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1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until mixture is combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Stir in chocolate pieces and, if desired, nuts.
2. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. (If you prefer to use a scoop, use a small scoop about 1 1/4 inches in diameter for regular-size cookies. Or for large cookies, use a 1/4-cup measure or scoop to drop mounds of dough 4 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. If desired, flatten dough mounds to circles about 3/4 inch thick.)
3. Bake about 9 minutes or just until edges are light brown. (To ensure the cookies do not overbake, remove them from the oven when the edges are light brown; the centers may seem a little underbaked at this point, but will set up while the cookies stand on the cookie sheet.) Let stand on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer to a wire rack; cool completely.