[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] Chocolate chip cookies. Once they were a reason to stay home. Now every shopping center has a cookie stand, wafting chocolate and butter smells through the shoe stores and jeans shops. They are hawked on street corners, touted in mail-order catalogues. They have become big business, or at least everybody's business. Chocolate chip cookie contests are taking the bite out of chili-cooking contests. As cookie dough blankets the land, every maker boasts of small distinctions. David's, in Manhattan, uses Godiva chocolate. The Y, in Washington, boasts about keeping its recipe a secret, so the game becomes to duplicate the recipe whether or not you actually like the cookie. Famous Amos has been copied by just plain Famous, so now Amos has moved into the upper crust with macadamia nuts. Everyone has a gimmick, and every gimmick just proves again that you can't beat the original Toll House Cookie recipe.

With one exception.

Years ago -- years enough to have yellowed the magazine clipping -- the Nestle' company printed a recipe for Toll House Cupcakes. They have all the advantages of Toll House Cookies: those melting islands of chocolate, the crisp buttery edges, the rich sweetness of brown sugar and oily crunch of walnuts. The cupcakes are made in two parts, a cake base and a whipped egg-sugar-chocolate-nut topping. The topping burrows into the cake to form a crunchy tunnel with just a thin rim of buttery cake. These cupcakes are (like the cookies) best eaten warm, with the chocolate still melted, and while there are still some left.

It would be unpatriotic to suggest that we could become bored with chocolate chip cookies. Without first trying chocolate chip cupcakes.

CHOCOLATE CHIP CUPCAKES (Makes 16) Cake base:

1/2 cup soft butter

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 egg

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt Topping:

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 egg

Pinch of salt

1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Cream together butter, granulated and brown sugars and vanilla. Beat in 1 egg. Sift together and stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Spoon by rounded tablespoonfuls into paper-lined cupcake cups. Bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from oven.

While cupcakes are baking, prepare topping. Beat until very thick brown sugar, egg and salt. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts and vanilla. As soon as cupcakes are removed from oven, spoon 1 tablespoonful of topping over each and immediately return to oven. Bake at 375 degrees 15 minutes more.