DEAR SOS: I am planning to write a small article on the history of the Toll House Cookie for our inter-office newsletter, since everyone is familiar with that popular treat. Do you have any information on the subject?
DEAR SUSAN: According to the Nestle Co., the trademarked cookie got its name from an old toll house on the outskirts of Whitman, Mass. Built in 1709 at the halfway point between Boston and New Bedford, Mass., the toll house became a haven for weary travelers who stopped for food, drink and rest while they waited for a change of horses.
In 1930, the old toll house was purchased by a couple named Wakefield (their first name has been lost), who turned the house into the Toll House Inn. Mrs. Wakefield experimented with a Colonial cookie called the butter drop do, but added tiny bits of semisweet chocolate to the cookie dough, half expecting them to melt. Instead, the bits of chocolate held their shape, softening just slightly to a creamy texture. Mrs. Wakefield named her discovery the Toll House Cookie.
Later, with Mrs. Wakefield's permission, Nestle put the recipe on the wrapper of their semisweet chocolate bar. As popularity grew, Nestle, seeking ways to make cooking with bits of chocolate easier, started producing a scored chocolate bar accompanied by a chopper for cutting the chocolate into small bits. In 1939, Nestle offered little pieces of chocolate in ready-to-use packages, calling the product Semi-Sweet Real Chocolate Morsels.
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate pieces
1 cup chopped nuts
Combine flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
Combine butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla and beat until creamy. Beat in eggs.
Gradually add flour mixture and mix well. Stir in semisweet chocolate pieces and nuts. Divide dough into 24 to 30 pieces for medium cookies or 12 to 15 pieces for large cookies.
Form each into ball and place on ungreased baking sheet. Lightly press into 3- to 4-inch patty for large cookies, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Bake at 375 degrees 5 to 7 minutes for small cookies and 10 to 12 minutes for large cookies. Makes 24 to 30 small cookies or 12 to 15 large cookies.
DEAR SOS: I'm very upset about losing a Times' Food Section "My Best Recipe" for flank steak marinated with soy sauce and other ingredients.
DEAR F.M.L: Cheer up. The lost recipe, shared by Ellin N. Crawford of West Hollywood in 1985, is yours once again. Actually it's a fine recipe for using a tender meat that's also lower in fat than many beef cuts.
MARINATED FLANK STEAK
1 medium flank steak
Butter or margarine
Finely chopped chives or parsley
Trim meat of fat and membrane. Clip around edges about 1/2 inch into meat at 3-inch intervals. Place in shallow glass baking dish or stainless steel bowl. Pour Marinade over steak. Let stand at least 8 hours or overnight in refrigerator, turning occasionally.
Remove steak from Marinade and pat dry. Place on broiler rack about 2 to 3 inches from heat source. Broil 1 1/2 minutes on each side.
Place steak on cutting board. Butter top lightly and let stand few minutes. Slice across grain into very thin slices and transfer to heated platter. Sprinkle with chives or parsley. Pour pan juices over top. Makes 4 servings.
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine or very dry Sherry
1/2 cup light soy sauce
2 large cloves garlic, coarsely sliced or lightly crushed
2 small bay leaves, crumbled
1 to 1 1/2 dried red chiles, cut in half
1 inch piece ginger root, peeled and coarsely sliced, optional
Combine Worcestershire, water, wine, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, chiles and ginger. Mix well. Makes about 2 cups.