There is something so entirely comforting about brown sugar. I know that shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the sticky buns and the cupcakes, or the fact that a ‘tag search’ takes you to a handful of other brown sugar-containing sweets and savories. Like waking up in my own bed after a long vacation of hard mattresses and wimpy water pressure, brown sugar is home to me.

Home, and knowing that anything you make with it can’t go wrong, and that it probably has something to do with the simple fact that brown sugar is just sugar with, you guessed it, molasses.

And since I’m currently making my way down the Oregon & California coasts, likely acquiring something similar to the bed sores the old folks at rest homes get, I figured it’s the least I could do to provide a little droolworthy treat and some comfort to you fine folks. And don’t get me wrong – I’ll take the sores, the early morning awakenings, and the creaky springs any day you let me if those days position me directly in front of the Pacific Ocean, its crashing waves, my hair blowing valiantly with the wind, and the sunset view from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ll also be happy to take a meal at The French Laundry, or maybe even a slice of toast from Bouchon.

Though I could possibly eat spoonfuls of brown sugar for breakfast, something tells me you might prefer a few more ingredients in the mix, and to remedy that, cookies seem fitting  – do you agree? These aren’t your average chocolate chip cookie, I can promise you that.

Do ya’ll remember me talking briefly about this lovely little book, inside of which I found some lovely little tarts? At some point, I hinted about some other recipes I’ve tried, and this was one of them. And while it’s nearly impossible to compare these to a rhubarb tart, or a buckwheat pancake, or even a scone, these would certainly rank as my number 1 from the book so far, and all they are are chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies that are quite likely the best ones I’ve ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my 30 years. They are firm enough to provide good structure, but ooey and gooey on the inside so that they practically melt in your mouth with each chew. Darker than your average choco chip cookie, they are loaded with whole wheat flour and dark brown sugar, and what I like is that the flour is more nutritious than standard flour, so after eating 4 or 5 in a row I liken it to jogging a few miles, and I call it a day. While eating them, I find myself making those noises that are reserved for only the best of foods – the constant mmmmmm’s in differing tones and decibels that if made behind closed doors may be mistaken for something other than eating.

Did I mention that they taste divine? Hearty, but not dense and sweet with a very noticeable molasses note from the dark brown sugar, and a piece of chocolate in every single bite. While the raw dough is every thing I’d want in chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, try to resist and bake these things up, because the smell of them baking is intoxicating, and once you realize how lovely they are dunked into a glass of cold milk, you’ll be hard-pressed to save any for anyone, or anything else.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce; makes ~24

printable version

3 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t kosher salt
8 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c dark brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

position two rack in oven in upper and lower third. preheat oven to 350 F. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

whisk all dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. add butter and sugars in bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. cream butter and sugar together until blended. scrape down sides of bowl. add eggs, one at a time mixing with each addition. add vanilla. add flour and blend on low until just combined, about 30 seconds. scrape down sides of bowl.

add chocolate and mix on low until evenly distributed. scrape down sides of bowl. with a small ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto baking sheet, about 6 per sheet. bake for ~18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. let cookies cool on sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooking racks. repeat with remaining dough.

Oatmeal Cookies for the Soul

oatmeal chocolate chip cookie

Yowsa. What a rough couple of days. Being sick makes me so sad, and so bored. The worst part about being sick is when it kicks in right after a trip – you are stuck at home with absolutely nothing that can be eaten in a pinch. You’re out of meds, and you can’t quite imagine stepping foot out of your door for anything. So you suffer and hope that, when you wake up, it’s all over and you’re cured of the sniffles and sore throat. Maybe it’s just a bad dream, right?

Ppshya – so much for that idea. The more I slept, the more my eyes became sealed shut with crusties and the more it hurt to swallow. I’ll stop there, and I won’t talk about the icky mucous. I finally rolled myself outta bed and ….. onto the couch (the first day I was literally sleeping all day). After watching some really horrible daytime tv (when did Rachael Ray get a talk show?! and better yet, why?!), I took another nap and then proceeded to ransack the kitchen. I did find some Progresso chicken noodle soup that I ‘souped up’ with a vine-ripe tomato, some pecorino romano cheese, and a piece of toast. But a few hours later, I was hungry again. Hungry for chocolate.

fresh baked cookies

Now for many of you, I’m sure you could eat chicken noodle soup while sick until the cows come home. Sure, the warm broth going down your throat and the steam on your face are definitely soothing, and the noodles and chicken pieces fill you up for a while. But ultimately (for me at least), that craving for something sweet would. not. go. away. And I’d looked the kitchen and pantry up and down in alley-rat-fashion – there were no sweets to be found. So it was get over it, or get in there and make me some sweets.

cookies for dinner

I’m sure you could figure out, without my telling you, what I decided. I made me some cookies. Some damn tasty cookies. And yes, I washed my hands frequently, and despite the undying temptation, I did not lick my finger every time I put a dollop of dough onto the pan (and if I did, which I didn’t, I would have washed my hands then too).

These cookies are just what the doctor ordered. Made with minimal effort and ingredients I had on hand (otherwise they would not have been made..this week at least), they are probably perfect for anything that ails you. You know what else I liked about them? I had a couple of bananas in the fridge (trying to prevent them from becoming rotten rather than ‘extra ripe’), and you know I hate wasting food – I got to use them here! The bananas add great banana flavor to the cookie, especially if extra ripe, but they also allow you to cut back on the sugar a bit since the bananas are sweet as is.

milk and cookies

Oh, and I did gulp down that glass of milk too (and I think I did eat that many cookies that night – they were my dinner). Contrary to popular belief, milk doesn’t really cause an increase in mucous production. Not that it would have stopped me… but just so you know.

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cooking Light; Makes 2 dozen (but is easily doubled)

Perfect cookies for any occasion – even the sniffles. Play around with substitutions. I even threw a few white chocolate chips in just to empty the bag. Raisins or nuts would also be great, or even other types of chips. But if you’re sick… please… wash those hands!

1/2 c mashed ripe banana (1 medium)
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 t vanilla extract
1 large egg
5.6 oz AP flour (~1 1/4 c)
2 c old fashioned oats
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips
cooking spray (or silpat)

preheat oven to 350 F
combine first 5 ingredients in large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. add egg; beat well.

weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl, stirring with whisk. add flour mixture to banana mixture and beat on medium until well blended. stir in chocolate chips

drop batter by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart onto baking sheet with spray or silpat. Bake at 350 for 16-18 minutes, or until golden (mine were perfect at 16). Cool on pan for 2 minutes and then cool completely on wire racks.

Want more cookies? Click here for sugar cookies, here for homemade Oreos, and here for lime/white chocolate shortbread. Yuuuummmmmm.