For Christmas this year I received Kim Boyce's book Good to the Grain which had been on my to-read list forever. One of the first recipes in the book is for chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour. If I had just stumbled upon a recipe like this on a random website I would probably just pass it by thinking something cynical along the lines of: "I'd like my cookies to taste like cookies.. not like cookie replacements that aren't actually healthy anyways". However, this book and these cookies have gotten many good reviews and they aren't portrayed as a "healthier cookie" but rather a cookie that benefits from the nutty flavor of the whole wheat. Since flour is my favorite ingredient I wanted to take the opportunity to see how different flours could improve baked goods with their complex flavors.
The result is a cookie that doesn't tastes whole grain or like its trying to be more wholesome, it tastes like a chocolate chip cookie that has an almost brown sugar or nutty flavor to it.
The first step in making these cookies is to sift the whole wheat flour. Scooping up a cup of flour straight from the bag or bin usually results in a densely packed cup which throws the proportions of the recipe off. Sifting the flour works air into it and gives you a more consistent amount of flour in each cup.
When whole wheat flour is sifted the bran get separated from the flour. Since we want the flavor from the bran to bake into the cookies it gets dumped out of the sifter and stirred back into the flour. Then the rest of the dry ingredients get sifted in and set aside.
The next step is to combine the wet ingredients in the bowl of a mixer.The butter in this recipe is cold and cut into pieces instead of the standard soft butter that gets creamed with the sugar. The cold butter is still mixed with the sugar but just until they are blended. To be honest, I don't know why this recipe uses cold butter but the cookies bake up the perfect texture so I have decided not to mess around with a good thing.
When I tasted one of the cookies warm from the oven it was crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the center. The kind of texture that I aim to get from my traditional chocolate chip cookies. The flavor of the whole wheat flour was definitely there but not in a bad way...
.. Once the cookies had cooled that whole wheat taste was gone and was replaced with a delicious but hard to guess flavor that was sort of nutty. The next day I brought some to my parents house (I didn't tell them the cookies were made with whole wheat flour) and they guessed the extra flavor to be maybe a little cinnamon.. or ginger? or.. nutmeg? I think the flour really adds to the cookie. I actually think that they tasted even better on the third day than on the first.
I think the biggest surprise with these cookies is how similar the texture is to cookies baked with white flour. In fact, it was better than some of the white flour cookies that I've had in the past. I'll be baking these again for sure and I'm looking forward to trying out the other recipes in her book.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Good to the Grain
3 cups whole wheat flour
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chopped
Preheat oven to 350 an light grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper
1. Sift the whole wheat flour. Dump the bran back into the flour and stir it in. Sift in the baking powder, soda, an salt. Set bowl aside
2. In the bowl of a mixer combine the butter and the two cups of sugar. Mix on low with a paddle until the butter and sugars are blended. Then beat in the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture on low until it is just combined
3. Add the chocolate to the batter and then mix on low until just combined. Use your hands to work the dough a bit until the ingredient are all incorporated.
4. Scoop out an ice cream scoop (three tablespoons) of dough for each cookie. Shape into the ball and place on the cookie sheets with three inches between them. This will be about six cookies per sheet.
5. Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes until they are evenly dark brown. Transfer the cookies to cool on the counter. She says that the cookies are the best day of but I would argue that they are better a few days later. Store the cookies in an airtight container. If you want the centers to stay soft then stick a piece of bread in the container with them to retain the moisture