I’ve always had an affinity for whole grains. I use all-purpose flour frequently in baking, but I like the hearty taste of whole-grains, such as whole-wheat flour in croissants and polenta in crisp topping, in spite of regular surveillance by the authenticity police. My argument back is that most things, like croissants and baguettes, were likely made with flour that was closer to whole grain flour than the refined flour that’s used today. So adding whole-grains to pastries may make them taste closer to the original versions, than the ones we make today.
In addition to winning an argument, chocolate chip cookies get a win from the addition from what are now called “alternative” flours, such as buckwheat flour, which is popular in France due to it being an essential ingredient in French traditional dishes like kig ha farz and galettes (buckwheat crêpes). Since I always have a sack on hand, when writing my book, L’appart, I dipped into my bag of farine de sarrasin, also called blé noir, or black flour, to come up with a recipe for buckwheat chocolate cookies that I can’t stop making…and eating.
When I landed in the U.S. to begin my book tour and baked a few batches to hand out, I was intrigued by American buckwheat flour, which some of us who bake on the other side of the Atlantic have been told is different than French buckwheat flour. But I wasn’t the only one baking them up.
The recipe started going viral, as favorite recipes often do, and my friend, Romina Rasmussen from Les Madeleines bakery in Salt Lake City (who gets props in L’appart for helping me rework my Kouign Amann for inclusion in the book, too), and posted them on Instagram.
I’d found that my buckwheat chocolate chip cookies, made in the U.S., were darker than the cookies I made in France. (Although Romina’s looked like a cross between the two.) A little research led to me learn that French buckwheat flour is refined whereas buckwheat flour in North America tends to be whole-grain. Well, most of the time.
Mardi Michaels, who lives in Canada, made them too. When I asked Mardi specifics on the buckwheat flour that she used (and people think I sit around all day, eating chocolate…), she kindly took a photo of the buckwheat flour sold in bulk at her natural foods store in Canada, which was just like the French (refined) buckwheat flour, although she noted that whole-grain buckwheat flour was also sold in bags from Bob’s Red Mill. So the plot – and the cookie dough – thickens.
As you can see, the French buckwheat flour, above, is more powdery, and lighter, than the darker whole-grain American buckwheat flour, below.
These were my buckwheat chocolate chip cookies made with French buckwheat flour…
And here are their American counterparts…
Note the two pictures were taken at different times, and in different light. But the whole-grain beauties are more rugged looking (and tasting) than their French counterparts. Thankfully, it’s just cookies, we’re not solving the world’s problems. But wouldn’t it be nice, if we could do so with desserts?
Rather than give a recipe that calls for every kind of buckwheat flour imaginable, which varies by country, I’m offering up a variation on the recipe in L’appart, if using whole-grain buckwheat flour and want the cookies a bit lighter, although I’ve given the proportions for the original recipe in the headnote to the recipe in case you either, 1) Are using French buckwheat flour, or 2) Like chocolate chip cookies with the assertive taste of buckwheat, and don’t mind the somewhat darker color that the higher amount of whole-grain buckwheat flour gives them.
For the record, I like them both and I’ve made so many batches, that my conclusion is that they are great either way.
Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1/2 cup (90g) packed light brown sugar
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces, 115g) salted or unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup (35g) whole-grain buckwheat flour, (see headnote)
- 1/2 teaspsoon baking powder, preferably aluminum-free
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups (230g) coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
- 3 tablespoons roasted buckwheat groats or cocoa nibs, (optional)
- 3/4 cup (75g) walnuts, almonds, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
- flaky sea salt, such as fleur de sel or Maldon
- In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, buckwheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher or sea salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture.
- Mix in the chopped chocolate (including any small bits of chocolate left on the cutting board), toasted buckwheat groats or cocoa nibs, if using, and nuts. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Use a spring-loaded cookie/ice cream scoop, or your hands, to form 1 1/2-inch (4cm) balls of dough and place them evenly spaced (about 2 1/2-inchs/6cm) apart on the baking sheet. Slightly flatten the tops and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt.
- Bake the cookies until they just feel almost, but not quite, set in the center, and still soft, about 12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and tap the top of each cookie lightly with a spatula, just once, to compact them slightly. Let cool.