Day 286 – National Chocolate Chip Day

No argument from me that chocolate chips deserve a day of recognition. In fact, throughout my quest, I have entered into a new phase of my relationship with chocolate chips. That sounds a bit strange, but what has really happened is that my yearly chocolate chip purchases have skyrocketed over the last 286 days. I have used chocolate chips before. I use them to make fudge and to make my famous peanut butter balls. But this year has added in a slew of new treats to my repertoire like cookies and cakes and brownies and that has really upped my chip habit. I think that’s a good thing.

The patron saint of chocolate chips for baking is Ruth Graves Wakefield who is the creator of the famous Tollhouse Cookie. She created the cookies in 1937 and sold them at her Tollhouse Inn in Whitman, MA. To make them, she added cut-up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestlé chocolate bar to her cookie recipe. After her cookies became the talk of the town, Wakefield brokered an agreement with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar’s packaging in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Pretty sweet wheeling and dealing by old Ruthie there. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with the chocolate bars but in 1941, someone realized it would just be easier to sell the chocolate in chip or ‘morsel’ form and Nestlé started selling chips that way. The rest is history. Ruth’s recipe is still on every bag of the chocolate morsels today and it’s probably the most famous chocolate chip cookie recipe in the world. It was the same cookie recipe my grandmother made and that I have even made along this quest.  (Info from Wikipedia)

I could have made chocolate chip cookies today, but I kind of felt like I’ve been down that road before. Plus, I was a little short on time today, so I decided to just celebrate the chocolate chip for all it brings to the party. My first stop on my hunt for the chocolate chip in the wild was actually at McDonald’s. I’m not proud, but it was a way for me to get that chocolate chip fix and to show how readily available these products are. It’s even at McDonald’s! I bought myself a double chocolate muffin there on my lunch break. While I have heard good things about the coffee at MCDonald’s and the effort they have made at making their McCafe a thing, I have not really tried it. I was actually surprised at how tasty the muffin was. It was full of rich, chocolaty taste, nice and moist, with bits of chocolate chips very subtly mixed into the batter giving you that tiny flavor burst of chocolate chip while you are munching away. It’s actually very good and would hold up against the muffins you get at other quick service places like Cumberland Farms or even Dunkin Donuts.

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My chocolate chip adventure continued at the end of my work day when I made an unplanned stop. I had to go to Walmart after work so I headed south on Route 138 rather than my usual north route. This made me drive by Frosty Freez which is the local place for ice cream. It’s your typical ice cream stand with a walk up window that you order through. The windows slide open and close as the workers inside zip around cranking out all the different ice cream concoctions people order. Sundaes, cones, frappes, cabinets, malts – they make it all. It’s in an odd location, right in the middle of a busy route that’s at the crossroads to all things Aquidneck Island, but it’s not near anything particular. But it’s a local favorite and usually there is a line around the building of families and sugar seekers looking for their ice cream fix. Today was not particularly warm or sunny and as I came upon it, I noticed there was no line at all. So I made a quick turn into the lot and walked up to the window and ordered a kiddie size chocolate chip ice cream cone.

Chocolate chip ice cream was always my jam as a kid. My very favorite. I was always a big fan of vanilla ice cream and whoever thought to toss in some chocolate chips was brilliant. That’s what I would order whenever we went out for ice cream. My brother was more of a soft ice cream with hard chocolate topping kind of guy and my sister was more of a straight up chocolate person. I was the CC man. I never really order that kind of ice cream any more but it’s still one of my favorites. The one at Frosty Freez was particularly good too and chockablock full of chocolate chips. It came on a wafer cone and usually I go for the sugar cone, but the wafer cone is a pretty great flavor too. It’s sturdier than the other kind of cone, so easier to eat, but when you get to the bottom and you have more cone than ice cream, the flavor of the cone is really delicious, like a delicate cookie. I was a fan and I think I may mix up my cone selection this summer.

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When I got home, Lola and I had some dinner. We were both kind of tired so we went with breakfast burritos which are always a fun little break from the norm of dinner. Breakfast for dinner on a tired Monday is a great treat. Afterwards, when we were ready for something sweet, I served our final course of chocolate chips. I am not sure if Lola was really craving something sweet or if she was just happily following along with my questing, but she is always a trooper. I also don’t think I necessarily needed another serving of something sweet today, but these are the sacrifices I must make. I had thoughts about baking something easy to get that final chocolate chip fix and to show off their versatility, but I was too tired for that and I think this whole day’s quest has been a presentation of many uses of chocolate chips. I opted for just a simple treat that Lola has been known to enjoy on rare occasion: a scoop of peanut butter topped in chocolate chips.

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I have mentioned this creation before as something Lola has when she is having a particularly rough day. She’ll be tired, mentally exhausted and hungry and to make her happy, she will sit down with this treat which we identify as a Class IV (indicating the state of Lola’s hunger/mood). However, the fact is that it’s just a good treat and really shows off the simple pleasure of the chocolate chip. The sweetness of the peanut butter balances out the semisweet bitterness of the chip so the flavor is perfect and it is like having a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup on a spoon. The chips also bring a crunchy texture to the smoothness of the peanut butter. I think Lola is a genius for coming up with this snack, although I kind of recall my cousin John sometimes taking a big spoon of peanut butter and topping it with chocolate chips for a quick treat. John was always an innovator. It’s the same concept as Lola’s treat although Lola’s preparation allows you to savor it (which is so Lola). I actually have never really had this treat outside of a taste of Lola’s so it felt fun to have my own little serving.

A pretty sweet day which is the only way to celebrate the diversity of the chocolate chip. When I saw that this day was coming I had a vision of making dozens of all kinds of treats and goodies that really show the diversity of the chocolate chip and how much they are one of the biggest stars of the bakery aisle. But that was a little too aggressive (even on my best day). What I realized was that the chocolate chip speaks for itself. It makes whatever it is added to just a little better whether that is a muffin, ice cream or even peanut butter. It’s a tribute to its quality, convenience and flavor. Today I give thanks to St. Ruth for leading chocolate chips into the cupboards and pantries of so many home cooks. That bright yellow bag with the red stripe is a sign of something good to come, and I am grateful for all the joy that has come into my life with every morsel.

Next Up: National Sea Monkey Day 

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