The coziness of a rainy day in December cannot be understated. It gets me thinking about the end of the year, a wintry, windy beach, and the kind of cookies we’ll make for our holiday cookie plates. So far on my list I’ve got almond butter cookies, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, jam thumbprints, maybe slices of gingerbread tucked in among the sparkles (is that allowed?), a loaf of poppyseed cake, and chocolate chip cookies. Specifically whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook.
We used our fireplace for first the time during the week of Thanksgiving — a week which was appropriately stormy, cold and very very wet finally after a long, dry fire season complete with a 4 a.m. evacuation from our little town on an October Sunday. The wood we burned came from a huge oak limb that had crashed down on last spring just around the girls’ bedtime, demolishing part of the fence we share with our neighbor and providing my husband with yet another project to address over the summer. The fence is now repaired, the wood mostly tidied away and the bonus is that we have a decent amount of firewood. Our small half-acre is blessed with large and copious trees (albeit most are in need of trimming).
Cookies (and tea), of course, are a must whilst lounging by a fire on a rainy afternoon. Much like that maple pumpkin pie recipe, this is the “only” chocolate chip cookie recipe I use and I don’t deviate from the original recipe as it is, in my mind, perfection. The cookies are a bit chewy, just the way I like my chocolate chip cookies — no crispness, please! — and dense because you’ll only use whole wheat flour. For whatever reason, when I bake chocolate chip cookies they often turn out either too puffy or too flat, surely a user error on my part, but these turn out reliably … cookie-like every time. I like to make them a bit smaller than the recipe instructs but they are lovely baked large too.
Obviously these don’t last long but they’re so easy to put together you can quickly make another batch when the mood strikes. Dangerously easy and good, really. Also the perfect snack for when you’re making up your own holiday cookie lists — mine no doubt will change before we set to baking but it’s definitely time to be thinking about it. And buying extra butter when it’s on sale. Rain not required.
Kim indicates the recipe is meant to be mixed together and baked immediately although you could also keep the dough in the fridge for about three days before baking it off.
Makes about 24 cookies
8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups whole-wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces or 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Although you can butter the sheets instead, parchment is useful for these cookies because the large chunks of chocolate can stick to the pan.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In another large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer or stand mixer just until the butter and sugars are blended, about 2 minutes. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until each is combined. Mix in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the bowl and blend on low speed until the flour is barely combined, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Add the chocolate all at once to the batter. Mix on low speed until the chocolate is evenly combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and if needed stir and knead the batter to incorporate all of the ingredients.
Scoop mounds of dough — about 1-2 tablespoons in size — onto the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them.
Bake the cookies for 16 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are evenly dark brown. Note: I baked for 10 minutes, then rotated and baked for 8 more minutes.
Place the baking sheet on a rack for a few minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool fully. Repeat with the remaining dough. Cookies are best eaten warm from the oven or later that same day. They’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.