A cookie recipe should be a good base.  This means, any cookie dough should be able to handle a huge degree of variations without affecting the texture and stability of the cookie.  There are three cookies that I used over and over again – yes, two of them come from the Barefoot Contessa. 

Barefoot Contessa Shortbread Recipe

This was designed to be used in many different variations.  My one tip is to add about one or two tablespoons of water to help the shortbread come together because it is VERY crumbly.  My primary use is to make shortbread sandwiches.  Simply use a glass to cut circles of shortbread.  Bake and then when cool, put two circles together with a filling in-between.  The fillings I use are – jams of any kind, chocolate ganache, vanilla mascarpone, peanut butter, or nutella.  

Barefoot Contessa Chocolate cookies

While the recipe calls for nuts and white chocolate.  This is a perfect vehicle for anything that goes with chocolate.  Omit the white chocolate and add chocolate chips.  Add different kinds of nuts (hazelnuts!).  Roll them in powdered sugar before making for a crinkly crust.  Add raisins to make a cookie raisinet!

Toll House Cookies – Let me impress you by writing this from memory

1/2 cup (2 sticks) of butter
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups of flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix everything together.  Bake at 350 degrees (different from the 375 degrees the recipe calls for) for 10-12 minutes. 

Variations include adding different kinds of nuts, different kinds of finely chopped dried fruits – I love cranberries, chopped candy bars, small candy like M&M’s (I don’t recommend SweetTarts) or even adding a cup of oatmeal.  The recipe is THAT forgiving. 

As with any cookie, switch the cookie sheets halfway (the cookie sheet on the bottom rack should go to the top rack and vice versa). BTW for any cookie that requires you form it with two spoons, a cookie scoop is a great investment.  I just bought mine and it saved me a lot of time. 

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