Jennie Gwilym freezes her cookie dough for at least two days before baking. Photo courtesy of Jennie Gwilym

If you were to ask my friends and families what I am best known for, they would probably say chocolate chip cookies. It also just happens to be my husband’s favorite Christmas cookie. After all, who doesn’t love a warm chocolate chip cookie fresh from the oven? Through the years, my cookies have evolved.

It all started when my high school sweetheart went off to college a year ahead of me. My promise to him was to send freshly baked cookies every week. I would painstakingly pack them in aluminum foil to hold in the heat. I always imagined them arriving at his dorm two days later still a touch warm.

Gwilym’s chocolate chip cookies have crispy edges and gooey centers. Photo courtesy of Jennie Gwilym

My recipe then and still now is the Toll House recipe. Fast forward to the 1990s. While working at L.L. Bean, I liked to get lunch at the Old World Deli by the Big Indian on Route 1. And my favorite thing there was their chocolate chip cookies. Their cookies had this crispy edge with ooey gooey centers. It perplexed me how they were able to make these two things happen simultaneously. Twelve years later, I found out. I took a job at the deli and was able to see firsthand how to achieve these magical cookies.

The first change I made was to convert the Toll House recipe dry ingredient to weights. I immediately went out and bought a scale and have been weighing dry ingredients ever since. The next thing I learned was to chill the dough before baking. I use an ice cream scoop to create identical balls, put them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze them for a minimum of two days. No instant gratification with my approach.

The final change is in the baking. I bake the frozen cookie balls on half sheet pans lined with parchment at 375 degrees for 16 minutes, turning the pan at 8 minutes. The cookies should look crispy brown on the edge and a bit undercooked in the middle. I leave the cookies on the hot pan to finish baking rather than transferring them to a cooling rack. One of the benefits to this approach is there are always frozen cookie balls waiting in the freezer to be baked when the urge arises.

During COVID, while we were all sheltering in place, I posted this on Facebook:


“For the next 30 days while we are sheltering in place, I need your help #spreadingthelove.

“I plan to bake 40 chocolate chip cookies every day and will deliver them to anyone you request. A small way to thank those essential workers who selflessly give day in and day out.”

Gwilym delivered her chocolate cookies to essential workers during the COVID shutdown and documented the deliveries with photos she posted on social media, seen in this collage. Photo courtesy of Jennie Gwilym

After receiving nominees, I baked four dozen cookies and delivered them each day to essential workers. After COVID, I expanded my deliveries throughout the U.S. and mailed cookies monthly from nominees I received. I have also taken my cookies to the streets of Portland during the holidays to brighten the lives of our homeless and sheltered friends, and have donated my cookies to auctions to help raise money for nonprofits around Portland.

Hopefully this recipe will help spread a little love into your life.


Recipe from Nestle Toll House with the exception of a bit more vanilla extract. Special equipment required: scale and trigger-release ice cream scoop. Plan ahead: The raw cookies need 2 days in the freezer before you can bake them.


Makes about 20 cookies

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature

6 ounces light brown sugar

6 ounces granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract


12 ounces flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

In a mixer, blend the softened butter with the sugars until creamy.

Add the eggs and vanilla extract and blend for 10 seconds.


Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda, then slowly add these combined dry ingredients to the mixer.

Once the batter is well combined, stir in the chocolate chips.

Scoop cookie dough using a 4-ounce trigger-release ice-cream scoop and place on cookie sheet. Place cookie sheet in freezer for 2 days.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Arrange the cookies evenly on baking sheets, 12 cookies per sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes and then reverse cookie sheets for even baking and bake another 8 minutes.

You may need additional time depending on your oven. The cookies are done when they are golden around the edges but still look a bit undercooked in the middle.


Leave the cookies on the tray to cool where they will continue to cook.

Jennie Gwilym Photo by Laura Hadlock

THE COOK: Jennie Gwilym, Portland

“I have been a lover of food all my life. It was a passion my parents and grandparents passed onto me. My parents exposed my sisters and me to many different types of food from any early age. I have a vivid memory of trying escargot at the age of 7 on a visit to Washington, D.C., at my dad’s suggestion.

“My husband and I downsized and moved from Freeport to Portland after our kids graduated from college in 2018, so that we could be immersed in the Portland food scene. Prior to that, I had a 15-year career at L.L. Bean and then later started my own catering business, which I closed when we downsized. I have had no formal food training.

“I now strictly cook for charity. (You can read about my current projects at

“My husband and I enjoy many types of food from different nationalities. I rarely make the same recipe twice. I find most of the recipes on the internet; however, I have been known to talk a Portland chef or two out of sharing a favorite recipe with me as well. We dine out at least once a week and feel blessed to have so many amazing choices close to us.

“I try to avoid all processed foods and instead prefer to buy single-ingredient foods. I love riding around town on my e-bike, picking up various ingredients along the way. We even grow some of our own food in the community garden on the Eastern Prom. My husband has also taken up cooking in his retirement and makes his own granola, whole wheat bread and yogurt.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: