It’s amazing how all of a sudden it feels like summer! I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri where hot is really hot — as in the temperature gets into the high 90s and the humidity is close to 90% without it raining. I remember going from my air-conditioned house to my air-conditioned car to my air-conditioned office and then back again. I had to put a towel on the car seat to prevent getting burns on my legs if my car had been parked in the sun. Now that’s hot. So when folks complain about the heat here, I take it with a grain of salt. This is glorious! Be grateful really. Yes, grateful.
For the past week, my husband and I have been on “staycation.” We both work from home anyway, but since we are opting not to travel right now we took day trips that mostly included time spent in the woods. One day we did a 14-mile hike in Mount Rainier National Park; another day we drove along Chuckanut Drive and enjoyed the beach at Larrabee State Park and ice cream at Mallard’s in Bellingham; and in our infinite wisdom on the hottest day of the year so far (July 27, which would have been my mother’s 90th birthday!), we hiked to Snow Lake. The plus side of the heat that day is that swimming in the lake surrounded by snow touching its shores was heaven!
Since most of our day trips were high energy, I decided to make a hearty version of chocolate chip cookies that would hold up in our day packs and provide an extra bit of “oomph” for hiking. One of the best things about this recipe is that you can freeze the dough. I scoop the raw cookie dough into individual cookie portions onto a cookie sheet. Throw it in the freezer and once frozen, put the frozen cookies in a ziplock. Then anytime I want two, four, six, eight or 10 or more cookies, I have them on hand. I bake them directly from the freezer. The sea salt on top is an option if you enjoy the sweet/salty contrast. You can always do half the batch with and the other half without salt.
Now find your walking shoes and enjoy the sunshine. Come back an enjoy a well-deserved staycation cookie! Be safe. Eat well. Enjoy.
Buckwheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons 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 all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole-grain buckwheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (or semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips)
3 tablespoons cocoa nibs (optional)
3/4 cup walnuts, almonds, or pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
flaky sea salt (optional)
1. In a large bowl, mix together the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and melted butter. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.
2. 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.
3. Mix in the chopped chocolate (including any small bits of chocolate left on the cutting board), cocoa nibs, if using, and nuts. Cover the bowl and chill overnight. (NOTE: If you can’t wait for the dough to chill, you can bake these right away and they will still taste delicious.)
4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. 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 balls of dough and place them evenly spaced (about 2 1/2-inches) apart on the baking sheet. Slightly flatten the tops and sprinkle lightly with flaky sea salt (this is an optional step).
5. Bake the cookies until they just feel almost, but not quite, set in the center, and still soft, about 10-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets in the oven midway through baking. Remove the cookies from the oven and let cool (if you can wait!). (NOTE: I like my cookies slightly underdone so I tend to take them out on the early side.)
Storage: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days. The dough can be frozen for up to two months.
— By Deborah Binder
Deborah Binder lives in Edmonds with her family. She is “dancing with N.E.D.” (no evidence of disease) after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2009. She is a foodie who loves to cook from scratch and share her experiments with her family and friends. She attended culinary school on the East Coast and freelances around town for local chefs. Her current interest in food is learning to eat for health and wellness, while at the same time enjoying the pleasures of the table. As Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation including butter.” Deborah can be contacted at email@example.com.