Chocolate Chip Day: A sweet excuse to have dessert!

Chocolate Chip Day: A sweet excuse to have dessert!

Updated: May 12, 2011 03:05 PM EDT
© iStockphoto / Thinkstock © iStockphoto / Thinkstock

By Elisa D. Keller
Provided by WorldNow

For chocolate lovers and cookie fans everywhere, May 15 is a day to celebrate – it's National Chocolate Chip Day!

A truly American creation, chocolate chips were developed in 1939, following the surprising popularity of an accidental recipe by innkeeper Ruth Wakefield, co-owner of the Toll House in Massachusetts. 

According to the folks at Nestle Toll House, in 1930, Ruth was making a batch of Butter Drop Do cookies, a favorite recipe of the weary travelers who would stop at her house for a home-cooked meal, when she decided to add a bar of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate, cut up into small pieces.

Ruth believed the chocolate would melt into the cookies, so the story goes, but instead the pieces merely softened, creating a chewy, creamy texture now beloved by millions of kids and adults alike.

Chocolate chip cookies became a favorite at the Toll House, and word of mouth began to spread. Soon, Nestle made a deal with Ruth Wakefield, trading her a lifetime supply of chocolate for the rights to her cookie, and began printing the recipe on its chocolate bar wrappers. Only a handful of years later, their "Nestle Toll House semi-sweet morsels" were released – the official birth of the bite-sized chocolate chip.

Today, chocolate chips come in an increasing number of shapes, sizes and flavors, from white to decadent dark. And while most people still associate the wee chocolate drops with Ruth's original cookie recipe, the applications are endless.

To celebrate Chocolate Chip Day, here are some delicious uses for chocolate chips:

1.  If cookies aren't your thing, try mixing chocolate chips into other baked goods. They're amazing in muffins and pancakes, and can make your favorite brownie recipe even more decadent.

2.  For a delicious and increasingly popular take on the classic Italian cannoli, mix some chocolate chips in with the creamy ricotta filling before it's piped into the crispy pastry shells.

3.  Chocolate meshes extremely well with fruit flavors like orange and raspberry, so try mixing a handful of mini chips into a summer fruit salad for a figure-friendly dessert.

4.  For a sweet surprise in your granola or trail mix, mix your favorite flavor chips in with nuts, rolled oats and dried fruit.

5.  Chopping up large blocks of chocolate for baking or candy-making recipes can be messy and time-consuming. Instead, try using high-quality chocolate chips for recipes that require melting chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.  The individual pieces will melt more evenly and be less prone to scorching. (Be sure to read the ingredient list on your packages, however, as some more processed chips may have chemical stabilizers in them, making them less ideal for ganache or other sensitive recipes.)

6.  Chocolate chips are great cake decorating tools for those of us with a less than steady hand (or a child who wants to help). Skip the messy gel-based cake icing tubes you can get at the supermarket – just lay out the chips in rows to spell somebody's name, or make a pretty pattern on top of your baked goods.

7.  Chocolate is not just for dessert!  Savory dishes like a Mexican mole sauce are based on the awesome richness of chocolate, so feel free to incorporate some crushed chocolate chips into spice rubs for meat like chicken, pork or beef, or throw a tablespoon of dark chocolate chips into your next pot of chili. It will add depth of flavor and have people clamoring for your secret recipe.

Elisa D. Keller is the Food editor for WorldNow.

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