Everybody needs on recipe they can depend on, a signature dish, so to speak. This is my most trusted cookie recipe and it comes with a fabulous story that will explain why it's so good.
When I was working at the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance camp in Mississippi in December of 2006 we shared the camp with a famiy from California. In lieu of their traditional ski trip that year, their Christmas present to themselves was to help with the rebuilding from Katrina. The father was a fireman, they had two teenaged sons and the mom was one of those ladies who I could tell spent a lot of time cooking. I would bet money she was the PTA president.
For dessert one night Susan looked through the pantry of the kitchen to take stock of what was available. She had a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe she had used so many times that she carried it around in her head. She told me she could substitute a lot of ingredients if she needed to as long as she kept the same basic proportions.
That was the day she discovered a secret ingredient I have always used in this cookie, an ingredient no one ever guesses and one that adds a certain "something" that makes all the difference in the world. The ingredient? One staple all the PDA camps had on hand: Raisin Bran cereal.
I have changed only one thing in the recipe Susan Schwaiger gave me that day. Instead of Raisin Bran cereal I use plain Bran cereal because I hate raisins. You can put them in your cookies. I don't care what you do with your own cookies.
Preheat the oven to 325 or 350 degrees
1 cup of butter (2 sticks) set out to soften
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
cream the butter and add the rest mixing well
This is the basis. You can get creative as you go along. I would stay with the flour and oatmeal but from then on you can do what you want as long as you keep the same number of cups of "stuff". I personally don't mess with these ingredients here since they've never failed me.
2 cups flour
2 cups oatmeal
2 cups bran flakes
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cups chopped pecans
I have a cookie/ small ice cream scoop I got at Walmart. It looks like it holds a Tablespoon. I scoop out the cookie dough with that and this recipe will make exactly six dozen cookies using the scoop.
Watch the oven. Sometimes it takes longer than 8 minutes, sometimes less.
If you use Mexican vanilla it really makes a difference. The easiest way to buy Mexican vanilla is to go on a mission trip over the summer and buy some while you're there.