Thursday, February 09, 2006

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are from Kim Boyce's wildly inspiring cookbook Good to the Grain, and they are made with, um, 100% whole-wheat flour. That's right. 100%.

And they are just insanely delicious. "Well they should be," my friend Peggy said, reading over my shoulder. "Look at all that butter and sugar and chocolate!" Exactly. But here's how I think about it: butter and sugar are like escorts. If what they're escorting into your body is white flour, then okay, it's a total treat, and just have a little and don't worry about it. But if they're actually escorting nutrients? Like here, in the form of all those lovely B vitamins and fiber and essential fatty acids from the bran- and germ-rich whole-wheat? Then, for me, this is a nutritional red carpet situation, everybody glittering and wearing their designer dresses, the butter and sugar standing back while the paparazzi snap pictures.

I don't mean I'm going to serve the cookies for dinner (please, please let me not ever serve them for dinner). I just mean they've got a lot to offer. Rather than cookies that, say, don't have much butter and sugar--but also don't have much of anything good. I would consider adding nuts and dried fruits to up the nutrient quotient even further. And quinoa flakes! Amaranth dust! Just kidding. (I think.)

Okay. Sorry for the whole foods rant. I am--Can you tell?--figuring out about food as I go. But make these anyway because they're so crunchy and chewy, and the whole wheat gives them such a deep, nutty flavor. They are our go-to lunchbox cookies.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 30
Total time: 45 minutes

In her introduction, Kim Boyce writes: "These cookies are the size of your palm, with thick, chewy edges, soft centers, and big chocolate chunks. It's surprising just how delicious this whole-wheat version of an old classic is." Ditto from me. I am transcribing this recipe almost verbatim; I didn't change a thing. Except for using salted butter without decreasing the amount of salt called for. Which I recommend doing (of course).

Dry mix:
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (or half as much table salt)

Wet mix:
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold butter (I used salted), cut into half-inch pieces
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces (mine was semisweet; I imagine you could just use chocolate chips and it would be fine)

Place 2 racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat it to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl.

Add the butter and sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, then add the chocolate and mix on low speed until combined.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size (I used a scant 1/4-cup as a measure), leaving 3 inches between them. They spread a lot.

Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and back to front halfway through, until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment, to the counter to cool. Eat warm or, ideally, no later than later the same day--though they're good for a couple of days.

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