Thoreau said that he always found the voice of nature encouraging.
My boys feel that same way about chocolate chip cookies.
You may recall that while I enjoy the buckwheat chocolate chunk cookie recipe that I got from my friend Eleanor, I am not really a chocolate chip cookie person. The rest of my household, however, feel otherwise. Jacob has even inherited Kyle’s particular way of saying cookie, a Mid-Atlantic verbal caress that makes you think that the word might be spelled with Es and Ws and perhaps a big heart at the end – cew-kie. Heart.
When we went away for our anniversary, to the wonderful place we got married, Kyle and I spent the better part of the time outside. (Well, Kyle might argue that the better part was spent drinking Pliny the Elder. That is neither here nor there.)
Walking through old-growth redwoods, towering and ancient, shot through with a green primeval light, I feel like I am walking through mystery and magic. The smell is so familiar, the air moist and alive, and the carpet of leaves and ferns and moss quiets my steps, my mind.
Old growth forests know a thing or two about strength, and persistence, and getting through. There are trees living here in California that were soaring into blue skies before Columbus ever sailed – think about that for a minute.
I find it very encouraging.
While we were gone, my dad and stepmom stayed here with the boys (thank you, thank you, thank you). We left a big bag of cookies in the freezer, and they were gone when we got back. I left the cookies thinking the boys might have a moment or two when a little treat would be just the thing to get them through missing us.
It turns out that my dad and stepmom might have needed the cookies even more – a weekend that begins with children throwing up all over the restaurant table and continues through a night where no one sleeps more than an hour or two at a time is the sort where one might wish for some extra encouragement. (You guys really are the best.)
We’ve all been needing a little extra encouragement lately. And while I am not a chocolate chip cookie person … Like my boys, I find these ones to be smile-inducing, hunger-satisfying, and always rather encouraging.
Come to the woods, for here is rest. There is no repose like that of the green deep woods … ~ John Muir
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
I adapted this basically famous recipe from Jess at Sweet Amandine, who adapted it from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce
My changes to Jess’s recipe were to add a tiny pinch of cinnamon (it sort of rounds out the nutty goodness of the whole wheat) and to make a smaller batch of smaller cookies (they are, after all, being made primarily for a couple of small people!). Though I cut most ingredients in half, I kept the vanilla at two teaspoons – you may certainly cut it down to 1 teaspoon if you’d like to keep closer to the original proportions.
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes (I use Straus cultured european style butter and put it in the freezer for a few minutes before cutting it)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 oz. semisweet chocolate chunks (I use Scharffen Berger 62% or “the chunks in the yellow bag” if you are Jacob)
Flaky salt for finishing
Line two baking sheets with parchment and clear some space in your fridge for them to sit (they an sit on top of other stuff as long as they will sit relatively flat and have an inch or two of room above them!)
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.
Put the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on low for about two minutes, until just blended. Scrape down the bowl, add the egg, and mix until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and then the chocolate chunks.
Add the flour mixture to the bowl and mix until the flour is just incorporated. You can do a few final stirs with your rubber spatula to get any dry spots mixed in – Boyce and Jess both warn heartily against over mixing.
Scoop the dough in heaped-1-tablespoon mounds onto the baking sheets. It is good for them to have some height. Press a few flakes of salt into each dough ball.
Put your cookie sheets into the fridge. Turn on your oven and heat to 350 F (give it time to really heat up – leaving the dough to sit for at least 20 minutes). Once your oven is heated, move cookie sheets from fridge to oven. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the tops are golden and the edges just barely starting to brown. (You can rotate the pans half way through if you normally do with cookies – I don’t).
This makes about 24 child-sized cookies. We love keeping them in the freezer, but we are weird like that :)