Friday, May 20, 2011
I’m surprised that my copy of Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce isn’t stained with drool yet. It is, however, liberally tagged with sticky notes, marking the pages of recipes I want to make now. It will probably also one day have splatters of various baking ingredients worn like badges of honor accumulated as I bake my way through this wonderful book. And I will bake my way through this one, at least mostly. I can just tell. Sure, there are a few recipes that I intend to skip (I’m not feeling quite brave enough to put aside my beet hatred to try the Quinoa and Beet Pancakes on p. 140, for example), but I’m already amping up my exercise routine to burn off the extra calories I know I won’t be able to resist.
To kick things off, I tried the recipe I had seen raved about the most on the internet: Chocolate Chip Cookies (p. 41) made with 100 % whole wheat flour. These cookies are indeed quite fabulous. Sure, they’re just a plain chocolate chip cookie, but that’s the whole wonderful surprise. A good, nay, great plain ol’ chocolate chip cookie, can be made with whole wheat flour. All whole wheat flour. With none of the white stuff. None.
These cookies are slightly soft in the middle and crispy on the outside while still a little warm, and they cool into pleasantly crunchy cookies with just a subtle hint of something a bit nuttier, heartier, and whole-grainier than a traditional white flour cookie. They don’t taste like some kind of health-food compromise (plenty of butter, sugar and good-quality dark chocolate see to that). They taste like, well, like a really good chocolate chip cookie.
Whole wheat chocolate chip cookies are just as easy to make as any other chocolate chip cookie. I loved that he recipe calls for cold butter because I usually forget to take some out to soften when I want to bake. I think the best way to tackle the creaming process (blending the butter and sugar) with the cold butter is to use a heavy duty mixer. I think that you might be able to use softened butter if you plan to mix the batter with a spoon or lower-power hand-held mixer.
I used good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips instead of the chopped chocolate bar in the original recipe, but I think that really didn’t change much. Also, the dough in this recipe is designed to go straight from the bowl to the cookie sheet to the oven, but I put aside some dough in the refrigerator to bake a day or two later. The refrigerated dough performed just as well, although I did not notice the improvement in flavor that I usually get from chilling a drop cookie dough before baking.
Since these cookies are so great, I’m left wondering why we don’t just make all or most of our cookies with whole grain flours. To me there was no compromise with the possible exception of crunchiness if you prefer a soft or chewy cookie (and there’s probably a simple way to adjust the recipe if you want something like that.) If you’re on the fence about accepting more whole grains into your life, this cookie might just be the perfect gateway. And if you’re feeding them to a skeptic, just withhold information. They’ll never know they’re eating whole grains.
The recipe for these cookies is on p. 41 of Good to the Grain. An adaptation can also be found at the blog Orangette, and there’s a skillet cookie version at 101 Cookbooks.
Messy Apron recipes like this one: Milk Chocolate Chip and M & M Cookies, Chocolate Cherry Oatmeal Cookies with Black Walnuts
One year ago: Spinach and Feta Souffle
Two years ago: Spring Vegetable Tabbouleh