As I mentioned before, I met Barb at KPMG in the early nineties; after a year or so, Barb decided to move to Vancouver. JT and I had just bought our home in the upper beach in Toronto and had a vacant basement apartment. We had never had a tenant before so we thought it might be nice to see if we liked it — so, to help Barb save money for her trip, we offered the apartment as a short term rental at a very low rent rate. Barb loved the idea and we became room-mates of sorts for a few months. During Barb’s last Christmas party at KPMG, one of the much loved partners (Evelyn) discovered that Barb lived in our basement, and she blurted out in her adorable Irish accent: “Bargain Basement Barb!” The entire table howled with laughter and to this day she is known as Bargain Basement Barb (I can hardly wait to mention this story to her children — but I want to do it when they are old enough to remember! No need to thank me Barbie!). In fact, this naming convention carried forward to our two other tenants (another friend and then a relative) there was Lower Level Leanne and Also Atilla (pronounce “ulshow” it means beneath in Hungarian!).
Barb has long since moved back to Toronto and is happily married with two young active girls. I am not sure if this recipe came about while Barb was living in our basement (there were many cookies left at the top of the stairs while she lived with us), but she did include them in our welcome package in our hotel room at her wedding in Niagara-on-the-Lake. They have remained a favourite throughout the years. There is no argument that the chunks of chocolate are an extravagent addition but I am often out of my slab chocolate (it seems to evaporate, not sure how!!! ;-)) so I substitute chips. Still yummy!
Bargain Basement Barb’s Ultimate Chocolate Chunk (or Chip) Cookies
- 1 cup butter
- 1 cup tightly packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
- 8 oz milk chocolate, chopped into chunks (chocolate chips work too)
- 1 cup of dried, unsweetened cranberries or cherries (option)
- Prehaeat the oven to 350°F.
- Line two heavy baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or by hand), cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
- Beat in the vanilla.
- Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl.
- Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined.
- Fold in the chocolate chunks or chips.
- Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut into balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets (I prefer to use a 1″ dual handle ice cream scooper). Stagger the rows of cookies to ensure even baking.
- Bake 12 to 15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14 to 17 minutes for larger cookies, or until the tops are light golden brown. If the cookies are neither firm nor dark when they are removed from the oven, they will cool chewy and soft. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Can be stored in air-tight container for 1 week or freeze in a zip lock bag and defrost as required!