I follow several cooking blogs and I like to read cookbooks for fun, and occasionally I'll come across a recipe that claims to be THE BEST chocolate chip cookies. Well, although I always like my own version the best, I am always willing to try the others. And while every chocolate chip cookie recipe I have tried is certainly GOOD, I still always come back to my own recipe as my favorite. Differences in oven, baking sheets, method, quality of ingredients, etc. affect the outcome of anything you bake; I'll give you my recipe here and a few tips for how I like to make them. I won't claim that they're "the best" since that is obviously subjective, but they're MY favorite :)
1 c shortening
1/2 butter (one stick), slightly softened
1 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 T vanilla
5 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
chocolate chips... about 2 cups or 12 oz
This is a double-batch; it makes about 5 dozen cookies for the size I make them. I use a stand mixer, which isn't absolutely necessary but does make it easier!
Cream together shortening and butter. Add both sugars, and mix for a while until well-combined and light and fluffy. Add the eggs, keep mixing for while until light and fluffy. Beating the heck out of these first few ingredients makes for a better chocolate chip cookie! Then add the vanilla.
Lots of recipes will tell you to mix the salt & baking soda with the flour separately. I don't think this is necessary. If there's any chance that your dry ingredients have lumps in them, sift them first. But almost always I just put my first cup of flour into the mixer, put the salt & baking soda on top of that, and mix it well. Then add the rest of the flour. Mix until just combined (no need to mix it to death) and then add the chocolate chips.
I like to refrigerate the dough for a while before baking; I think they turn out better that way but if you need to bake some right away that's okay too. I prefer nice aluminum half-sheet pans with a Silpat mat when baking cookies. They bake nice and evenly, not too done on the bottom; plus you have the non-stick benefit of the Silpat. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.