There really isn’t a lot I’d like to bring back from my high school years.
I’m quite content to leave my “Tease it to Jesus” 80s hair and mouthful of braces as nothing more than a fond memory.
But the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies from the school cafeteria are another story.
Warm, gooey, “make-your-gums-tingle-from-all-the-sugar” cookies were the best thing my high school cafe served. And I have been chasing those cookies for 20 years.
The trick to fully enjoying those cookies was getting them fresh from the oven. (I’m still convinced that they only half-baked them and we risked getting salmonella from half raw eggs and flour with every bite, but we were young and immortal back then so it didn’t matter.)
I think my version looks different – they are bigger and prettier than the high school cafeteria ones, but the taste is as close as any recipe I’ve tried since.
And believe me when I say I’ve tried A LOT of recipes trying to recreate it.
Best of all, this version is 100% dairy and egg-free.
I highly recommend eating them warm from the oven for the ultimate “16-year-old-angsty-teenager-experience.”
Not that they aren’t absolutely delicious when cooled, but if you didn’t burn the roof of your mouth trying to finish your cookie before you got to first period English class, you’re just not doing it right.
Ultimate High School Cafeteria Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nut-free, Soy-free, Oil-free
Prep time: 10 minutes Bake time: 13 minutes Inactive time: 2 hours Yields: 12-14 cookies
1 stick (1/2 cup) plant-based butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup dairy-free semi-sweet chocolate chips, plus extra for garnish
- In a large bowl, combine the butter and both sugars. Using an electric hand mixer on high, cream them together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in the vanilla and applesauce and mix for 1 minute to combine, then add the baking soda, powder and salt and mix for 1 minute until combined.
- Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, ½ a cup at a time, mixing until incorporated before adding the next batch. Stop when all the flour has been just incorporated and there are no white flour streaks left in the dough. Gently fold in 1 cup of chocolate chips by hand. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 ½ – 2 hours.
- Once dough is properly chilled, preheat the oven to 350F and line two standard baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets. Using a 2” diameter ice cream scoop, drop scoopfuls of the chilled dough onto the prepared sheets, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. You should get 6-7 cookies per sheet.
- If desired, press additional chocolate chips onto the tops of each cookie to give them that bakery-style look. Bake for 12-13 minutes or until the tops just start to get golden but aren’t brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely – if you can wait that long!
Storage instructions: store baked cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 4 months.
Make ahead option: Prep the cookies as above, but instead of baking, pop the baking sheets in the freezer for 2 hours to freeze the cookie dough. Once solid, transfer to a freezer-safe bag or container until needed. To bake, place the frozen cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 350F for 12-13 minutes, as above.