On the Chocolate Trail: The Iconic Chocolate Chip Cookie
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Did you know Massachusetts has a state cookie? It’s the chocolate chip cookie, an invention attributed to Ruth Graves Wakefield of the widely known Toll House Inn. Legend has it that having run out of her standard Baker’s chocolate, she broke up a bar of Nestlé semisweet and added it to her favorite recipe, Butter Drop Do cookies.
The reaction by travelers was instantaneous. Soon her recipe was published in the local newspaper, positively affecting sales of Nestlé semisweet bars. Then the fictitious Betty Crocker featured Wakefield’s Toll House chocolate chip cookie on the radio program, “Famous Foods from Famous Eating Places,” prompting Nestlé to invent the semisweet morsel in 1939. In exchange for using the recipe on the back of their semisweet bar and morsel bag, she was given a lifetime supply of chocolate chips.
If there were lifetime achievement awards for baking and chocolate making, instead of the Oscars, we might have the Wakefields and this year’s award would go to Kathleen King, producer of fifty million crisp multimorseled don’t-stop-till-you-drop chocolate chip cookies a year.
Starting at the age of eleven, King made cookies to sell at her parents’ farm in Southampton, New York. What was initially a means to buy her own clothes, also put her through college and gave her the funds to start her own bakery at age twenty-three, nearly thirty years ago.
Today she maintains the small town bustling bakery known as Tate’s Bake Shop (named for her father) and oversees massive production that sends the famous cookies all over the country and to Japan and St. Barth’s as well. Adapted from the original Toll House creation, King’s signature recipe can be found here and in her cookbook Tate’s Bake Shop Cookbook. A new cook book is forthcoming in 2012 with twenty-five of her favorites among new ones she is currently selecting. Part of the fun, she says in her business, is to be able to experiment all the time.
Her newest item is the Chocolate Chip Cookie Bark, Belgian dark chocolate encasing broken bits of chocolate chip cookies topped with toasted almonds. The effect is crispy, not too sweet, and light, a surprising variation on bark. Other chocolate items include the cakes: Blackout, chocolate fudge and chocolate pound, brownies, cupcakes, chocolate bread pudding and chocolate chip pie.Tate’s Bake Shop • 43 North Sea Rd. • Southampton NY 11968 • phone 631-283-9830 Tate’s Bake Shop Online Store • phone 631-780-6511 • fax 631-780-6443