Here is her recipe:
In recent years, shortening has come under fire because of its trans-fats. While shortening manufacturers have modified it so it contains less trans-fat, it's hydrogenated, so it will always have some trans-fat. Also, it doesn't add anything to the flavor.Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies1½ C white sugar1½ C brown sugar1½ C shortening4 eggs2 tsp. vanilla4½ C all-purpose flour½ tsp. salt2 tsp. baking soda12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chipsCream together sugar, brown sugar, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. Sift (or just stir) together flour, salt, and baking soda; and then add to creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake.
Lots of people bake their chocolate chip cookies with butter, so I tried that. Many times. It makes good-tasting cookie dough! But the cookies themselves are quite altered: flat, more chewy or even crispy, and a markedly stronger flavor. These weren't necessarily bad characteristics. In fact, some people prefer them. They just aren't my mom's cookies.
Today I decided to try using coconut oil. The ambient temperature has to be quite warm before it changes from solid to liquid. We were just verging on that today in my house, so it was still solid but not hard. I just substituted (still solid) coconut oil for the shortening in Mom's recipe.
Like butter, coconut oil is high in saturated fat. In fact, it's even higher than butter. Unlike shortening, however, it does not contain any trans-fats.
My (admittedly small but very experienced) taste-testing crew agreed that this was the best-tasting cookie dough. (Note: Members of my family have been known to make chocolate chip cookie dough and not turn on the oven, so this is an important factor.)
Although the cookies spread out flat like the ones baked with butter, they remained soft like the ones made with shortening. Flavor? Better than the butter ones; at least as good as the shortening ones.
Next time I will add a bit more flour to see if that will prevent the cookies from flattening out.
Regardless, these are keepers!
Update 7/7/13: When I made these cookies today, I used 1/2 C more flour. I also chilled the dough for an hour before baking. In fact, it's such a warm day today that I chilled the coconut oil before I mixed the dough. The cookies turned out a little plumper. With these changes, I think coconut oil substitutes well for shortening, and tastes better. Here's the adapted recipe:
Mom's Chocolate Chip Cookies (with coconut oil)
1½ C white sugar1½ C brown sugar1½ C coconut oil (refrigerate before using if it is not solid)4 eggs2 tsp. vanilla5 C all-purpose flour½ tsp. salt2 tsp. baking soda12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chipsCream together sugar, brown sugar, and coconut oil. Add eggs and vanilla; mix well. Sift (or just stir) together flour, salt, and baking soda; and then add to creamed mixture. Add chocolate chips. Chill for an hour or more. Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake.