The internet and the world at large are abuzz about Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce. And while I’m happy for their budding romance, what I can’t get enough of is the real MVP, Donna Kelce, Travis’ mom.
Donna is mother to not one but two Super Bowl champions, and has really set the bar high for fellow boy moms like me. She’s often seen jetting from one son’s game to the next, seemingly unaffected by the space and time continuum. If only I could get from one school drop-off to the next with such ease and grace.
Earlier this year, during the Super Bowl, Donna had a bit of a viral moment when a photo of her giving each of her kids a Tupperware container of homemade cookies made the rounds on social media. No matter how old or successful you get, nothing can beat mom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.
Last week Donna stopped by the Today Show and shared her famous chocolate chip cookies with the hosts Al Roker and Hoda Kotb. Since she was kind enough to share the recipe, I knew I had to give the cookies a try.
4 Things That Make Donna Kelce’s Cookies So Unique
I’ve made a lot of chocolate chip cookies, and at first glance, Donna’s recipe looked familiar, like the original Nestlé Toll House cookie recipe we all know and love. However, there are four things that stick out to me about her recipe that make it unique and worthy of trying.
1. Two Types of Chocolate: Donna calls for two specific types of chocolate: Ghirardelli milk and white chocolate chips. If you call for a specific brand of chocolate, you mean business. To me, it shows the recipe has been made hundreds of times and perfected over the years. Only a true cookie perfectionist calls for not one, but two chocolates by name.
That said, I was a little skeptical of the white chocolate—I’m not a huge fan because I usually find it overly sweet and tasteless. But these Ghirardelli white chocolate chips are delicious. Paired with the toasted pecans, the white chocolate gives the cookies a nutty toffee-like flavor I love. And while I’d generally opt to skip nuts in cookies (blame my kids), I’m glad I added the optional pecans; they really add dimension and balance out the sweetness.
2. Ground Cinnamon: The next ingredient that surprised me was cinnamon. When baking pies, quick breads, and muffins, and making pancakes, I always add a little ground cinnamon even if the recipe doesn’t call for it. I’ve never thought to add it to chocolate chip cookies. The cinnamon gives them a lovely warm flavor, sort of like oatmeal raisin cookies, but better.
3. Two Types of Flour: All-purpose is usually standard for cookie baking. Donna’s recipe calls for some all-purpose and some cake flour. The cake flour is lower in protein than all-purpose flour, so these cookies have a slightly lighter texture than your standard chocolate chipper.
I recommend stocking your pantry with good cake flour (I prefer the King Arthur brand), but if you don’t have any on hand you can always make some by measuring out one cup of all-purpose flour, removing one tablespoon of it, and replacing it with one tablespoon of cornstarch.
4. Activate the Baking Soda: While baking soda is standard in most cookie recipes, Donna calls for activating the baking soda in hot water before adding it to the dough. I’ve used this method for baking cakes, but I’ve never seen it used in a cookie recipe.
I scoured Google to figure out why this extra step was taken and found two plausible reasons.
First, dissolving the baking soda allows it to be evenly distributed in the batter with no clumps. Second, by activating the baking soda with warm water, the dough won’t rise as much once it hits the oven, resulting in a flatter, chewier cookie. No matter the reason, I can confirm that the texture of these cookies is absolutely perfect. They are soft in the middle with caramelized edges making them irresistible.
Would I Make Them Again?
This recipe will become a go-to in my house. It makes a ton of cookies, so I’ve already stashed half of the dough that I scooped into balls in my freezer to bake off on a rainy day. While I may not be hanging out with Taylor anytime soon, at least we can enjoy the same cookies!
My last word of advice: Don’t skip the chill time. Cookie dough that has been given ample time to chill in the fridge will taste and feel better since the dough has the opportunity to relax and fully hydrate before baking.