Sunday, January 09, 2011

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am thinking pretty seriously about changing the title of this blog to 'Recipes for a Postmodern Cookie.'  Or, if tonight's epic snow event lives up to the great expectations of our weather forecasters, maybe I shall change it to 'Recipes for a Post-Apocalyptic Cookie.'

Only time will tell, really.  Though I'm kind of leaning towards the former.

It is just that I like cookies, you see.  My grandmother likes cookies.  My children like cookies.  We all like cookies.

And I make a lot of cookies.  I use the old-fashioned Toll House recipe, or I bake Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies or White Chocolate, Strawberry and Oatmeal Cookies.  When ingredients are low, I might bake the Easiest Peanut Butter Cookies In the World.  And when I am trying in vain to take a photo of a cookie, I sometimes bake multiple batches of those lovely Hazelnut Espresso Cookies.

It is as if I had a problem.

This weekend, in preparation of our impending Snow Event of Mythic Proportions, I did what I always do in a time of crisis.  I baked cookies.  First, of course, I made sure we were stocked on firewood and candles and ground up coffee beans and other basic necessities.

Of course.

But for the sake of this conversation, the most important of all of my storm preparations was the baking of these cookies.  I finally, finally and at long last, had gotten my hands on Good to the Grain, a cookbook I have a stalker-like crush on for an absurdly long time.  Orangette wrote about it, as did 101 Cookbooks, The Wednesday Chef, and a handful of others.  And I coveted it.  A whole cookbook on baking with whole grains?  With beautiful photos, raving reviews, and a long list of recipes I couldn't wait to try?

It was painful for me.  My local libraries did not have a copy.  It wasn't going to show up at yard sales anytime soon.  Hints that were dropped around important holidays fell on obtuse ears.  Used copies weren't showing up on Amazon.  I practiced patience.  Patience and long-suffering.  You might think I would have attempted one of the recipes posted by other bloggers, but, in some sort of pique to further my separation from what I was sure would be the greatest cookbook of all time, I held out.  I self-punish well, you see.

I held out for close to forever, and then I figured out how to put holds on books from anywhere within our library system, and after a few more weeks or so, I finally got the notice that The Idolized Cookbook was in.  I may or may not have thrown my pajama-clad kids in the car so we could run to the library right away to pick it up.  Fresh from some vague town in middle Georgia.

And while I had sort of hoped that there would only be one or two recipes that I wanted to try (as is so often the case for me), because then I could just make copies of them and forget about the cookbook altogether, right before I had to return the book to the library, I had no fewer than 20 bookmarks sticking up from the spine like so many crumpled petals on a flower.

I can think of more than one college textbook that had received less page-saving notations than this single book.

The wealth of Kim Boyce's knowledge regarding different grains and their individual quirks and flavors was nothing short of amazing.  I didn't see any way I could survive without having Good to the Grain on my menu desk as a source of ongoing reference.

I gave in to temptation.  I found a used copy and ordered it before returning the library copy.  And I don't think I have ever been so happy to own a single cookbook.

But back to the cookies, yes?  We cannot possibly survive Snowmageddon '11 without a fresh batch of cookies on hand, so I set to work.  After hearing so much about her whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the not-so-small fact that I already had whole-wheat flour on hand, this one was a no-brainer.

It seemed a bit like cheating, though, since I tend to be fairly die-hard about the Toll House recipe when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, and I had already doctored up that particular recipe with the substitution of whole-wheat pastry flour and dark chocolate chips.  So truly, would this one be that different?  And would it be worth the use of whole-wheat flour when it is common knowledge that nothing can kill a perfectly good baked good quite as easily as using 100% whole wheat flour?

It was, of course, that different and that good.  Whole-wheat flour has a lovely taste, kind of a nutty taste really - not nutty in the odd sense, but in the tastes-like-a-nut sense, you understand - and these cookies fairly embody that flavor.  They also, amazingly, make perfect use of the nubby texture, giving the cookies a sort of crackly, to-the-tooth bite that takes everything a good chocolate chip cookie should be, and makes it better.

The first bite, of a warm, oozy cookie straight from the oven was, in all honesty, a disappointment, and I was fully prepared to admit defeat on this recipe without holding it against Boyce, but then I followed Orangette's advice and waited until they cooled to try again.

And that was when I fell in love.  They more than rock.  See, there may be whole wheat flour in these cookies, but there is also a whole lot of sugar, some dark chocolate, a perfect amount of coarse salt, and two hypnotic sticks of luscious, God save us all, buttah.  So what you end up with is a big cookie that is crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, both salty and sweet, rich with butter, and bursting with the absolute best kind of whole wheat flavor.

Trust me on this.  I am an expert on bad, brick-like whole-grain baked goods (I was a child of the seventies, after all) and I know of which I speak here when I say this is what I have always wanted in a cookie.  Cross my heart.  And this is not just because I was raised by hippies.

These cookies are the bomb.  And when the world as we know it ends tonight during The Ice Storm of the Century, I can be relatively sure of our chances of survival since we will be well-stocked with a platter of cookies that are both sweet and, if you can overlook the sugar and the butter, are actually healthy, too.

Well, sort of healthy.

Actually, not really healthy at all, but they do have fiber.  And that has to account for something.


WHOLE WHEAT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES, adapted from Kim Boyce (makes 20-40 cookies, depending on size, see note below)

Note: cookies made from about 1 Tbs (using a big rounded teaspoon) of dough make thin, wafer-like, very crispy cookies.  Cookies made with about 3 Tbs of dough (using 1/4-cup measuring cup) yield large, crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, more traditionally-textured cookies.  I loved them both ways and can't pick a favorite.

  • 3 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (try making your own)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces, or use bittersweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, or 325 degrees if cooking with convection heat, and butter two baking sheets.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  3. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar on low speed until blended, about two minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  4. Add eggs to bowl of stand mixer, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. In three or four batches, add the flour mixture to the wet mixture, mixing on low speed just until blended.  
  6. Add the chocolate, mixing on low speed, just until evenly combined.
  7. Remove bowl from mixer, and use your hand to turn and gently massage the dough, making sure all the flour has been incorporated into the mix (especially that little dusty puddle that always gets stuck in the bottom of the mixing bowl).
  8. Scoop mounds of dough onto the baking sheet (read note above about size - 1 to 3 Tbs-sized scoops).
  9. Bake the cookies on the top and bottom racks of the oven, for about 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through, until cookies are evenly browned.
  10. Repeat with remaining dough, or refrigerate (or freeze) the remaining dough for later use.
  11. Cool completely before eating.  These taste best when fully cooled.


Cindy said...

Your mama loves cookies, let's not omit that fact. I also just broke down and bought the jelly donuts for Elvis Presley's birthday. I ate two and feel like puking, you shoulda asked me over for cookies.

Sarah Beam said...

Mo-om. I thought we had a deal. No more KK for you. Elvis' habits didn't exactly keep him alive, now did they? I still have cookies if you want to come over and flush your system.

Jennifer Jo said...

Hold on a sec while I holler up to my husband and see if he minds if I order myself that cookbook right now...

(John! Can I order myself a cookbook?

Uh...Why do you need another cookbook?

'Cause it's about whole grains and has gotten good reviews and I've always wanted it!

I don't know...

Is that a yes?


We have some more discussing to do.

Sarah Beam said...

Um, yeah. See, my husband got sick to death of listening to me go on and on and on about this cookbook and finally just shouted at me to order it already. So, my advice to you, Jennifer Jo, is to keep at it...

Liquor License New York said...

This really looks delicious. I'm definitely craving for a plate of that right now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is definitely a must do recipe this weekend since I got my Food Handler Certification.