8.31.2011

I call them at home

These cookies.


These cookies.

For almost two months now, I’ve been mixing the dough, scooping it into mounds, parking it in the fridge, baking off a cookie or so at a time and, when the dough runs out, starting all over again. These cookies are from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain, which came out in the spring of 2010. In the year or so since, they’ve exploded onto the scene. (We’re a “scene,” right, we who hang around the interwebs swapping recipes and telling stories? I like to think so.) Some very smart people have already said some very smart things about these cookies, so I didn’t plan on mentioning them here. I’d just keep mixing, and scooping, and chilling, and baking, quietly enjoying my cookies and kicking myself between bites for having taken so long to make them in the first place.

But over the last couple of months, it has come to my attention that there are people out there, good, salt of the earth, chocolate-chip-cookie-loving people who, like me, are only now awakening to the glory of Kim Boyce’s cookies. I know some of these people. I call them at home. In fact, anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that there is an entire sub-population on this planet that is just now trying them, just now turning on ovens and baking first batches. Not that I’m implying a class system of chocolate chip cookie eaters based on who has, and who has not, experienced these cookies. (Or am I?) In any case, it has finally dawned on me that maybe, just maybe one of you reading today has never heard of them. That’s not a risk I’m willing to take.


I first made these cookies with my sister, Anna, who came to visit in early July. We prepared the dough on a Friday morning, and left it in the fridge until the following night, when we – Anna, Eli, and I – piled onto our (new! pink!) sofa to watch The Adjustment Bureau (a movie that, incidentally, features more Jason Bourne-style running scenes than all three Bourne films combined). We baked off three cookies, one for each of us, and once they were cool enough for consumption, we ferried them over to the coffee table in front of the television. We were about a half an hour into the movie, and we kept right on watching while we took our first bites. What happened next I can only describe as silent pandemonium. We looked down at our plates, and said, “!!!!” We looked up at each other, and said, “????” Down. Up. Down. Up. “!!!!” “????” “!!!!” “????” Eli and I were already scrambling for the remote when Anna yelled, “PAUSE!” and we spent the next few minutes in deep discussion over what, what?, I ask you, makes this cookie so very, very good. (We didn’t come up with a single satisfying answer, by the way. We tried out words like “nubby,” “textured,” “pebbly,” and “thick,” all of which make it sound as though eating this cookie is like taking a bite out of your favorite sweater. I promise you, it’s nothing like that at all.) Anna asked for the recipe so that she could, and I quote, “blow people’s minds.” The following week, back home in Columbus, Ohio, that’s what she did.

And so it began: A few days after Anna left, I baked off one of the remaining cookies for a friend. She asked for the recipe. Then, my mother came to visit. She wanted it, too. Eli had a birthday at the beginning of this month and asked for these cookies in lieu of a cake. His brothers were in town, and a few friends came by, and I was so busy chatting with everyone (the perils of an open kitchen!) that I lost track of what my hands were doing, namely, pressing double, maybe triple, the usual amount of salt flakes into those poor lumps of dough. The cookies turned out so salty that no one even tried to pretend otherwise. Still, they ate them. And asked for the recipe. I tell you, these cookies can do no wrong.


The defining feature of this cookie is that it’s made exclusively with whole wheat flour, which does all sorts of terrific things for its flavor and texture. You might wonder at first what else is in there, maybe ground walnuts or oats, or some kind of earthy mystery spice. But that’s just the whole wheat talking. Whole wheat, it turns out, has some important things to say. These cookies bake up fat and tall, with a crisp, almost crust-like exterior. On the inside, they’re soft, even borderline flakey. They remind me a little of scones or buttermilk biscuits in that way. Eli told me not to tell you that, since he thinks it might give you the wrong idea about these cookies, but I decided to toss it out there, anyway. When you taste them, maybe you’ll see what I mean.

Most interesting to me about these cookies is the One Cookie Phenomenon (OCP) they seem to inspire. It’s a phenomenon that I never knew existed in the land of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, where the insatiable desire for cookie after cookie after cookie reigns supreme. You’ve been there, right? All cookied out, and maybe even mildly sick? This cookie gets how that can happen, and it has your back. Yes, you spend your whole time with this cookie wishing it would never end. But then it does, and you realize you’re okay. You’re filled with precisely the right amount of cookie, and you are done. And very, very happy.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain, by Kim Boyce

Boyce writes that “this dough is made to go straight from the bowl into the oven” (just be sure to use cold butter), but I followed a tip from Molly and chilled the pre-scooped dough. I’ve let the dough age anywhere from 18 hours to a whole week. I really like the way these mature dough balls bake up, fat, and tall, and rich in flavor, so I prepare the dough, scoop it into individual cookies, and store them in the fridge on a baking sheet wrapped in plastic. Then, when the mood strikes, I bake them off a cookie or two at a time. Boyce breaks down her ingredient list into two categories, “dry mix” and “wet mix.” I like that, since it helps me organize my brain and my bowls before I get started. A note about the dry ingredients: Boyce has you sift them into a bowl, but I whisk them together, instead.

Dry ingredients:
3 c. whole wheat flour
1½ tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1½ tsp. kosher salt

Wet ingredients:
2 sticks (8 oz.) cold, unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (I use Scharffen Berger, 62%), roughly chopped into ¼- and ½-inch pieces

Sea salt flakes for finishing. (I use Maldon.)

[If you plan on baking these cookies right away, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment.]

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low speed until just blended. (It should take about 2 minutes.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until each one is incorporated. Mix in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture to the bowl, and blend on low speed until the flour is just incorporated. If there are any small pockets of flour lurking in the dough, rub them in with your fingers. (Much better, Boyce says, than over-mixing.)

Scoop the dough – about 3 tablespoons per cookie – onto the baking sheets. I use a 1½-tablespoon ice cream scoop and pile one level scoop on top of another for added height. If you’re going the chill-now-bake-later-route, you can crowd them all onto a single sheet so that they’ll take up less room in the fridge. (You’ll remove the two or three or however many cookies to a separate sheet when you’re ready to bake them.) If you’ll be baking the cookies right away, you’ll need about 3 inches between them.

Just before baking, press a few flakes of salt into each dough ball. Boyce suggests a baking time of 16-20 minutes at 350 degrees. My chilled dough takes an even 20. If you’re baking up a bunch at a time, rotate the baking sheets halfway through. Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment, to the counter to cool. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Yield: a little over 20 cookies

33 comments:

Jess said...

I don't think I could be trusted to just bake off "one or two." My own personal yield would be the "a little over 20 cookies." Thanks for sharing! I swear I don't live under a rock, and yet I did not know about this recipe before reading this post.

Molly said...

I HAVE seen this recipe, thanks to Molly. I even went out and bought whole wheat flour, she made it sound so alluring. The unopened package hung out in the back of the pantry, feeling a bit unloved, I imagine, until this weekend, when we discovered a colony of icky things had made my baking goods their new home. Out went the whole wheat flour, along with everything else. To do list for this weekend: a trip to The Container Store, and then to replace all my flours. And then, and then, make these cookies!

Rachel said...

I'll be among those people who is just now trying these cookies, although I have seen them on other blogs. Your post put me over the edge of not being able to wait any longer before baking them!
I like how you baked just a few at a time. That is truly the best way to enjoy cookies! I remembera college friend doing that in his toaster oven. Genius!

Nicole said...

I'm new to your blog and I've just started following you on twitter. Always nice to find a new lovely blog to read with inspiringly delicious recipes. I am already looking forward to trying your scones and rugelach.
Happy September.

Sara said...

I think I've baked about half the recipes in that book in the past year, so I certainly don't need to be called at home ;-). But I still enjoyed reading about them!

Žiupsnelisdruskos said...

You're back!!! And with a bang! Who can go wrong with these cookies?!

But mostly I'm happy you're back. Please stay. We've missed your stories.

Gemma said...

I have been meaning to bake these for far too long. Maybe this weekend...

Sally said...

These look fantastic! I'll have to make them... Meanwhile, I've made THREE rounds of the cinnamon bread, and am addicted!

Hope your third trimester is going well!

Anna said...

I love this book, Jess! How are you feeling? Not long to go now....:)

Janet said...

I spend way too much of my life reading cooking/baking blogs, and have never heard of these cookies. Must be one of Molly's that I missed.

They sound great; I will try them.

Yes, you guys are most definitely 'a scene'!

Julia's Bookbag said...

Ok gotta tell you, I have NOT heard of these cookies, and I am VERY HAPPY RIGHT NOW to have discovered them! I'm convinced that whole wheat flour is the key to everything great, seriously. I CANNOT WAIT to try these! Thank you thank you :) ~Melissa

linda said...

i did peruse KB book & noticed this recipe…put on my bake list but never did…will give them a go after reading this lovely post…
glad that you are surrounded by those you hold dear & we all eagerly
await baby news!! update us as to how you are doing…please!!
:)

molly said...

Oy. I feel like a flunkee. I made these cookies. I did not love them. I only barely liked them. Maybe I made some terrible mistake? Probably, I need to try again. Yes, given the source, probably, most definitely.

Welcome bake, Jess. (Ho! I actually mis-typed that. You know what I meant. Well, probably both.)

Kasey said...

These are pretty much the best cookies ever, I've determined. I am patiently waiting for Kim's next book. Hope the pregnancy is treating you well!

Rogue Unicorn said...

Yes! Another convert to the most perfect chocolate chip cookies in the world. Keep spreading the word, my friend.
Also, I do like to think we are a scene.
xo
t

momMe said...

Imagine a little girl coming home from school with her book bag in tow to find one of these cookies warm from the oven accompanied by a cold glass of milk waiting for her. Munching away, telling her mom about her day --- heaven!! It's one of the images this cookie conjures up for me. Love the cookie, love you!

Jane said...

I discovered these cookies through Molly too, they're pretty spectacular. So spectacular, my colleague's 4 year old daughter deemed them the Bestest Cookies in the Whole World!

Elishag said...

Made these tonight - yum, good thing I only baked 2 tonight and put the rest of the dough in the refrigerator or I would have ate way too many!

anya said...

Just recently I was baking these cookies almost every day. And I must admit I didn't bake off a cookie or two from the dough resting and aging in the fridge, I baked them all, a little over twenty of the beggars in the course of one day. And then I made them again. I couldn't reason what I was doing. There is no will power involved when these whole wheat chocolate chip lovelies are around. I had to make a serious effort to swear off them for a little while, just, you know, to catch my breath.

jellybeanandjoy said...

Yum! Whole wheat flour... how exciting. I'm looking forward to giving these a whirl.

baking in boca said...

I don't know why I was skeptical , but I was wrong. As a former tate's recipe fan I'm converted. I used chips and doubled the amount and perfection. Will be my go to recipe although I should hide it so I don't make them every day!

Monica said...

I had a similar experience to yours. My jaw dropped when I tasted the batter. Pre-baking! I think i was so shocked b/c I expected whole wheat cookies to taste like health food. Now, I'm convinced it's the only way to bake them. And everyone asks for the recipe when I make them too!

rental mobil jakarta said...

Very nice, thanks for sharing.

Talley said...

first you bowl me over with adorable-to-die-for baby pictures (congrats!!!!) and then I keep scrolling only to find what is described as expletive inducing chocolate chip cookies. You can rest assure that your post was worth sending out into the blog-o-sphere scene because I had never seen or heard of these magical cookies before. I just baked my first batch. They are perfect. Not as perfect as that little bundle of joy that you just welcomed into the world, but they are pretty close. thank you thank you!

ameanderingmango said...

Cookies look wonderful! Love the use of wholemeal flour... Sweet blog and congrats on the little one in your most recent post!

Katrina said...

I can't find salt flakes! Could I use coarse salt, or is that a horrible idea?
Congratulations on your beautiful baby!

Jess said...

Hi, Katrina. I think coarse salt will be great. Carry on!

Janet said...

I've made them twice so far. Excellent flavor and tremendous texture both times.

The first time I dutifully followed the instruction to use parchment paper; the second time I forgot, and just baked them on an ungreased baking sheet. I didn't find any difference in the finished product. The second time I let them cool for around 10 minutes on the sheet, then stacked them up in a bowl to cool completely.

Also, if anyone is nervous about these tasting too whole-grainy, I made these for my husband's family, which is a 100% white flour type of crowd, and they all LOVED them. And I used regular whole wheat flour, not white whole wheat.

blackdogfoodblog.com said...

Looks yummy, lovely photography...I should try this recipe!!

Molly said...

Hi Jess,
I made these cookies -- finally -- tonight for a get-together we're having on Saturday night. I panicked a little when I realized the recipe doesn't actually say when to add the chocolate chips. I was worried Boyce had some sort of special technique or surprising moment when they were added. My husband calmed me down -- he can recite the recipe from the back of the Toll House chip bag just as sure as he can recite the Lord's Prayer -- so I added them at the presumed time. They are sitting in my fridge right now, waiting to be baked, but just in case, they're supposed to be added after the flour is just incorporated, before being scooped?
Hope all is well. Mia is beyond scrumptious. Can't get enough photos of her gorgeous eyes.

Jess said...

Oh my goodness, Molly, I'm mortified! My mistake, obviously. (Thanks for catching it!) Yes, you added the chocolate at precisely the right time. I'll make the change.

Nadine said...

Just made those cookies...fantastic! I was skeptical till the very end until I tasted them. now I can fool myself with some "healthy whole wheat cookies"

Magpie said...

I even have that cookbook, and I haven't tried those. But I will now.