Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

So, um.

I have to tell you something.

I made you a cookie…but I eated it.

It’s incredible what a multitude of sins can be forgiven when people see you walking through the door carrying a skillet-sized chocolate-studded cookie.  For example, if you wanted to get back in your landlord’s good graces after, say, accidentally breaking a door clean off your shower less than a month after moving in…bringing this cookie to his birthday dinner might be a way to do that.  Not that I would know.

This was also a handy-dandy excuse to try out a bugaboo of mine: chocolate chip cookies with whole wheat.  I attempted a batch once, in high school, and the result was a solid mass of sandy chocolate-studded disappointment glued to the bottom of the baking sheet.

Now, of course, I’ve learned.  I’ve learned that you can’t just swap out whole wheat flour for refined and expect it to behave the same way.  I’ve learned that you can’t improvise cookie recipes–you have to follow the rules.  And I’ve learned that it’s better to look harder, and find recipes that have already been tried and reviewed, practiced and refined, than to just trust my fickle gut.  I set my Googler to ludicrous speed, and found a recipe that looked promising, and could flex to accommodate one giant cookie as well as many munchkin cookies.

This was not a solid mass of sandy disappointment.

This giant cookie–the one I made for you, and then ate–is a real grown-up kinda cookie.  It’s richer and chewier than its refined-flour cousins, not overly sweet or cloying, with a deep earthy flavor that’s a great foil for chocolate.  Using chopped-up chunks of chocolate, rather than chips, meant that some stayed melted and gooey for hours inside the cookie, while others kept their crisp integrity, creating pockets of crunch and cream throughout.

My only complaint?  I used bittersweet chocolate, as the recipe suggested, and found it just a shade too intense.  The subtle bitterness of the whole wheat, combined with the bitter chocolate, was a little hard to take.  This dough definitely seems made for semisweet or dark chocolate.  (I don’t endorse milk chocolate for anything, ever.  Sorry.)

That being said, our little band of birthdayers didn’t seem to mind at all.  We didn’t have vanilla ice cream, so we slathered big wedges of cookie with unsweetened Greek yogurt, which was unexpectedly divine–lush and tangy against the nutty, chewy cookie.  We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore, and then we nibbled until we couldn’t nibble anymore.

I’m really sorry.  It was your cookie.  But I eated it.

I hope you’ll understand.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie(s) (makes about 2 dozen regular cookies, or one 10-inch skillet cookie)

Adapted from Good to the Grain, via 101 Cookbooks and Orangette

Note: Since posting this recipe, I’ve experimented a bit, and now I make these with half the amount of sugar–1/2 cup brown, 1/2 cup granulated. You could also use all brown sugar, which makes for a slightly softer, cakier cookie.

8 ounces semisweet or dark chocolate

3 cups whole wheat flour (for a lighter flavor, try white whole wheat flour)

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla and/or almond extract

Chop the chocolate into unevenly-sized chunks, between 1/4 and 1/2 inches.  Ideally, you want a mixture of big chunks, small chunks and little shards.  Set aside.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Whisk to combine, and set aside.

In another large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter cubes, brown sugar and granulated sugar.  Cream the butter and sugar for about 2 minutes (on low speed, if using an electric mixer).  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until thoroughly blended, then beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until the flour is just incorporated, about 30 seconds.  If you need to, use a rubber spatula or your hands to incorporate the last of the flour.  Fold in the chocolate chunks, making sure they’re evenly distributed throughout the dough.

Optional step: Press a piece of plastic wrap directly over the dough in the bowl, and refrigerate overnight, or for up to two days.  The longer you chill the dough, the drier and crumblier it will get, and the thicker and tastier the resulting cookies will be. Keep in mind that it will be much more difficult to scoop or spread the dough once it’s cold.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350º F.  Then, make your choice:

  • For traditional cookies: Position the oven racks to divide the oven in thirds.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (or butter or spray them, if you’re parchment-less).  Scoop out mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size, and place them on the baking sheets about 3 inches apart.  Bake for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through.  When the cookies are evenly browned and smelling too heavenly to resist, remove from the oven.  Let them sit for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to finish cooling–if you can keep your mitts off them that long.
  • For one giant cookie: Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven.  Butter or spray a 10-inch cast iron skillet, or other heavy ovenproof skillet, that is at least 2 inches deep.  (If you’re worried about overflow, you can put a baking sheet on the oven rack first, then set the skillet on top once it’s filled with dough.)  Scrape the cookie dough into the skillet, pressing it out into an even layer and making sure the chocolate is evenly distributed throughout.  Bake for 35 to 45 minutes.  The cookie is ready when it’s golden brown around the edges and set in the center.  Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes, then slice into wedges or squares.

Here’s a neat trick: if you don’t want to make your entire batch of cookies right away, you can freeze individual cookies and bake them later.  Scoop the cookies out onto baking sheets, cover them with plastic wrap, and put them in the freezer until they’re frozen solid.  Then pop them into a zip-top freezer bag, and pull out a cookie or two whenever you need a fix.  They can be baked directly from the freezer–just add a couple minutes to the cooking time.  Plus, this takes care of the chilling process, so no need to refrigerate the dough before scooping and freezing it.  Win-win?  I think so.

1 Comment

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One response to “Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

  1. Jess Chung

    Noel and I made whole wheat chocolate chip cookies last spring for some parties and we prefer them, too. They’re definitely more “adult,” but that just makes them more awesome. Also, I agree with you on the chocolate for these — semi-sweet FTW.

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