words: polar vortex. This polar vortex brought record-breaking low temps and granted us three glorious days off school. Some people get cabin fever. Not me. I love snow days. I love being trapped inside.

You see, on these days, everything becomes ultimately quiet and peaceful. As the snow falls, and the frigid temperatures move in, people become scarce. No one is outside. The kids don't knock on the door. My kids cuddle with blankets and watch shows in their room. A hush falls over the house and it delivers absolute peace. Precious peace and quiet. I crave these days. I need them.I wait all year for them.

On this particular snow day, I was lounging on my couch with the dog while I was thumbing through your Gourmet cookbook. Looking for something sweet, and chocolatey, I found your recipe for Tiny Chocolate Chip Cookies. Having never made tiny cookies I decided to give this recipe a go.

Scooping tiny cookies did give me pause, but I was feeling especially patient since I was well-rested and totally at peace.

Perhaps I gave myself too much credit, Ruth. For I was about to learn that I am not patient under any circumstances. You see, you required me to scoop rounded 1/2 teaspoons of dough for these cookies, Ruth. I don't know if math is your strong suit, Ruth. It's certainly not mine, but that is about 150 cookies. Do you know how small 1/2 teaspoons is, Ruth? I mean, really, and truly. The chocolate chip itself is about 1/2 teaspoon. I can't believe you wanted me to do this 150 times! This is surely a form of torture, Ruth.

I feel I have to be honest here. I did cuss you while I was making these cookies, Ruth. It wasn't ladylike, I know. People would be shocked at how undone I came while scooping the dough. Truly shocked.

You ought to have seen my face when I pulled the first batch out of the oven and noticed that the cookies spread out and became flat and thin. Thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies? How dare you, Ruth! If there is anything that I can't stand it's a thin and crispy chocolate chip cookie.

Getting ready to blow a gasket, I slung the cookie sheet down and went out the back door huffing and puffing. Scooping all those cookies was too hard, and tried my patience far too much, for the cookies to turn out thin and crispy, Ruth. What about my pictures, Ruth? Thin, crispy cookies DO NOT make good pictures, Ruth. Now I was fuming mad. I had to just walk away.

It was 20 below outside and even the frigid temperature couldn't cool me down. Compelled to make it work, I went back in and tasted a cookie. Then another, and another, and maybe even another. Why did I keep eating your cookies, Ruth? I don't like thin crispy cookies. Except....

I literally couldn't quit eating them. I tried to go over and scoop more dough so I could finish baking, but I wanted another tiny, thin, crispy cookie.Yes, they were crispy and crumbly, but they were also salty and chocolately. Something about them was quite addictive.

I could not quit eating them. My daughter came downstairs and said "What's up with these cookies? They look so thin and crispy." Then she tried one and she said, "Wow, these are salty and delicious." Together, we ate one whole tray of tiny cookies. To be fair, this is okay because the cookies are tiny and eating 10 is really only like eating one or two regular cookies, right Ruth?

So, I apologize Ruth, for cussing you. I don't know that I would ever shape 150 cookies into 1/2 teaspoon rounds again, but these cookies were delicious, everyone loved them, and they were exceedingly fun to eat, so I do forgive you. I hope you'll forgive me too.

Yours Truly,

Tiny Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook
by Ruth Reichl
Makes a little over 12 dozen

1-1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) butter, softened
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3/4 teaspoonsalt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 400F.

Beat together butter, sugar, salt, and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and mix at low speed until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

Drop barely rounded 1/2 teaspoons of dough about 1-1/2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake in batches until golden brown, 6 to 7 minutes per batch. Transfer cookies to racks to cool.

Notes: I normally chill my cookie dough because I like thick and chewy cookies, so I chilled my dough for at least an hour.I used the same cookie sheet that I always use. I did question cooking the cookies at 400, since most cookies cook at 350. My first batch turned out darker than I like and I did think they spread out way too flat, so I lowered the temperature to 350 and chilled my dough some more. It really didn't matter what I did with the dough, what cookie sheet I used, or what temperature I set the oven to. These cookies all came out thin and crispy. These are not my favorite chocolate chip cookie, but they are delicious in their own right. If you are patient, and like thin and crispy cookies, then this may be the recipe for you!

Cabin Fever @ IHCC


  1. This is a riot and I shouldn't be laughing, Kim, I know. I don't take recipe's suggestions too seriously, for my sanity. Shaping cookies at 1/2 teaspoon is too much work. I'll say no to that, but yes to the thin crispy cookies.

  2. OMG I have a feeling my reaction would have been the same as yours...I HATE scooping cookies! But I'm glad it all turned out for the best and that at least it was worth the time.


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