Friday, July 17, 2015

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies are a favorite of Mount Holyoke College students and alumnae -- and perhaps the best chocolate chip cookie EVER. 

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies

Heads up, peeps: This is not really one of my usual healthy recipes. But, as a firm believer in moderation rather than denial, I'm sharing it anyway.

Because cookies.

Wicked. Awesome. Cookies. With a story.

Some of you may know that I am an alumna of Mount Holyoke College in Western Massachusetts. As a nearly 200-year-old college for women, my alma mater has quite a few traditions that we alumnae hold dear.

Apparently the Chef Jeff cookie is one of them.

I say "apparently" because these cookies didn't exist during my tenure at Mount Holyoke. When I was an undergrad, we were fortunate enough to not have to endure typical university-style centralized dining. No, my friends, we took each of our meals in the common dining room of our residence halls, eating and socializing like a family. Dining regularly with those with whom you lived built an indescribable sense of community, the reaches of which I still feel on a daily basis, no matter how far away from the campus I move.

Alas, due to some questionable decisions on the part of administrators and trustees over the years since I graduated, that community dining experience has become a thing of the past. While it breaks my heart to see current students waiting in line in the campus center for burgers and pizza instead of sitting in a communal dining room, sharing dorm-home-cooked meals family style, I have found small consolation in the one bright spot born of this campus center dining experience:

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies.

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies

Jeff Sadowski, a former on-campus chef and more recent cookbook author, is said to have started making his famous chocolate chip cookies available for sale when he transferred from in-dorm chef to manager of the remodeled campus center central cafe in the late 1990s.

(Sidebar: Whether or not Sadowski actually single-handedly created this cookie recipe is currently in question, as unearthed by some intrepid student reporters. Team effort or one man's work, the cookie still bears Sadowski's name.)

These cookies have become the stuff of legend, for their unique blend of crunchiness (around the edges) and chewiness (in the middle).

So, being The Ninj, I tracked down Sadowski's recipe to see what all the fuss was about.

Bottom line? It's not fuss. It's truth.

Best. Chocolate. Chip. Cookies. EVER.

Now, many of you will be quick to point out that the recipe is quite similar to the traditional Toll House cookie recipe -- and you're pretty much correct. However, I think the biggest difference and Sadowski's secret is in the mixing: you must cream the butter and sugar for a lot longer than you would think (I've heard 10 minutes, but, being all Type A, I lost patience at about 6 -- maybe you are more Zen).

Also, it's key to remove the cookies from the oven before they really look done. Trust me: that's how the centers remain chewy. So be sure to watch for just the slightest browning around the edges and then yank 'em outta that oven to cool.

So far, I've had the honor of making these Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies for not one but two different groups of Mount Holyoke alumnae, some for whom they were a regular college staple and others for whom they were a brand new treat.

Both agreed that they are a tradition worth preserving.

Did you have any unique food traditions at your alma mater, as I did? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to know.

Chef Jeff chocolate chip cookies

Chef Jeff Chocolate Chip Cookies

(recipe courtesy of Jeff Sadowski via the Recipes Beyond the Gates student cookbook project)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, whisk together the first four ingredients (flour through salt) and set aside. Cream together the sugars and the butter, using a mixer, until very light and fluffy (optimally, this should take between 5-10 minutes!). Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well blended. Gradually add the flour to the butter mixture, followed by the chocolate chips, and mix until blended (do NOT overmix).

Spoon the dough onto a prepared baking sheet, spacing the cookies several inches apart, as they will spread. Bake for *about* 10-11 minutes, or until the edges just begin to brown but the centers are not completely cooked. Cool for a minute on the pan then place cookies on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 12 large cookies.
-- print recipe --


  1. Never met a chocolate chip cookie I didn't like and these look amazing Jules. I enjoyed the story behind the cookies as much as the recipe. Food is such an integral part of life....and p.s., I'm not all Zen and probably would've quit at 5....

    1. Ha ha ha, glad I'm not the only impatient one! Hope you give these cookies a try, Allie -- thanks for stopping by!

  2. I was lucky enough to experience both dorm dining and Chef Jeff cookies. Can't wait to try this!

  3. Don't worry - the dinings halls stuck around for a while! They're sadly now switching to a massive centralized dining plan, but while the central cafe is/was always available, dining halls still provided the bulk of the food :) Wilder dairy days were going to be the death of me. (Class of '16)