Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The dark horse chocolate chip cookie

Smitten Kitchen, The Kitchn, Layne, and Wednesday Chef all recently featured this book, so I had to buy it. I'm glad I did as I want to bake every single recipe Kim Boyce dreamed up, from the maple scones to the rye-crusted apricot boysenberry tarts and kamut flour cookies. Boyce treats grains not as a virtuous replacement for refined white flour, but as the source of enticing flavors and textures. This, to me, is the far more appealing approach. One morning last week I baked Boyce's strawberry barley scones which were lovely, aromatic, and crumbly. Then Isabel tried the chocolate chip cookies which call for 100% whole wheat flour and sounded too healthy to be delicious. They turned out to be some of the best chocolate chip cookies any of us have ever tasted -- dark, crispy, buttery, more intensely caramel flavored than others Isabel has baked. 
  Here's another fine attribute of these cookies: you eat one and you don't feel like you have to immediately eat ten more as fast as you can. When it comes to food, is "addictive" really a compliment? I wonder. This cookie is perfect when you're eating it, and when you're done, you're done. I need more cookies like that in my life.

About a year ago, I asked a food editor at a newspaper what the policy was on reprinting recipes from cookbooks. She said that in the context of a review it was generally considered acceptable to reprint from one to three recipes, with attribution, as you would reprint a passage from a novel. I don't think it's quite the same thing, but because I really do review cookbooks, because the cat is already out of the bag, because I want to know what other people think of these cookies, and because I think they might convince you to buy her book, here's Boyce's recipe:

Whole-wheat chocolate chip cookies

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment. 

2. Sift 3 cups whole wheat flour with 1 1/2 tsps. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or salt that may have remained in the sifter.

3. Cream 8 oz. cold unsalted butter with 1 cup dark brown sugar and 1 cup white sugar just until the sugars are mixed, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape the bowl.

4.  Add 2 eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in 2 tsp. vanilla.

5.  Add flour and mix until just barely combined. 

6. Add 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks (you can chop your own, but Isabel used Guittard chunks.) Use your hands to finish mixing. 

7. Scoop mounds of dough about 3 TBS in size onto the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them. 

8. Bake for 16-20 minutes. 

Revised cookie ranking:
1. Cakewalk by Kate Moses (Robust cookies flavored with espresso powder, irresistible and possibly unbeatable.)
2. Baking by Dorie Greenspan (The classic -- but better.) 
3. Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
4. All Recipes (Stout, chewy, more-ish)
5.  Toll House (The classic.)
5. Ad Hoc at Home (Too much severe chocolate, too little cookie)
6. Joy of Cooking, 1975 (Thin, pale, unimpressive.)

The top three cookies are neck-and-neck so Isabel will ultimately have to retest. Can't wait.
She's going to bake David Lebovitz's recipe this week.


  1. thanks to Isabel for her great research.

  2. this looks great! How do you cream cold butter?

  3. Well, that's that. Now I have to buy it. The universe said.

  4. I usually replace a little of the ap with whole wheat when I do cookies to 'healthy' them up a bit. This might give me the confidence to go all-in.

  5. Catherine Newman blogged about this recipe at family.com, too. She mentioned that the cookies are best eaten the same day. Have you noticed whether they keep as well as other cookies? I don't really want pressure to eat them all at once!

  6. I have the book too, and also want to bake most everything in it (I wrote a favorable review on Amazon under my name here). I also made and loved the chocolate chip cookies. I didn't recommend them previously because they seemed too "crunchy" for your taste, Tipsy, but I should not have pigeonholed you. In fact, I'm not particularly crunchy, either, though I do have a growing fascination with all these now trendy ancient and alt-flours like Kamut, amaranth, millet, teff, quinoa, and so on.

    To answer Anonymous, yes, these cookies do keep well. They were on my counter for three days and remained fresh and chewy the whole time. I also froze half the dough (scooped into golfball-size orbs and flash frozen) and have since baked two or three cookies at a time when the craving hits, with no loss of deliciousness.

    I should add that I used white wholewheat flour, from King Arthur. I prefer its less bitter taste in baked goods.

  7. i'm going to try making these today. one question for all of you: what kind of whole wheat flour. I've noticed that when my whole wheat breads come out MUCH better if i use stone ground. what do you recommend for these?

  8. Please do tell us more about your cooking from this book! I added it to my wish list after reading The Wednesday Chef's post, but I may have to break down and go out and buy it!

  9. Thanks, Honest Cook, for the info. I love KA white wheat too, and I have been freezing cookie dough a lot lately. I'll have to try these now!

  10. Elise -- I don't know, I guess you just put it in the mixer and let her rip? I have to ask Isabel what she did.
    Anonymous 6:12 -- I thought they were great for days after they were baked.

    Anonnymous 10:52 -- I don't know what flour Isabel used. Probably NOT stone ground, though.

  11. My two favorite bloggers, Tipsy and Catherine Newman, blogging about the same recipe. I guess I have to go buy that book now!

  12. Has Isabel tried Insalata's Ranger Cookies? Have to say the addition of cornflakes provided a nice crunchy contrast in an otherwise chewy cookie (IMHO, chocolate chip cookies are better chewy than crispy)!

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