Chocolate Chip Cookies are Self Care
Monday, March 15, 2021
There has been altogether too much goodness going around recently. (Bet you didn’t expect to hear that in 2021, did you?)
But last night, when my friend asked me what my perfect “self-care day” would look like, I realized it wouldn’t end in a recipe that cares for my body but rather one that satisfies my soul.
Though that may sound dramatic, comfort food is fulfilling in a way that goes beyond the physical. Like good music, comfort food conveys feelings that exceed the scope of mere words: those earnest, sincere, complex feelings that are somehow beyond the reach of our feeble, grammar-bound vernacular, no matter how expansive the vocabulary.
Even one of the greatest authors of our time knew there was something special about the food. Maya Angelou’s Hallelujah! The Welcome Table — “a lifetime of memories with recipes” — is one of my top ten books, and not just for its eclair recipe.
In one chapter, Angelou relates an experience she had as a child, in which a teacher slapped her for refusing to speak in class. When young Maya returned home, there in the kitchen “stood the most wondrous Caramel Cake looking like paradise, oozing sweetness…Uncle Willie said, ‘This cake can’t pay you for being slapped in the face. Momma made it just to tell you how much we love you and how precious you are.’”
How much we love you and how precious you are. We can say it, but sometimes food says it even better.
Now I know this is a baking blog, but this is getting a little too sweet and sentimental even for me! So without further ado, a cookie that smells like love and tastes like the biggest, warmest, most comforting hug ever. (Think big ol’ bear hug with chocolate chips.) Enjoy!
Whole Wheat Chocolate Oat Cookies (adapted from the ever-beloved Smitten Kitchen)
- ~5 tablespoons (70 g) raw or turbinado sugar*
- Scant 1/2 cup (75 g) brown sugar*
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter melted, browned, and cooled to room temp (once browned, 10 tablespoons of butter comes out to 115 g; you can also just use 1 stick, or 8 tablespoons, unsalted butter at room temp)
- Scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 3/4 cup (95 g) whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup (25 g) walnuts, toasted and very finely chopped (or sub wheat germ, wheat bran, oat bran, or other nuts)
- 1 + 1/2 cups (120 g) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1 cup (6 oz) chocolate chips or chunks (I used a blend of dark and semisweet, based on what I had in the pantry)
- Flaky sea salt, if your heart so desires
*The original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons (50 g) raw sugar and 1/2 cup (95 g) brown sugar. I had 70 g raw sugar, and it seemed silly to save just a couple of tablespoons, so I used it all and reduced the brown sugar accordingly, so the total amount of sugar was still 145 g.
- Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, beat sugars, browned butter, and salt together until fluffy, about 5 minutes.
- Add egg and vanilla, and beat until mixed.
- Sprinkle baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon over batter and beat until very well-combined, then a few more times around the bowl.
- Scrape bowl down, then add flour, chopped walnuts, oats, and chocolate, and mix just until the flour disappears.
- Deb tells us this makes about a dozen cookies, and I trust her with my life — or at the very least, my oven — so I portioned my dough out into roughly 3-tablespoon mounds, as suggested. My total dough weighed ~700 grams, so I ended up with 13 cookie dough scoops, ~50–55 g each.
- You can freeze cookie dough at this ball stage (I like to scoop/roll the dough onto a plate, freeze until solid, then pack snuggly in a freezer bag for long-term storage) to save for later baking, or continue on for warm cookies tonight. I say, why not both?
- To bake, set dough balls about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a couple of flakes of sea salt, if desired. Bake for 12–14 minutes, adding a minute or two if baking from frozen. Cookies will be golden brown all over. Remove from oven and let set on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Ready to taste how a hug feels? Happy snacking!