Leaving on a Jet Plane + Cookies

For those of you who follow me on twitter, you’ve probably gathered that I’m a huge Kim Boyce fan–I really haven’t been this excited and inspired by a cookbook in a long time. Perhaps ever. I had the opportunity to meet Kim last week at Omnivore Books and hear her take on the different whole grain flours she uses in Good to the Grain and how each affects the flavor and texture of her recipes. If you want a more detailed review of her book, I wrote a short piece for Bay Area Bites last week, so feel free to read more there.

But for now, let’s talk cookies. And let’s talk whole wheat flour. And let’s talk about how I’m flying to China with my dad and my sisters this afternoon and I’m wholly unprepared and kind of o.k. with that. The odd thing about that is  I’m a big planner. Generally when I go on trips, I stock up on guidebooks, start making lists, talk to friends, email acquaintences, mock up a few itineraries. That’s just how I roll. But something seems to have changed. I just don’t care to even think about planning. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I just packed up my entire life and moved it into my mom’s garage for the summer. I can’t find my running shorts or my favorite salad bowl, so that’s thrown me a little. So I guess now’s as good a time as any to throw it out to my lovely readers: If any of you have been to Shanghai and/or Hong Kong and have suggestions, bring it on! I’d love to hear them. Truly. And in the meantime, I’m settling in to my new fly-by-the-seat, carefree mentality with a plateful of whole wheat chocolate chip cookies.

Now Good to the Grain is organized in chapters according to the type of whole grain flour Kim’s using. So while there are certainly more exciting recipes I suppose (Muscovado Sugar Cake, Rhubarb Tarts, Figgy Buckwheat Scones), you can’t go wrong with a solid chocolate chip cookie and I was intrigued with Kim’s use of cold butter, 100% whole wheat flour, and atypical amount of kosher salt. Now while I may be known for hyperbole, I have to say I’m not sure I’ll ever make another chocolate chip cookies recipe again. I’ve fallen in love.  Kim’s recipe yields a chewy, almost nutty cookie with uneven shards of bittersweet chocolate and glints of kosher salt. It’s a sturdy cookie begging for a glass of milk. But it’s also a delightfully decadent cookie, perfect all on its own.

Besides the insanely creative recipes, Kim’s expert tips, and Quentin Bacon’s luscious photos, one thing I love about Kim’s approach is her playfulness. I’m a typical baker in that I like to measure, I’m precise, and I don’t love straying from a recipe the first time around (although I’m getting much better with this one). But Kim encourages adaptation and taking yourself less seriously in the kitchen. A little less  stringent planning, perhaps. Use what you’ve got on hand. I took her advice with these cookies and threw in chopped pecans, and I’m taking her advice all the way to China and winging it just a little. Seeking out a bit of unplanned adventure, using what we’ve got on hand, following our instincts, and seeing what kind of trouble we can muster up. Count on the fact that I’ll fill you in. Until then…

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Yield: 16-18 cookies
  • Prep time: 15 mins
  • Cook time: 20 mins
  • Total time: 35 mins

I added chopped pecans to this recipe although you could certainly add in your favorite nuts, dried fruit, or a bit of coconut if you’d like. They’re best warm from the oven or eaten the same day.

Slightly adapted from: Good to the Grain

Ingredients

Dry Mix:

3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Wet Mix:

8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into a 1/4 and 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that may remain in the sifter.

Add the butter and the sugars to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, mix just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds.

Add the chocolate and pecans all at once and quickly mix on low speed until evenly combined. Use a spatula to scrape down sides and bottom of bowl and turn out onto a clean work surface and use your hands to fully incorporate all ingredients.

Scoop balls of dough about 3 tablespoons in size on the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them. Bake for 16-20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cook and repeat with remaining dough.

Comments

  1. Chez Us

    I just ordered the book and cannot wait to try a few of the recipes. These cookies look amazing. I am a firm believer that everything is better with chocolate as well.

    I love the dark chocolate plate in the photo - a heath?

    Have a GREAT time in China. I cannot wait to hear all about your trip and to see some photos!

  2. Anne

    The best trips are the ones you run into with open arms. Enjoy! And if something goes awry, you'll always have a cookie.

  3. Nicole

    I am totally in love with this book as well. I just made the Rhubarb Tarts last night and they are Supermodels I tell you, they photograph beautifully and the taste...OMG! I also made the Popovers which popped higher than any I have ever made. The Buttermilk pancakes, YUM! Sorry to go on and on, but I love this book!

    Hope you have a great time on your trip. I hope you find that the best ones are the ones you don't plan for. Enjoy the spontaneity of it all.

  4. Lecia

    This is an amazing coincidence Megan - I was literally about to tweet to see if anyone had this very recipe online! I've ordered the book but it hasn't arrived yet. Thank you! And happy travels!

  5. Kasey

    I'm always on the lookout for a good whole-wheat cookie. Yum! Have a fantastic time in China! Sometimes those unplanned trips are the best ones!

  6. Janet

    Oh, I must make these. I've been craving chocolate chip cookies something fierce lately.

    I'm normally a big planner, too, but sometimes I find the best adventures are the ones you couldn't possibly have planned for. Have an amazing trip!

  7. Mary @ Bites and Bliss

    Whole wheat..that means they're healthy, right? It must cancel the butter out or something. ;) These look delicious!

  8. allison [a for aubergine]

    after reading a few of your entries overtime, i am fully inspired to buy the book, "good to the grain." i can't wait to buy it. seriously, i should just buy on amazon right now! those cookies look amaaaazing!

  9. Dana

    Have an awesome time in China! Sometimes it is good to not have a plan!

    Your cookies look so good, I'll need to check out that cookbook.

  10. A Canadian Foodie

    What an informative and inspiring post. I will definitely check out your article (good work) and the book. Flours I am deeply into with my bread making - and I have always loved the wholesomeness that whole wheat brings to my baking. Most people, don't, however. They are from the Wonderbread Culture.
    Have a wonderful time. CHINA! Post post post. I want to read it all, every day!
    :)
    Valerie

  11. Shannalee

    I can't believe I still haven't tried anything from this book! Soon. And these cookies look like a great idea -

    have a wonderful trip!

  12. Maria

    Enjoy your trip. The cookies look wonderful!

  13. El

    How lucky you are to visit China. Please take lots of pictures to post because I'm dying to hear about this trip. Seriously sounds exciting. And I never thought of putting whole wheat into a cookie. Sounds good. Have a safe trip...enjoy!

  14. Nicky

    I just ran into your blog, and it's lovely! I also used to live in Shanghai -- Franck is a truly yummy bistro in the old French Concession. And Di Shui Dong has great Hunan-style food. Don't forget to try xiao long bao (soup-filled dumplings), a Shanghai specialty!

    1. megang

      Thank you so much for the comment and advice, Nicky! We ran across Franck yesterday actually and it looked lovely (but closed at the time). Unfortunately this is our last day in Shanghai (far too short!), but I plan on returning so I'll keep your other recommendation in mind. Thank you!

  15. Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen

    These cookies look amazing. I've tried the Quinoa and Beet Pancakes and the Rhubarb Tarts. Both were incredible. There's too much to try in Good to the Grain, but these are high on my list. Hope you had an awesome time in China!

  16. Andrea

    I also got this book and this was the first recipe I tried from it. I had thought my chocolate chip cookie recipe was unbeatable but she definitely beat it. I have to admit though, I didn't notice the "cold butter" instructions until after I had already softened the butter and they were still delicious. I agree that the salt was key, as was the good quality chocolate. Later, I made these again and froze some of the dough for later and it also worked out wonderfully.

    1. megang

      Ohhh....I'll freeze some of the dough next time. Good call. This will prevent eating too darn many. Thanks for stopping by and for the great tip :)

  17. Lis

    I love this recipe! It's frightening how quickly those cookies disappear once made--and how soon I want to make them again every time. It's been a while, so I think I feel okay about whipping up a batch this afternoon...

    I put a handful of chopped dried cherries in once, and I highly recommend the combo. Great flavor, and nutritious to boot!

    As an out-of-work English teacher myself, I want to say how much I like your blog (just discovered it). Will check in again often. Thanks!

    Lis

    1. megang

      Thanks, Lis! I'm so happy you stopped by! The dried cherries sound like an awesome idea. Hope you're having a great summer, teaching job or no come fall :)

  18. Suzanna

    Very great post. I simply stumbled upon your weblog and
    wished to mention that I've really enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I'll be
    subscribing on your rss feed and I'm hoping you write once more very soon!

Join the Discussion

Summer Desserts

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

Whole Grain Any-Fruit Crisp

On Monday our little family of three is headed to the airport at 6 am to board our first with-baby cross-country trip. We'll be visiting Sam's family in New Jersey for a few days, then renting a car and driving over to meet up with my family at my mom's lake house in the Adirondacks. Sam's younger sister and her kids have yet to meet Oliver; my grandpa has yet to meet him, and Oliver has yet to take a dunk in a lake, see a firefly, or spend quality time with energetic dogs -- of which there will be three. A lot of firsts. This week my family has been madly texting, volunteering to make certain meals or sweets on assigned days while we're at the cabin and it got me thinking about really simple, effortless summer desserts -- in particular, ones that you can make while staying in a house with an unfamiliar kitchen and unfamiliar equipment and still do a pretty bang-up job. I think fruit crisp is just that thing. 

Read More
Blueberry Ripple Yogurt Pops

Blueberry Ripple Yogurt Pops

In a few short weeks, we're headed to New York, Vermont and New Jersey to visit family and see my sister Zoe get married. In starting to think through the trip and do a little planning, I found Oliver the cutest tiny-person dress shoes I've ever seen (and he's quite smitten with them), sussed out childcare options for the night of the wedding, and found what feels like the most expensive (and last) rental car in the state of New Jersey. I try very hard not to be one of Those People that begins lamenting the loss of a season before it's remotely appropriate to do so, but this year, as we'll be gone much of September, I've felt a bit of a 'hurry, make all the summery things!' feeling set in. So we've been managing increasingly busy days punctuated with zucchini noodle salads, gazpacho, corn on the cob and homemade popsicles (preferably eaten shirtless outside followed by a good, solid sprinkler run for one small person in particular. Not naming any names).

Read More
Cherry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake

Cherry and Poppy Seed Yogurt Cake

Somehow, in what seems to have been a blink of an eye, we have a six month old baby. In some ways I can't remember a time we didn't have an Oliver, and in other ways it's all a blur broken up by a few holidays (a Thanksgiving thanks to grocery store takeout, and our very first Christmas in Seattle), a few family visits, a one-day road trip to Portland, a birthday dinner out, a birthday cake, weekend drives to nowhere in particular, swimming at the pool with Oliver, weekly get-togethers with our parent's group, doctor's visits, hundreds of walks around the neighborhood, hundreds of cups of coffee, dozens (or more?) of scoops of ice cream. Most of the worrying about keeping a baby alive has made way for other concerns, and Oliver's need for constant stimulation or soothing walks and car rides has been traded for stretches of time playing with a new toy or checking out his surroundings. In truth, it's thanks to that tiny bit of baby independence that this humble, summery cake came to be in the first place. So we've all got an Oliver to thank for that. Or, really, we have a Yossi Arefi to thank, as it's from her beautiful new cookbook that I've bookmarked heavily and am eager to continue exploring.

Read More
Vegan Chocolate-Almond Sorbet

Vegan Chocolate-Almond Sorbet

I had a weak moment on our honeymoon in Italy when I decided that I should be making gelato for a living. My enthusiasm for Italian gelato wasn't surprising to anyone. I'd done extensive research, made lists, had Sam map out cities in terms of where the best gelaterias were. I took notes and photos and hemmed and hawed over flavor choices: Sicilian Pistachio! Chestnut Honey! Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig! In truth, on that particular trip, I cared far more about treats, sunshine, and cobblestone walks than I cared about famous landmarks or tourist attractions, often leaving the camera back at the hotel in favor of my small black notebook which housed detailed jottings on dessert discoveries in each city we visited. Our friends Matteo and Jessica happened to be in Naples on the one night we were there, and we all went out for pizza together followed by a long stroll around the city. At some point the conversation turned to gelato (as it's bound to) and Matteo brought up the famous school in Bologna where many renowned gelato artisans study. My wheels were spinning. Maybe we should visit Bologna. I should see this school! I should talk to these students! I could make Sicilian Pistachio; Chestnut Honey; and Sweet Cheese, Almond and Fig each and every day of our lives. Or at the very least, travel to Bologna to learn how and then come back to Seattle to take our Northwest city by storm. Well here we are six months later, back to reality, and the impetus to pack up my bags and head for Bologna has subsided for the time being ... but not the unwavering gusto to sample. That part will always be with me. It's been awhile since  I mixed up a batch of ice cream at home, but the other day a beautiful new cookbook landed on my doorstep and I flipped right to a recipe for dark chocolate sorbet with toasty, salty almonds. I didn't need much convincing.  

Read More