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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Experimenting with Whole Wheat

So...  I've been trying really hard to cut down on all the white flour I've been eating.  I've been cutting back on the sugar too.  Don't I sound like a whole lot of fun?  As you can imagine, for someone like me, this does not make for very exciting eating, (or, for that matter, someone to hang out with).  I'm a baker and baking usually includes flour and sugar.  Need I say more?

But surprisingly enough, I've been pretty successful at my little experiment.  What started out as a two week challenge to myself, has now lasted about three or four months; long enough that I've lost count.  Believe me, no one is more surprised than  moi.

For the most part, the flour (and it's really just bread that I've eliminated), has been pretty easy.  The only bread I've eaten is bread that's worth it.  And by worth it, I don't mean the couple of pieces of uninspired toast that comes with my eggs, or the bread basket at most restaurants.  For me to have bread, it has to be really good bread.  As a result, I've only had bread a couple of times.  I'll tell you, it's amazing how little of the bread in breadbaskets near and far is really worth eating.

The sugar  thing has been a little tougher.  To say I was addicted to sugar would be an overstatement, but let's just say that I enjoyed my desserts.  I still enjoy dessert, just far less often.  And, when I do indulge, I've been trying to make it a little healthier than what I was eating pre-experiment.

I recently came across this recipe for dark chocolate chip cookies made with whole wheat flour.  I have to admit that I was a little dubious, but in the interest of science (or my sweet tooth -- you choose), I decided to give the recipe a try.

The results were... surprisingly delicious.  The whole wheat flour gave the cookies a really nice texture and the dark chocolate was a nice counterbalance to the more rustic texture of the flour.  In fact, these cookies were decidedly more adult and sophisticated than you average Toll House cookie.

Who knew?  I certainly never would have pegged that one.

While these cookies clearly aren't sugar-free, they're a step in the right direction.  And a nice little treat on those days when my experiment starts to feel a little, shall we say,  less experimental, and  a little more sugar-free.

Recipe:  Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce)

*Note:  I used Valrhona 72% cacao (bittersweet) chocolate.

8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into 1/4- and 1/2-inch pieces


Place two racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°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. 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, then scrape the batter out onto a work surface, and use your hands to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Scoop mounds of dough about 3 tablespoons in size onto the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them, or about 6 to a sheet.

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 later that same day. They’ll keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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