Well Being

Healthy Baking Recipe: Best Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This week's installment of Healthy Baking is another healthy take on an all-American classic: Chocolate Chip Cookies. But I'm going to be straightforward: There's only so much you can do to make chocolate chip cookies healthy before they taste like crap. The problem is, you've been eating these cookies since you were old enough to chew, and you've probably long held your firm opinions about which kind are the best: dense and chewy or large, thick, and crispy; you know what you like. So once you start fiddling with whole grain flours, alternative sugars, vegan butters and egg replacers, it's hard to make a convincingly good chocolate chip cookie.

However, this isn't to say that you can't improve the nutritional facts of chocolate chip cookies without ruining their taste. Kim Boyce's book, Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours, is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources for healthy baking recipes, and it contains an extremely good one for said cookies that doesn't use any white flour. It does use butter, sugar, and chocolate (which aren't healthy, by the way), but by swapping out all-purpose flour for whole wheat, she adds some fiber and, amazingly, doesn't lose out on texture or flavor. In fact, I'd argue that these taste even better thanks to the rich, nutty flavor of whole wheat.

Scroll down for photos and my adaptation of her recipe, with a few of my own changes:

This recipe requires sifting the flour; with whole wheat flour, you'll be left with flakes and grains that are too large to pass through your sifter. Don't throw them away; pour them into your bowl of dry ingredients when you're done sifting.

The recipe calls for dark brown sugar; don't ignore this. A good dark brown sugar is sticky, fragrant, and adds a lot of flavor to your recipe.

I recommend using large chocolate chips like these, or chopping your own chunks of dark chocolate.

Mix in the dry ingredients until they're just combined; not more. They'll get a bit more mixed in as you add the chocolate and walnuts, but over-mixing the ingredients can ruin the texture of your cookies once they're baked.

Space the cookie dough generously on your cookie sheet, as these cookies spread quite a bit in the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain: Baking with Whole-Grain Flours

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 heaping cup of bittersweet chocolate chips (or chopped)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1. Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment (the chocolate can melt and stick to the pan; parchment keeps your pans cleaner and prevents the chocolate from burning on the metal).

2. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring back into the bowl any bits of grain or other ingredients that remain in the sifter.

3. 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 two minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed until each is just combined. Add vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl all at once; blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, stopping once to scrape down edges.

4. Add the chocolate and walnuts to the batter all at once and mix on low speed until the chocolate is evenly combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl; mix for 10 seconds more.

5. Scoop mounds of dough about two to three tablespoons in size onto the baking sheet, leaving three inches between them (about six cookies per sheet).

6. Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Transfer the cookies, still on the parchment, to the counter to cool, and repeat with the remaining dough. These cookies are best eaten warm from the oven or within the same day; you can refrigerate the dough for up to one week and bake them in small batches for fresh cookies, or store cookies in an airtight container for up to three days.