I am convinced that the world would be a better place if everyone had neighbors like the Knaphus family. Theirs is the kind of home where the whole neighborhood is routinely invited over for scone parties on Sunday afternoons, donuts are fried up in the driveway every Halloween, and on any given day the living room couches are filled with various neighbors and friends dropping by to visit. Last summer the K-naps got a snow cone machine, and ever since you will find their front lawn teeming with kids and families on hot summer nights. A small block party that the Knaphuses threw a few years ago in their driveway has evolved into Hollystock, an annual event that requires the closure of a whole street due to the high turnout. It truly is the stuff of simpler times.
I was lucky enough to grow up across the street from the Knaphuses. My siblings and I are good friends with their boys and our family still congregates at their home frequently. No matter how large or small the occasion, be it Christmas Eve or a Utah football game, one element of these gatherings is constant: the food is amazing. Besides being some of the nicest people you will ever meet, Chris and Leslie are both fantastic cooks. I drool at the memory of Chris’ marinated tri-tip steak and look forward to the Superbowl every year not because of the game but because it means I will get to have some of Leslie’s delicious Superbowl bread (it’s essentially a giant cinnamon roll in the shape of a football but somehow tastes so much better than a normal cinnamon roll).
One trademark of Knaphus cooking is Leslie’s chocolate chip cookies. They are found at virtually every Knaphus function and are known by most people as “Leslie cookies.” I have yet to meet a person that does not love them. When I got married Leslie threw me a bridal shower and gave me her tricks of the trade: baking sheets, parchment paper liners, a cookie scoop, and the recipe for these cookies. I had to laugh when I noticed that her recipe yielded about eight dozen of these suckers. I guess you don’t become my favorite family in the neighborhood by running out of cookies.
I’ve been trying to figure out what makes Leslie’s cookies so good and it comes down to this: In my opinion, chocolate chip cookies fall into two camps. There are the rich, buttery ones loaded with semisweet chocolate that are amazing when warm but taste a little too heavy once they’ve cooled down, and then there are what I call “cookie jar” cookies- the ones that taste a little less intense at first and therefore age much better. Leslie cookies are pretty much the ideal form of this type of cookie. I’m thinking what makes that the case is the use of milk chocolate chips and the addition of instant oats to the equation. For those of you thinking “she didn’t mention that this was an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe”, let me state that I ate these for years without ever suspecting they contained anything of the sort. I’m guessing most connoisseurs of Leslie cookies would say the same. Because the oats in this recipe are instant and not the heartier rolled oats, they impart a subtle grainy flavor to balance out all the butter and sugar without changing the texture of the cookie. But don’t just take my word for it, go ahead and make a batch. And, if you feel like taking a page out of Leslie’s book, go share them with your neighbors.
Leslie’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Don’t worry, I halved the original recipe so you won’t end up with a ton of cookies. This yields about 3-4 dozen. Also, the recipe Leslie gave me called for rolled oats but she told me that she always uses instant so I’ve made that change in my copy.
2 sticks softened butter (1 cup)
1 cup brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Scant 3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 cup instant oats
1 (12 oz.) bag milk chocolate chips ( I like Guittard brand)
1) Cream butter and sugar
2) Add eggs and vanilla and mix until incorporated
3) Add flour, soda, salt, and oats
4) Stir in chocolate chips
5) Drop by rounded tablespoons (or use a cookie scoop- mine is about 1 ½ tablespoons) onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
6) Bake at 350 for about ten minutes, or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned.