My mom is here visiting and brought cookie dough scoops for the Georgia & Millie. I've been making cookies on my own since I was tiny. My Sunbeam teacher at church thought it would be funny to have a class make a cookbook to give to parents for Christmas. So she asked all the kids to contribute recipes, transcribed what they wrote and let the hilarity ensue. There were lots of "Take 10 gallons of flour..." or "use forty-eleventy bags of rice and..." Mine was an absolutely accurate recipe for peanut butter cookies. The only part that stumped me was cooking temp & time. So I said, quite cleverly, "Put them in the oven until the buzzer rings."
My point is not that I am a virtuoso cook (those who know me are "amening" right now), but that a)my mom gave me free baking reign as a kid and b) as a result my cookies kick butt. So it sort of disturbs me that none of my older 3 have ever made cookies on their own. They help me, but I never let them take over. So armed with my mom as Bea patrol, I gave each girl their own bowl and measuring cups and let them thru the Tollhouse Cookie recipe, letting them do it all. They did a great job.
Things (literally) got sticky when Bea appeared from a nap and demanded to "make cookies!" [Sidebar: Bea is in a playgroup and when it's my turn, the only real activity we do it is I make cookies and let them taste and feel every ingredient (excpet the eggs) so Bea thinks she's Betty Crocker.] I put her in her chair and gave her a bowl and flour and sugar, thinking she'd be happy. Well, when the big girls started cracking the eggs she was outraged and demanded one of her own. My mom looked at me like, "Surely you aren't going to give an egg to a toddler! Think of the Salmonella! Think of the mess!" So of course the rebellious kid in me hands Bea an egg. She was scared to crack it, but once it was open she had so much fun mixing it with the dry ingredients.
Butter is yummy, but tricky. A safe bet is butter flavor Crisco. Foodies, as long as they don't know you've used it, oh and aw over Crisco's resulting taste and appearance (no flat melty ones from too soft of butter nor do you have to smash them down when they get too cakey). Do half and half if you can't live without.
Mexican vanilla is bueno bueno bueno.
Hand mix. You heard me. No electric mixers or food processors. Use your hand and a spoon. Overmixing is the biggest problem. It leads to tough cookies.
Ghiradelli extra dark chips are my favorite. The dough is so sweet, it provides a good blend.
Freeze any cookies you don't eat in the first day. Less than fresh cookies are not worth the calories.
Don't overcook. Put them in the oven until the buzzer rings.