Beth Christianson-Melby’s award-winning chocolate chip cookies

Sometimes the trick to finding that perfect recipe is patience and a whole lot of trial and error.

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Take my chicken-fried steak and gravy, recipe, which was the byproduct of about three years’ worth of very deliberate recipe development. The hubby and I would order the dish in restaurants, critique what we liked and disliked, try the recipe at home with changes, rinse and repeat.

We didn’t own a newspaper yet. We had a lot of time on our hands.

But the result of our efforts is the best chicken-fried steak and gravy either of us has ever tasted; all others pale in comparison.

And that’s just one of many examples. World’s best beef stew took four years to hone to perfect – about the same as our favorite apple pie recipe. (They’re usually made in conjunction.)

And my lasagna? Roughly 6.5 years of work. (Yes, “work” means “eating lasagna.”)

Of course, I say these are the best recipes in the world but typically the hubby and I are the only judges of such things. We’re 100 percent correct, but still unofficial.

Recently Beth Melby-Christianson, owner of The Idea Shop in Hillsboro, made her designation official when she took top honors for these cookies at the 2021 Minnesota State Fair.

That’s pretty big-time; Beth’s recipe topped 128 other entries for best chocolate chip cookie sans fruit or nuts. (And let’s be honest; the best chocolate chip cookies don’t have fruit or nuts.)

Beth has been perfecting her recipe for more than 20 years and said that “Over the years, I’ve learned that baking time is the secret to a good cookie.” I couldn’t agree more; I tend to err on the side of underbaking my cookies and then let them sit on the hot pan outside the oven for a few minutes to set up without overbrowning.

And that dark brown sugar is a great addition, as well, giving the cookies almost a toffee-flavored undertone when they’re baked.

But don’t take my word for it; take the word of the judges who tasted 128 different chocolate chip cookies and declared these the best.

Note: I used 2 large eggs instead of the egg replacer mix.

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