Audrey’s famous chocolate chip cookies need no introduction, but I’m going to give them one deserving of their reputation. They are Audrey’s most popular creation and certainly the most delicious. The Clarke family estimates* that she has baked over 100,000 of these cookies in her lifetime!
*Want to see the math? Scroll to the bottom of the post!
The recipe came from a family friend named Beth Smith, wife of Stouffville’s Dr. Don Smith. Audrey’s daughter Susan and Beth’s daughter Paddie were born in the same year and became childhood friends. Audrey must have a truly special talent for baking because in 2004 at their high school reunion, Paddie recalled to Susan that Audrey’s chocolate chip cookies were the best in town!
Outside of Audrey’s circle of family and friends, these cookies (and Audrey’s recipe box in general) are continuing to grow in reputation. I entered them in my company bake-off last year and took home the prize for Best Cookie! It was a delight to bake a simple, classic cookie from Grandma Clarke’s repertoire and come away with a win.
Rumour has it that these cookies are even responsible for keeping a romance alive! In 1984, a handsome young pilot from Tennessee caught the eye of Susan Clarke. It was a tradition at FedEx for jumpseaters (pilots flying along in a spare seat) to bring treats for the flight crew. Rog Sphar is speculated to have been given special priority for flights to Ontario… if a batch of Audrey’s chocolate chip cookies were coming along!
Rog and Susan were married 4 years later in 1988. They have two children, Nate and Rebecca, who are both big fans of Grandma Clarke’s chocolate chip cookies.
To all of my cousins and aunts and uncles and in-laws and out-laws: I am so excited to share this recipe with you! It is a hugely important part of our family history and I want us all to keep Grandma’s baking tradition alive, one cookie at a time…
Or roughly 18 cookies at a time! The recipe doesn’t say how many or how large to make these cookies, but trust me: if you make only a dozen, you will have 12 very large cookies. In my experience, classic Grandma-sized cookies (dolloped on the sheet with a heaping tablespoon) can be achieved in batches of 16-20.
As always, remember to check your cookies early (around the 8 minute mark) if you’ve got an oven that runs hot like mine. The cookies are done when they are just starting to appear slightly golden. They may look underdone and overinflated, but they’ll settle as they cool.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- ½ cup shortening [or butter]
- 1 tsp vanilla
- ½ cup white sugar
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ cups of flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 cup chocolate chipits
Cream or mix together shortening, vanilla, and sugars
Add egg (well beaten)
Add sifted dry ingredients & mix in
Stir in chocolate chipits
Drop on greased cookie sheet
Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes
Porcelain sleeping cat plate from EarlyBirdDesignsShop on Etsy.
Let’s Do The Math
The Clarke family believes that Audrey has baked over 100,000 of these chocolate chip cookies in her lifetime. Let’s crunch some numbers.
An original estimate of “75,000 served” was made in 1984 by my dad, Larry Gibbs. He based his estimate on Audrey’s frequency of baking with respect to the number of years she has had the recipe. Although we’ve lost the original numbers, if we assume that she acquired the recipe around 1949 (age 20), that gives us 120 batches per year (at 18 cookies per batch).
75000 / (1984 - 1949) = 2142.86
2142.86 / 18 = 119.04
Sound crazy? Then you haven’t seen Audrey bake! Even well into her 60s, Grandma Clarke was baking at least a dozen of something every day! Add several bonus dozens around each holiday, church event, or community bake sale and we can comfortably say that Audrey baked 400-500 dozens of cookies (or individual pies, cakes, etc) per year.
If we extrapolate from our previous estimate to include an additional 15 years from 1985-2000, then we can confidently estimate that Audrey has baked over 100,000 of her famous chocolate chip cookies.
2142.86 * (2000 - 1985) = 32142.9
75000 + 32142.9 = 107142.9
And there you have it, folks. Over 100,000 chocolate chip cookies served!