Canal House Chocolate Chip Cookies

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A couple of weeks ago, a friend told me she had checked out Canal House Cooks Every Day from the library and described it as the loveliest cookbook she had seen in a long time. Middle child that I am, afraid to miss out on any fun, I immediately followed suit. That night by the light of my itty bitty book lamp, I poured through every chapter, making mental notes of ingredients to purchase and recipes to try, feeling more wound up with every page I turned, finally closing my eyes to a photo of a sheet pan lined with chocolate chip cookies, the last beautiful image in the book.

The following morning, before even thinking about coffee, I set butter out to soften and turned to the recipe, credited to Katherine Yang, a New York City pastry chef. When the Canal House ladies sought Yang’s guidance for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, Yang passed along this one, a thin and crisp variety, one that perfectly balances that irresistible salty-sweet dynamic — there’s no need to top these off with any flakes of fancy sea salt. Crisp on the edges, chewy in the center, buttery with chocolate chunks throughout, these delicate cookies are enough to convert the thick-and-chewy-chocolate-chip-cookie lover in me forever. They are delectable. Even Ben, who never does any heavy lifting in the dessert department, eats them by the half dozen and swears he could eat them by the whole. I wouldn’t put it past him.

While I know the last thing many of you need is another cookbook, I am confident none of you would regret this addition to your libraries. And while these chocolate chip cookies, as simple and classic and timeless as they are, in some ways perfectly capture the spirit of the Canal House cooks, they aren’t perhaps the best reflection of the cookbook. With chapters organized by the months of the year, the book’s recipes are driven by the seasons, not only its produce gems — peas and favas in the spring, squash and apples in the fall — but also its preparations — grilled salmon in the summer, braised brisket in the winter.

Be warned: If you acquire it soon, it will make you seriously regret having not visited more pick-your-own strawberry farms this past May and might make you feel you squandered asparagus season entirely. But don’t despair: you will redeem yourself soon, vowing to make every tomato recipe in the August chapter. The book is inspiring to say the least. It will make you want to hang your pots and pans from the rafters and tie up your apron with pride every time you set to work. It will make you covet your mother-in-law’s china collection and make you want to scour flea markets (or have a field day at Fish’s Eddy) for vintage serving platters. It might inspire you to clear off your kitchen table and break out your pasta roller. It might make you a pickler, a poacher, a preserver.

As you read the vignettes, you’ll find yourself daydreaming about how you might get into mushroom foraging this fall, and although you’ve felt quite lazy in recent months, you think you might even consider peeling — yes, stalk by stalk — your asparagus next spring. And if your pleasure reading gets interrupted one more time, perhaps by a disagreeable toddler throwing himself at your feet, you might find yourself wishing to be nothing more than a duck floating along the canal ready to snatch up bread and any other nuggets tossed out the Canal House studio’s open French doors. Ahhh, where would we be without our dreams?

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Canal House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Source: Canal House Cooks Every Day

Notes: You can make this batter and store it in the fridge for a week, baking off cookies as you like. I like to weigh (so anal and totally unnecessary) my cookie balls before baking and found that 1 oz (28 g) was a nice size for these cookies. Also, I find “thin and chewy” as opposed to “thin and crisp” to be a better description of these cookies. Also, I used Kerrygold butter because I had it, but it’s not necessary. Finally, I found a 350 degree oven to be a better temperature for my cookies — mine browned a little too much at 375 — but this might not be the same for your oven, so start with 375 and then adjust accordingly.

Also, if you like thick-and-chewy chocolate chip cookies, try these.

10 ounces room temperature high-fat butter, such as Kerrygold
1¼ cups (298g) dark brown sugar (I used light)
¾ cup (149g) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract (I used extract)
2 teaspoons kosher salt*
2 large eggs
1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons (265g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 ounces chocolate chips

*It seems like a lot, but go for it…I even used salted butter, which I don’t typically use or recommend, and the cookies were not too salty.

1. Preheat the oven to 375° (or 350º…see note above). Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla bean paste, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until light, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and mix on medium speed until blended, about 2 minutes.

2. Whisk the flour and baking soda together, then add to the dough, continuing to mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Using a spatula, quickly mix the dough, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Drop the batter by the well-rounded tablespoon, about 4 inches apart, onto the parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 10–11 minutes. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool.

83 Comments

  1. I have the three volumes of Canal House Cooking, but not the Every Day you mentioned… I wonder if the recipes are all different in your version?

    Lovely cookies… I am beyond impressed that you weight your cookies for consistency. WOW! They did turn out as professionally baked in the best bakery of Paris…

    Reply
  2. Too many cookbooks……I don’t think so!!!! I’m a goodbook junkie. Think I’ll add this one to the list.

    Thanks, I continue to love your blog.

    Reply
  3. Too many cookbooks……I don’t think so!!!! I’m a cookbook junkie. Think I’ll add this one to the list.

    Thanks, I continue to love your blog.

    Reply
  4. These look so good, I am always making different versions of chocolate chip cookies even though I still have a favourite. Just out of curiosity why the question mark by the vanilla bean paste?

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    • Carol H — I removed the question mark but I guess not in time :) It was really just a note for me while I was typing up the recipe. I was confused — was the recipe really suggesting to use a tablespoon of vanilla bean paste, which I took to mean the caviar of vanilla beans, which of course would be delicious, but also kind of a splurge for chocolate chip cookies, right?

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  5. Those cookies look beautiful and your description of the book has convinced me I should buy it for my mum, who’s at home on my parents farm in Cornwall, the UK. I think I’ll give this recipe a go too. Thanks.

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    • Stephanie — I used Morton’s kosher salt. Do you have a preference? I used to use Diamond all the time — it’s what we used at the restaurant all the time — but for whatever reason, now I buy Morton’s. I don’t actually think they sell Diamond at my Giant? I don’t know…I haven’t thought about this in awhile :)

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    • Trish — I have been a thick-and-chewy chocolate chip cookie lover for years, but for whatever reason, these cookies took me back to my youth and to the cookies my mom used to make for us, and I just find them irresistibly delicious!

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  6. I love thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies but these look too good to pass up! If I were Superman, chocolate chip cookies would be my kryptonite. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. These look delish, Ali, and I like the sound of the cookbook. It is one I should add to the collection? Also, are these better than your other chocolate cookies that are my go-to?

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    • Darcy — im afraid so :) i think you will really like it. I leave it on my coffee table all the time bc it’s just too fun to look at. As for the cookies, they are just different. I never thought I would like a thin chocolate chip cookie again, but these are just so good…they go down easy :)

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  8. Beautiful cookies! Checking out books from the library is also my way of not keeping an overwhelming amount of cookbooks in the house. You’ve reminded me I need to request this one. Done!

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  9. Ali I recently purchased a bottle of Vanille Bean Paste after getting out Bouchon Bakery from the library and noting that TK uses paste for his cookies as well. (interesting note: he also uses a bit of molasses in his chocolate chip cookie recipe, which yields a very large, very thick, and very tasty cookie ). The paste was easy to come by on amazon and not all that much more expensive than a nice bottle of extract (maybe $10?)

    Reply
    • Batesy — Thanks! For all of this! I can’t believe I have never heard of vanilla bean paste. Very curious. I will have to buy a bottle. $10 seems very reasonable especially compared to bottles of extract. Also intrigued by molasses in the cookies, which I bet creates an awesome texture.

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  10. I went home and made these last night. And I don’t regret that decision. Especially since I only baked off 12 cookies and stashed the rest of the dough in the freezer. #truth.

    I’m wondering if the reference to 298 g brown sugar is right if the volume measure is 1 1/4 cup.

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    • Wendi — so happy to hear this! How nice is it to have cookie dough on hand? I’m out at the moment and am feeling withdrawal. I did use 298g of brown sugar, so I think it’s right. Did you use 1.25 cups?

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  11. I went by the weight measure. And then because I’m weird like that, and it looked like way more than 1.25 cups, I packed it into measuring cups and came out more like 1.5 cups.

    The reason I ask is because I had a huge amount of spread…my cookies are HUGE and sort of see throughish, which I didn’t expect. I couldn’t tell from your picture whether your cookies did the same.

    PS, I’m just up 95 N in Baltimore in case you want to make a run up for some dough ; )

    Reply
    • Haha, Ok, I love it, though with traffic, I might not get there till Sunday :) OK, so I should definitely make a note of this, but if you chill the dough balls or the batter, and bake them when they are cold or coldish, they will spread less. Only one batch of mine spread as you described but I think it was a combination of the balls being too big and being at room temperature. Also, nice detective work on the brown sugar — I should also make a note of that. The Canal House ladies did make a note that Yang relied on weights to do her measurements, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the volume measures are a little off. Thanks for reporting that!

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    • Stephanie, hi! No, it’s not your computer. I added the plugin this morning — something I’ve been meaning to do forever — but I think something is not quite right. I’ll look into it tonight.

      I don’t think Diamond will be too salty, one bc I used salted butter, and the cookies were not too salty, but two, if my memory serves me well, I think Diamond kosher salt might even be coarser than Morton’s? I’ll have to do a comparison some time. Either way, I think you’re good to go!

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  12. Ok just made these for a family reunion here in the mountains of NC. A HUGE hit. But like another commenter mine were almost lacy! (Which was actually the thing everyone liked best). I baked by weight and also fridgerated dough for about 4 hours. Interesting!

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  13. Now that I’ve snuck a bit of frozen cookie dough, I may never bake this off again. Seriously, the frozen dough is perfection. But I should test and see if the frozen dough spreads measurably less than the refrigerated dough.

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  14. Bates– I am perplexed! Ok, just a couple of thoughts: how big were your cookie balls? 1-oz balls are surprisingly small. And how long did you bake them for? I would take my cookies out at 10 min, when they still looked light in the middle and kind of puffy, so when they cooled, they sunk and the choc chips would sort or surface if you know what I mean. Final thought: cooking temp? It’s possible that a 375 temp might prevent the spreading somewhat.

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  15. Wendi — I love it. Maybe an eggless batch should be prepared for choc chip cookie dough ice cream? I would be very curious as to how the frozen dough bakes.

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  16. This is my favorite type of Chocolate Chip Cookie – thin and crisp. I must try the recipe. Thanks so much! The Vanilla Bean Paste does seem like a hefty dose indeed, but I bet that that amount of the syrupy concoction lends an intense depth of vanilla flavor to these cookies. It’s been quite a while since I have used Vanilla Bean Paste. I’ll have to zip out and purchase a bottle before I make these.

    I say one can never have too many cookbooks. They are my preferred bedtime reading, and my collection has long since overflowed the shelves in my library!

    This is my first visit to yoru very ourderful site. I’ll be a regular visitor now. Congratulations on some very gorgeous work.

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  17. Adri — thank you so much for your kind words. And I know, I am definitely going to have to order a jar of vanilla bean paste myself. Very intrigued. Thanks so much for writing in and welcome!

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  18. I rushed to Amazon and bought the book! As soon as the truck dropped off my new cookbook I immediately dove in. I made these cookies tonight and they were fantastic. I already have my meals planned out for the week and each recipe is bookmarked. The nice thing about this cookbook is that I already have most of the ingredients on hand. Thank you for the introduction to this fabulous book!

    Reply
    • Valerie! I am so so happy to hear this. Isn’t the book a dream? My friend (Bates who commented here, too) who told me about it said she carried it around with her for weeks. I totally understand.

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  19. Ali, does it matter if you don’t use a butter like Kerrygold? My local shop doesn’t carry anything as nice as all that….I might try another place but if it doesn’t matter all that much I’ll probably just use my normal butter.

    Reply
    • Hi Laurie! I don’t think it matters. I just happened to have it on hand thanks to my mother, who likes to bring me these kinds of things, so I used it. I checked the label to compare it to standard super market butters, and the percentage of fat was identical, so I don’t know what the real difference is. The Canal House ladies suggested using a “high-fat” butter, which is why I used it, but it doesn’t actually appear to be higher in fat after all. It is tastier but I don’t know that its makeup is much different than standard butter. I hope that makes sense!

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  20. I baked some test cookies tonight. Frozen dough. 11 minutes. At 350 degrees I still got a lot of spread. At 375 degrees the cookies were less “lacey”. Either way they just might be my new go to chocolate chip cookie.

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  21. Oh, I can’t wait to try these. If only I could reach out and grab one of the cookies from the computer screen. The heat is the only thing that is keeping me away from turning on my oven, but I will bake them by tomorrow, come what may!
    Thanks.

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  22. Hi Ali! I found you via Fredericksburg.com – wonderful article! I am a local blogger and have been searching for others “like me”. So it’s so nice to meet you. Can’t wait to explore your posts and get to know you better. Lovely cookies! Congratulations on such a successful blog. Tricia

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    • Thanks, Tricia! I am going to check out your blog right now! I wish I had been able to get more involved in the local scene during my time here. Fredericksburg has some great spots. I have a to-do list before we head out of town for good. All the best to you!

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    • Katie, I know, I die, too. And what about recently? All of that chanterelle foraging? I want some tips. With my luck I will poison myself :) No,seriously though, I really want to forage for chanterelles and sauté them with butter and croutons and pretend I’m in the Canal House studio :)

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  23. These cookies turned out fantastically. Seriously the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. The brown sugar really added a hint of caramelization that any other cookies lacked. Crunch plus gooey. Thanks much.

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  24. Darn! I really think I followed the recipe exactly (though I didn’t weigh my dough balls!), and my cookies – while they taste delicious – don’t look anything like your gorgeous ones. Mine are not shiny, not “collapsed” around the chips – very dry looking and almost hollow inside. Any ideas? I have made a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my day, and your picture is my ideal. What can I try differently? Maybe I beat the butter too long? Or the eggs too long? I feel as though maybe there was too much air in the batter, which is lovely and very fluffy and shiny…

    Reply
    • Darn is right :( I’m sorry to hear this, but you’re not the only one who experienced different results. A few of the commenters described their cookies as lacy and very thin (mine were very thin, too, but still had a bit of chew). I haven’t been able to pinpoint what is causing the differences. I don’t think you could have overbeaten the butter. Perhaps the eggs, but unless you beat them for over 2 min, I doubt it would have made a difference. I have a few questions: How big were the balls you made? Small is best, and a rounded tablespoon (about an ounce) bakes into a surprisingly large cookie. Did you keep the portions of dough in balls versus flattening them out? Did you try chilling the dough balls before baking them? And what temp did you bake them at?

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  25. First of all, congratulations on your move! Thank you for taking the time to reply in the middle of all of that! How lucky you are to have apple and pear trees growing in your backyard…right now, I am flush with figs from my old tree, but you’ve got me thinking about planting…

    Anyway, the cookies. I don’t think I beat the eggs over 2 minutes, but maybe that was it. Something was weird about the texture of the batter – very shiny and airy, and the baked cookies came out pale and “matte” and dry-ish – not shiny at all. They were almost dry looking, while a little chewy in the middle. I started at 375, but lowered to 350 after the first batch came out looking so weird. That helped them collapse a little, but still they did not brown! Maybe I’ll try the Kerrygold. I made the balls using my smallest “disher” which is probably about an ounce, ounce-and-a-half. The cookies were small. I did not flatten them, nor did I chill the dough first (I will do that this time). I am going to try again, measuring even more carefully. By the way, my family (and their teenage friends, my niece and nephews) devoured them, proclaiming them delicious. But I want them to be pretty too :) I’ll let you know how they turn out…

    Reply
    • Mary, hi, and thank you! I am sorry it has taken me a few days to get back to you on this. I finally have internet, and I am finally feeling somewhat settled, so I am hoping to be more responsive from here on out.

      First of all, so jealous of your fig tree! What I wouldn’t do with an endless supply of figs on hand.

      As for the cookies, and I said this to Monroe (below), too, but I think I need to revisit this recipe because several people have had issues with spreading, and I can’t really figure out why.

      Also, I honestly forget what the batter looked like. When I made it, I portioned all the dough, stored the balls in the fridge and then baked 6 off at a time, but I can’t really remember what the freshly whipped dough looked like, and I can’t believe that I don’t have a photo to reference — I usually take so many process shots, which always helps with these sorts of questions. Anyway, what you are describing definitely sounds a little off, and I can’t pinpoint it because it sounds as though you were so precise and followed the recipe closely. Did you use dark brown sugar or light? Just curious. Next time I want to try dark brown sugar.

      I am so glad your family and your teenage friends enjoyed the cookies but I totally understand wanting them to look pretty, too. We’re going to get this right! I am heading to a friend’s house this week for a few days…I’m thinking we’ll need to make a batch. I will be sure to report back.

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  26. I love chocolate chip cookies (especially thin chewy ones) and I decided to try my hand with this recipe. After I mixed up the batter I tied it and the taste was awesome, but when I baked them they spread. I tried refrigerating the batter but that did not work. Any suggestion on how to keep them from spreading?

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    • Monroe — other people are experiencing this same issue. I think I need to revisit the recipe before I make any suggestions. I had a little bit of spread, but not quite as much as other people are having. My only suggestion at the moment is to make sure the balls are no bigger than a tablespoon. And also, to keep them in a mound when you drop them on the cookie sheet versus flattening them out, which I doubt you did, but just thought I’d mention that anyway. I will check back on this one soon I hope. Sorry for the trouble with the spreading :(

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  27. It’s been a while since I made these (thanks for the reminder), but I had massive spread issues with the Canal House recipe. I found that additional flour solved it. I made these with pulgra and flour from the bins at whole foods by the way – that may also have contributed to the additional spread. Anyway, if it helps, I just added additional tablespoonfuls until I thought the dough looked ok, then baked a test cookie or two until they looked right. My recollection is that I needed a few extra tablespoons to get them looking (something) like the photo. Not sure if its the four I used, the fat content of the butter, the temperature of my kitchen, or all of these – but that’s what worked for me.

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    • Loren, thank you for all of this. Great ideas. I love the idea of adding flour by the tablespoon and then baking off a test cookie…very smart. As you say, there are so many factors that play into the end result, and it’s hard to know what causes all of that spread. One of my friends (Bates, who commented above with spread issues) made them again and this time was careful to really beat the butter on high for 3 minutes. She didn’t have the same spread issues, but again, hard to say if this is what solved the issue or something else. Thanks so much for writing in!

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    • Rebecca, hi, and so sorry for this delayed response! I worry a little about you not having a mixer only because some people have had issues with spreading (as in the cookies spreading too far), I think this might be caused by not beating the butter and sugar for as long as the recipe says (3 minutes), and I feel that might be difficult to mimic by hand. That said, if you’re ok with a cooking that’s on the thin side, I say go for it.

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  28. Just made these and they are delicious! It’s like a caramel-y chocolate chip cookie. It’s the chewy texture that really makes the difference I think. Used Morton’s instead if sea salt, because I didn’t have it. Not too salty. Just the right amount for a nice salty/sweet flavor. Mine did spread, so next time I will beat the butter for longer. Glad to read that comment.

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  29. Despite creamkng the butter well, and using the scale to measure ingredients, mine also spread too much. Alas, the dough was already mixed and chilled so I rolled each dough ball in flour. I have only, so far, done a test cookie but it worked out just fine.
    delicious!! I love a well salted, buttery chcocolate chip cookie.

    Reply
    • Oh no! I have been meaning to revisit this recipe adding a teensy bit more flour to prevent the spreading as one commenter suggested. I’m sorry for the trouble! How far in advance did you roll the balls in flour? I’m wondering if it’s best to roll them in flour immediately before baking because maybe the dough absorbs that flour if it’s rolled too far in advance?

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  32. As a pastry chef, this recipe and pictures make me shudder in horror. Very few people would buy or eat cookies that looked like this. The large amount of butter is what makes them this way, and you can achieve thin and chewy cookies in other ways without these results.

    Reply
    • Wow, ok, well, I can say from experience that many people have loved these cookies, but since you are so horrified by them, maybe you could offer some guidance as to how you would have prepared them without all of the butter. Side note, the recipe comes a pastry chef from New York City who was asked by the authors of Canal House Cooks Every Day to create a recipe for the best chocolate chip cookie. This is the recipe she passed along.

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      • Hello again!

        I just wanted to say that I love these cookies. I have made them 5 times already and every time they make my day. Lesley’s comment made me think about how narrow minded people are :) Alexandra, you are doing a great job and this is my favourite cooking blog! Don’t let people’s taste/moods/arrogance bring you down! There are very many people who look up to you 50% because of your wonderful recipes and 50% because of your wonderful personality!

        LOVE!
        K

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        • Kristine, you are too too kind! Thank you thank you. This means so much to me. I am so happy you like these cookies. They are one of my favorites, too. And I wish Lesley had provided some more information in her comment because it was useless otherwise. I don’t understand the negativity! Alas, thank you again for writing in.

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      • Just wanted to let you know I just made these cookies with my 3 and 4 year olds and they were fantastic. 10 minutes at 350 and they were baked to perfection. I usually like big thick cookies but these have a beautifully thin and chewy texture that is to die for. The only thing horrifying about these cookies is how many of them I just ate.

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        • Haha, not horrifying at all :) I’m so happy to hear this. I am the same — I usually prefer a thick and chewy cookie, but there is something delicate and delicious about this thin and chewy one that I love. Thanks for writing in!

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    • As a total layperson I just have to say these are totally delicious. I made them tonight with my son and we were blown away. My friend who is staying over said , and I quote “these are several expletives not appropriate in front of children good!”

      I have to agree, cookies worth many expletives indeed.

      Reply

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