I eat a lot of whole grains. Mostly whole grains, if I’m being honest. But I’m skeptical when it comes to baking with them and I would definitely argue that they have no place in cookies. I’ll admit that I have a couple whole wheat muffin recipes that I love, and oatmeal is an obvious exception and belongs in everything, but I do tend to shrink away from the super crunchy baking that requires 8 types of whole grain flour and lords them over you with an aggravating, self-satisfied sense of superiority. White flour is delicious, alright? Leave me alone with my baguette.
Recently though, all my favorite bloggers have been whispering, singing and shouting the praises of Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. If you believe all the hype, this is a badass cookbook, honest and interesting and, most importantly, delicious. Of all the recipes from this book that have been popping up online have been described as amazing, perfect, and revelatory. Despite this, there were those lingering doubts. And then Orangette described these whole wheat chocolate chip cookies as something akin to a McVities Digestive biscuit. That was all I needed. SOLD.
Are you familiar with McVities? If not, you should do something about that ASAP. They are essentially an English tea biscuit. I know of them because my Canadian grandfather used to snack on them and they are, by far, one of my favorite treats. They’re wheaty and crumbly, with a honeyed background that’s just sweet enough. I can eat a whole sleeve in one sitting, easy. So, when I heard that these cookies may, in some small way, resemble them, I gave in and got to baking.
Two things were surprising about this recipe. The first was that it called for creaming cold, cubed butter, rather than the more traditional, room temperature butter. I still haven’t figured that one out, but hey, it worked, so I’m not asking any questions. The second was that it called ONLY for whole wheat flour. Most “whole wheat” recipes I’ve encountered call for at least a little bit of white flour as well; it tends to keep things more tender, less tough. I guess if you’re going to call yourself “whole wheat,” you should go for the gold. Way to be self-aware, cookies; your therapist would be so proud.
These cookies were pretty damn fantastic. The texture was absolutely perfect: chewy around the edges and soft through the middle. They weren’t at all dense and tough like I expected them to be; instead, they just had that perfect chocolate chip cookie bite. The whole wheat lent a floral, nutty flavor reminiscent of oatmeal and yet, more…pure? I think this was because there were no other spices, like the ever-present cinnamon, to interfere with the wheatiness. My favorite part, I think, was that they were ever-so-slightly salty. I can only attribute this to some sort of intangible chemistry-based difference between whole wheat and white flour, because there just wasn’t that much salt in these guys. And yet, there was a distinct salty bite playing off the chocolate and brown sugar….kind of like the saltiness of a digestive biscuit. I don’t think these cookies would satiate a chocolate chip cookie craving; they’re just too different. But, these cookies are good enough to stand on their own and call for their own, specific craving. I’ll be making them again and I (sigh, I give) may need to spend some quality time with this cookbook.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
I think I love the chopped-chocolate in cookies (rather than chips). It means you end up with large gooey chocolate sections sections dotted with tiny chocolate slivers. These freeze (raw) and bake off really well.
3 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t kosher salt
2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes (see note above)
1 c lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 lg eggs
1 t vanilla extract
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
- In a standing mixer, beat the cold butter and two sugars on low, until just combined
- Scrape the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, incorporating after each addition
- Blend in the vanilla, then add the flour and mix on low until evenly incorporated
- Add the chocolate and again, mix on low until combined
- Scoop out mounds of dough (~3 T each; I used a standard ice cream scoop) onto the parchment lined sheets, about 3″ apart
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned
- Transfer the entire sheet of parchment to a cooling rack and cool