I have been on the hunt for the perfect whole wheat cookies for over a year now. A girl can only eat so many cookies, though, so it has been a long and slow process that paused during a crazy hot summer. In my attempt to narrow down the possibilities, I searched around for the highest authorities on chocolate chip cookies and sampled the most promising cookie recipes I could find.
First, I tried baking a whole wheat version of The New York Times’ chocolate chip cookies during a snow storm last year. I baked a few cookies with the fresh dough and then let the dough rest overnight as directed. From that, I learned that cookies really are better if you let the dough age for 12 to 72 hours—the dry dough ingredients soak up the rest of the ingredients over time, which ultimately produces a better cookie. I’ve tried it and it’s true.
The New York Times cookies, though? Everyone agreed they were really good, but they weren’t what I was looking for (blasphemy to some of you, I’m sure!). They didn’t have enough of that gooey, brown sugary goodness on the inside. They were a little too crisp, too ready to snap.
Then Molly Wizenberg waxed poetic about Kim Boyce’s whole grain chocolate chip cookies in Good to the Grain. Molly knows her stuff and she’s from Oklahoma so I listen to her real good. However, those cookies left a little to be desired, too. They weren’t toothsome enough.
On the upside, I took one of my favorite pictures of Cookie the day I made those cookies:
So a couple of months ago, I signed up for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, hosted by Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen. Basically, it entailed baking three dozen cookies and sending a dozen to three bloggers, while receiving three dozen from three other bloggers. It’s a logistical nightmare that I wouldn’t want to organize but I thought it would be fun to participate!
True to form, I waited until the day before the deadline to decide what to bake. I flipped through my favorite cookbooks for inspiration and had almost settled on Maria Speck’s lemon and rosemary cookies in Ancient Grains for Modern Meals before I cracked open Heidi Swanson‘s Super Natural Cooking and came across her recipe for mesquite chocolate chip cookies. I decided to continue my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie and gave her recipe a shot.
I based the recipe below off of Heidi’s recipe, but made several notable substitutions and ended up with three dozen of my ideal chocolate chip cookies—golden on top, crisp around the edges, with a soft, moist interior oozing with dark chocolate chips. To get there, I traded easier-to-find whole spelt flour for expensive mesquite flour (they both have a slightly malty flavor and low gluten content, but feel free to use more whole wheat pastry flour instead). I swapped 1/3 cup maple syrup for a 1/2 cup of raw sugar, which is the recommended substitution ratio in the Green Market Baking Book. Next time, I’ll try reducing the raw sugar by another half cup in favor of an additional 1/3 cup of maple syrup.
I didn’t want oatmeal cookies, and my arm was giving up after mixing in even a half cup of oats, so I stopped at one cup. These are not chewy oatmeal cookies, mind you. The oats add a bit of extra fluffiness. They’re magical. Lastly, I mixed a hint of cinnamon into the dough, let the dough rest overnight and sprinkled the warm cookies with Maldon sea salt, which is a bit of a splurge but worth its weight in gold. However, my idea of a perfect recipe is one that is accessible, so it’s optional.
By the time I was ready to put the third dozen in the oven, I realized that eleven minutes is too long. Ten minutes is just right. I was apprehensive that the cookies might dry out during shipping but carried on.
I was so relieved when I received this sweet facebook comment from one of the recipients, Andrea of Recipes for Divine Living: So, I heard my son in the kitchen checking out the cookies we got and heard in this appalled voice, “You got to be kidding, whole wheat?”. The next thing I see is, him sitting down with about 5 cookies and a glass a milk trying to tell me, with a mouth crambed full of cookies, how good they are and how much he loves them. Thanks and great job, the were delicious.
Apologies to the two recipients who didn’t receive their cookies in a pretty box, but in recycled book boxes instead. The white box was actually recycled from one of the dozens of cookies I received. Call me lazy and cheap… or eco-friendly and hip. ;)
- 2 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup whole spelt flour (or an additional cup of whole wheat pastry flour)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups raw (turbinado) sugar
- 1/3 cup real maple syrup
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (60% or higher)
- Maldon salt (optional), for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.
- In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, then beat in the sugar.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time.
- Whisk in the vanilla extract and maple syrup.
- Add the dry ingredients in 3 increments, stirring between each addition. Once you’re done mixing in the last of the dry ingredients, you should have a moist, uniformly brown dough.
- Stir in the chocolate chips and oats by hand until they are evenly distributed. Put some muscle into it!
- Drop about two tablespoon of dough per cookie onto the baking sheet, leaving about two inches of space around each cookie.
- Bake for 10 minutes, until the tops are just golden. Err on the side of underbaking.
- Allow the cookies to set on the baking sheet for about a minute and transfer them to a cooling rack. If desired, sprinkle with a pinch of Maldon salt. Serve with a glass of milk, of course!
P.s. While we’re on the subject of cookies, don’t miss my recipe for dark chocolate-dipped macaroons in the first issue of Foodiecrush Magazine (pages 50-51). It’s one of my all-time favorite cookie recipes (see my first batch here). You’ll probably want to read every word on every gorgeous page of Foodiecrush while you’re there. It’s a stunning free online magazine and I’m so happy I could be a part of it!