Friday, June 3, 2011

100% Whole Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Shaved Chocolate

Cookies are delicious. Especially if they have chocolate in them (in fact, its kind of a requirement.) But what makes a cookie especially sweet in my book is when it can pack a little bit of nutrition in there too.

I came across a cookie called "The Ultimate Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie" on Whole Grain Gourmet and knew it was one I had to check out. 
Upon further inspection I noticed the ingredients were very similar to my very favorite "imitation Double Tree" cookies with slight differentiations. 

For example, they both had the same amount of flour, butter, eggs, and sugar but the proportion of how much brown sugar to granulated sugar was different. They also used the same technique of grinding the oats into a fine powder so they better blend with the rest of the ingredients.

Though it was similar, where it differed intrigued me. It didn't have the addition of toffee bits (Would it stay as moist?) It used walnuts instead of pecans (which nut proves best to compliment the cookie?) and it called for the addition of shaved chocolate (Would that make the cookie spread more? How would the flavor profile change?)

With these distinctions, I knew the outcome would be a different overall cookie experience, instead of the same cookie with the exchange of whole wheat flour for all purpose.

I find it helpful to set up all my stations first. I sift all my dry ingredients, I put together the ingredients to be creamed, measure out all of the add-ins, and lay out my eggs and butter so that while I'm doing all of the other stuff, they can get closer to room temperature (but really, I don't worry too much about the eggs being room temp) When I'm all ready, I'll usually put the butter in the microwave on power 1 for half a minute-one minute to get it where I want it to be. It should not be melted, but soft and able to be indented with the touch of your finger.

Step by step photos, for your pleasure: (Or scroll down for the recipe)

You will need white whole wheat flour, oats, dark brown sugar, sugar, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, dark chocolate chips, a dark chocolate bar, walnuts, butter, imitation vanilla, and one egg.
Not sure why I chose imitation vanilla or kosher salt? Reference this post.

The recipe called for a 60% cocoa or better dark chocolate bar, but I just bought cheapo Hershey's special "dark" and called it a day. Don't judge.

Oh and that huge bag of organic sugar? Costco, my friends. Oh, and those walnuts and the butter too. I <3 Costco.

First, grind the oats into a fine powder and then sift with the rest of the dry ingredients-
Then, gather and measure all of the add-ins. I grated about half that bar and toasted the walnuts (a must with any nut for cookies!)
Quick tip: Place walnuts or whatever nut you need to toast (room temperature or straight from the freezer) in your microwave straight on the plate around the outer edges. Microwave for about a minute, move them around (keeping them on the outer edges for even cooking) and then microwave for about a minute or less until they start to sizzle and smell toasty. Watch them to make sure they don't burn! SO much faster to toast them this way than through the oven or in the pan via stove-top. Tastes just as great, too!

Doesn't that grated chocolate look to die for?
Alright, now put the brown sugar, sugar, and butter in a bowl (or if you're fancy, in the bowl of a stand mixer.)
Butter just got a little too melty for my liking, but eh not too bad.
Alright! Time for creaming. The mixture will change in color by becoming much lighter and will be emulsified instead of gritty. 
Just keep mixing on high till you get to around here-
Yes, the beaters look tempting..but focus!
Much better. (:

The creaming took me about 3 to 4 minutes.
Now add in one egg and the vanilla extract.
Perfect. It is now time to add the dry ingredients that were already sifted together. If you have a fancy stand mixer, feel free to add the dry ingredients gradually on slow speed. Unfortunately, my hand mixer has one speed- super fast, so I will be stirring by hand. 

 Most of the oats will be ground so fine they disappear into the dough, but not all of it. That's normal! It adds texture and is a good thing.
Gently stir in the add-ins-
And presto! Delicious cookie dough ready for baking.
But wait! Practice a little self control and refrigerate the dough for 1 to 2 hours. It's not required (and not mentioned in the original recipe), but it will help all those whole grains absorb the moisture and let the flavors develop. 

After a good chill, I placed 9 dough balls (40 grams each, but next time I would do 35 grams each) on a baking sheet.

 Awaiting their fate...muahahaha.
Baked at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.
They won't spread much, but I like that because then the middles can stay a little gooey. You can flatten the balls slightly before baking if you'd like them a little flatter, though.
It's a little hard to tell when they're done, because they don't brown a whole lot. I think I may have over baked mine because they were a bit dry the next day. I would say next time that I would bake them for 10 minutes and then take them out no matter what they look like. These cookies have a lot more structure than others, so you won't have to worry about them collapsing. If they turned out a little under-baked, all the better!

In the end, you are awarded with an incredible cookie. Dense and thick, chocolaty beyond belief, bitter yet sweet at the same time. A true winner.
And to answer my original questions-
Yes, the toffee bits add moisture to the cookie, but aren't vital. This cookie quite simply has a different flavor profile than the double tree ones. 

The walnuts worked very well in this cookie. The bitterness that walnuts can sometimes have was counterbalanced nicely. I would keep using walnuts in this cookie, but pecans in the Double Tree ones.(once again, different flavor profile)

No, the cookies did not spread more because of the addition of the shaved chocolate. In fact, they spread less because they did not have toffee bits (which melt when baking) and included a bit more oats (more structure).

And to my question "How would the flavor profile change?",  that has already been thoroughly discussed.

Would I make these again? Without a doubt. It's also a great base for other additions. Next time, I might try using mini peanut butter cups instead of chocolate chips, and peanuts in place of the walnuts (but keep the shaved chocolate addition).

No one will ever notice that these are made with whole wheat flour and ground oats. There's too many amazing flavors going on! 

Ultimate Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Whole Grain Gourmet
 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
 1/2 cup organic sugar
 1 egg
 1 1/2 teaspoons imitation vanilla
 1 cup (4.5 ounces) white whole wheat flour
 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
 heaping 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
 1 1/4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
 3/4 to 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 60% cocoa
 3/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
 1 (1.5 to 2 oz) dark chocolate bar, grated
 1.     Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
 2.    Place oats in a food processor and process until it turns into a powder. 
 3.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered oats, flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. 
 4.    In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars for 3 minutes on medium speed. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Gradually beat in dry ingredients. Stir in grated chocolate and then add chocolate chips and chopped nuts. 
 5.     Roll or scoop dough into 2-inch sized balls (35 grams each) and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. The cookies will look underdone, do not over bake.
 6.    Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to a cooling rack. 
Makes 25 cookies. The scooped dough freezes well and bakes up as delicious as fresh. Add 1-2 minutes to bake time for frozen dough.

I forgot to do it this time, but it wouldn't be a bad idea to sprinkle a little kosher salt on each cookie ball before baking. It adds to the overall flavor; just don't go over board!

Enjoy! (: 

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