whole wheat chocolate chip cookies

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I was never a big fan of roast turkey, so when I was a kid, my favorite part of Thanksgiving was that it was the only time of year my mom bought white sandwich bread, because she liked it better for the stuffing. White bread! What a treat!  It’s been a slow adjustment, spanning close to ten years, but these days, largely due to Peter Reinhart’s trick and Tartine’s country bread, I actually prefer bread with a hearty portion of whole wheat flour. The flavor is deeper, more complex. I’m disappointed when a restaurant serves only pasty white bread.

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Cookies, in my experience, are a different matter. But my experience is only for substituting whole wheat flour in a recipe designed for white flour. Starting with a recipe designed for whole wheat flour is bound to give me better results. The only ingredient called for in this recipe that isn’t in the Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie recipe, besides whole wheat flour of course, is baking powder, substituted for the baking soda in most chocolate chip cookie recipes. Other differences are more flour and sugar for the same amount of butter and eggs in the Tollhouse recipe and less chocolate.

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I was a little worried that the dough, my favorite part about baking chocolate chip cookies, wouldn’t be as tasty as dough made with white flour, but it definitely passed inspection. The cookies themselves were also irresistible. Obviously the whole wheat flour doesn’t make the cookies healthy – that isn’t the point. These cookies are just as loaded with butter and sugar as any other cookie, and the whole grains are just for flavor. For me, though, the flavor was perhaps a little stronger than I might prefer. Plus, the texture was more bread-like than tender. I still loved the cookies, but now I want to find a way to tone down the whole wheatiness and get the texture I want. Should I replace half of the flour in this recipe with white bread flour? Should I start with my favorite regular chocolate chip cookie recipe and substitute whole wheat flour for some of the white? I can’t wait to start experimenting.

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One year ago: Comparison of 3 Chocolate Mousse recipes
Two years ago: Brown Soda Bread
Three years ago: Deli-Style Rye Bread
Four years ago: Chocolate Cream Pie

Printer Friendly Recipe
Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Kim Boyle’s Good to the Grain)

The original recipe is designed to start with cold butter, perhaps so the dough doesn’t get too warm and spread too much in the oven. However, because I have found that an overnight rest is good for both cookie dough and whole wheat doughs, I knew I would be chilling the dough before baking it and started with the softened butter that I’m used to. I also increased the chocolate and used chips instead of chopping my own.

3 cups whole wheat flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1½ teaspoons salt
1 cup (7 ounces) dark brown sugar
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped into ¼- and ½-inch pieces

1. In a small bowl, combine the flour and baking powder. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer, or a spoon or whatever), beat the butter and salt until creamy. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs, one a time, mixing for one minute after each addition. Add the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour miture, mixing just until almost combined. Add the chocolate and pulse the mixer on low speed until the chips are dispersed and the flour is incorporated. Press a sheet of plastic wrap right against the dough; refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

2. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

3. Drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto the lined baking pan, spaced an inch or two apart. Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes, until slightly browned around the edges and just set in the middle. Cool the cookies for at least 2 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a rack to finish cooling. (If they still seem fragile after 2 minutes of cooling, you can just leave them on the sheet to cool completely.)

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  1. It’s like my kitchen mantra: I’m always on the lookout for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. And I’m constantly substituting whole grain flours for AP, so I’m looking forward to trying this version!

    Do you have access to white whole wheat flour? I’m wondering if using WWW for part of the whole wheat here would make it less whole wheatey and more tender … I know you’re in a town with limited choices (I’m a native, small-town New Mexican, so I can empathize), so if I give it a try and hit the jackpot, I’ll let you know.

  2. Ooh, I love the picture of the dough! And whole wheat cookies. I’m all for whole wheat everything, but haven’t tried whole wheat chocolate chip because I’m afraid of there not being a strong flavor (like cocoa powder, spices. etc.) to distract from the “healthy” taste. I guess I need to give it a try!

  3. bridget says:

    Leanne – Orangette made this recipe with white whole wheat flour and loved it that way. I was eager to try it based on her recommendation, but while white whole wheat flour is sold here, I’ve bought it before and didn’t find as much use for it as I was expecting, so I didn’t want to buy a whole bag for this. But now I’m thinking it might be worth it.

  4. Another suggestion would be spelt flour. It’s really good in cakes and cookies…I tend to replace half the white flour in regular recipes with it and get good results.

  5. Amanda says:

    Have you tried using whole wheat pastry flour? I’ve been finding ways to add whole wheat flour to everything, but the brief period last fall when I had container of WWPF was really rewarding.

  6. Try:
    Make oat flour by running oat meal thru a food processor use instead of 1/2 of the flour, cut out baking powder and soda.

  7. bridget says:

    Amanda – I use whole wheat pastry flour all the time! I love it in quick breads. I almost always replace half of the flour in pancake and muffin recipes with whole wheat pastry flour.

  8. Will it make any difference if I use a different kind of flour than whole wheat? Well anyway, thanks for sharing such a really good recipe! I’ll print this out and make this tomorrow. Thanks again!

  9. If anyone can come up with a great whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe, I’m confident it’s you!

  10. I’m kind of addicted to chocolate chip or better yet, chocolate chunk, cookies but I have never actually made them with whole wheat flour, even though I make bread with whole wheat flour all the time. Thank you for this recipe. I will be making these soon!

    PS I have to get Kim Boyce’s book!!

  11. I like to use whole wheat flour in my baking and I have the best chocolate chips ever from Callebeaut. They are my kryptonite for sure.

  12. Use a cup less whole wheat and leave the recipe as is. They will come out crispy and not too puffy and bread-like which I hate in cookies. Work with half cup less and make your way down to 2 cups – I do this one. 3 Cups of whole wheat is TOO much for crispy chip’s ahoy like cookies. Kids love them like that! If so, do half white whole wheat or all white whole wheat but no point of substituting it for A.P flour.

  13. Melissa McCoy says:

    Made these last night and they were delicious. I didn’t have time to wait for the dough to chill and they still turned out great. So if you are thinking of skipping this recipe because you don’t have time to wait for it to chill, go ahead and make ’em anyway. Giving them a try using coconut oil instead of butter tonight. Think it’s gonna be great that way too.

  14. Kimberly Markert says:

    confused about recipe listing baking soda and baking powder but directions do not include both, Ive already included so we’ll see what happens.