Spelt chocolate chip cookies (with walnuts and sea salt)

Doing that last brownie taste test had me thinking about chocolate chip cookies.  Now there's another classic we've all tasted innumerable variations of.  I'm sure you've made, eaten, and enjoyed more than a few versions.  Like brownies, it's hard to pick a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.
These cookies are made with whole grain spelt flour, with dark chocolate chunks, toasted walnuts, and sea salt
Maybe it's a good thing we can't - and don't have to - pick favorites.  We crave different things at different times and our own taste preferences can change over time, too.  So while I'm not prepared to name a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, I can tell you what I really like.  

It might be a little surprising that one of my very favorite chocolate chip cookies is actually a whole wheat one.  It's a recipe from Kim Boyce's Good to the Grain that I learned about via Orangette. Maybe it's my history and appreciation for digestive biscuits but I was first drawn to it by that comparison.  I was also attracted to the all-whole wheat flour recipe; there's no all-purpose flour involved.  Could it really be good?  Long story short - it's been a favorite of ours since I first tried it and it makes frequent appearances in our cookie jar.

So I thought I'd take that whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe for a spin.  Instead of white whole wheat flour, which is what I typically use (because it imparts just enough texture without being too heavy/overwhelming but provides all the same benefits as regular whole wheat), I substituted with spelt flour.  
Valhrona 64% Manjari feves, and toasted walnuts for half my batch of cookies
Spelt flour is often touted for its mild and slightly sweet flavor.  It's known to be a lighter, maybe "more-agreeable" option as far as using whole grain when baking.  Using it here in these cookies showcased to me the difference between spelt and the white whole wheat flour that I normally use. I'd say that, in comparison, these spelt flour cookies turned out a chocolate chip cookie a bit closer to the typical ones made with all-purpose flour.  That is, it's a bit less grainy, a little milder, a teeny bit lighter than the ones I normally make with white whole wheat.  In other words, I can agree with what the whole grain experts have been telling us.

I would eat these cookies any day and I really savored this batch, as I plan to do any and all future batches!  That said, my husband and I both feel that we actually prefer using white whole wheat flour if we're going to be picky about it.  We love that slightly more grainy, digestive biscuit-like texture to them.  That might not be everyone's cup of tea so if you prefer something a bit lighter, try this spelt version.

I wanted to use really good chocolate for these cookies (I was inspired after eating a delicious one made with TCHO chocolate at Flour Bakery in Boston recently).  I used Valhrona 64% dark chocolate feves, coarsely chopped for big chunky effect.  I was in the mood for some nuts so I added toasted walnuts to half my batch (the little one prefers his without nuts) and then I topped the cookies with a sprinkle of sea salt.

I topped the cookies with sea salt before baking...just don't be too heavy-handed if you have an opinionated 8-year old, with a sensitive palate, in your house!
My son ate these, telling me "mmm...they are so good with that salt".  Then, true to form, the (brutally) honest little man immediately went on to say..."maybe you should use just a little less salt next time."  Apparently, I had been a tad heavy-handed with the fleur de sel.

These chocolate chip cookies, whether you use spelt flour or white whole wheat flour, are really delicious.  They are a sturdy cookie (great to pack for a picnic) - crisp at the edges, moist in the center, with a somewhat grainy texture and earthy flavor to it.  They keep really well, stored in an airtight container, for a few days and is one of the few chocolate chip cookies I actually prefer eating at room temperature rather than warm, straight from the oven.  It's low-maintenance.   

Tasting chocolate chip cookies sure is fun!  Please share if you have a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or two!  For a more traditional, soft and melty, kind of chocolate chip cookie, I love David Lebovitz's recipe.


Interestingly, the original recipe from which these cookies are based actually starts with cold butter, cubed up before mixing.  I've done it both ways with cold as well as room temperature butter (since I take butter out of the fridge almost by reflex if I'm planning to make chocolate chip cookies) and I actually find that I prefer using room temperature butter here.  That said, you could start with cold butter, which is convenient for spur-of-the-moment baking.

We use 4 ounces of dark chocolate for roughly 2 dozen of these cookies.  You could use more but I like it as is because I really enjoy the texture and flavor of the cookie base itself.  Since I felt like adding some nuts to complement the nutty undertones of these cookies, I went ahead and prepped some walnuts.  It's good with or without it. 
Since my son is a purist, I divided my cookie dough so I made some without nuts as well.  I love how dark these cookies are, with the spelt flour and dark brown sugar in them.  
With walnuts (on the left) and without
You don't have to but I usually make the cookie dough ahead of time since I've taken to the habit of refrigerating it overnight to develop the color and flavor of the chocolate chip cookies.  I like to press down gently on these particular cookies so they spread a bit more.  And lastly, some fleur de sel on top for fun and a pop of flavor right before they go into the oven.
The final result is some really good chocolate chip cookies.  I hope you try it for yourself and see what I'm talking about.


Recipe:

Spelt Chocolate Chip Cookies (with walnuts and sea salt)
An adaptation of the whole wheat chocolate chip cookie recipe from Good to the Grain

- Approximately 2 dozen cookies -

1 1/2 cups spelt flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces 
3/4 cup walnuts (or other nut), toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling

Into a bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Place butter and sugars into the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on low speed until the sugars are incorporated into the butter, about 2 minutes.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.  Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until the flour mixture is just absorbed.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl again to make sure all the flour is evenly incorporated.  Add chocolate and walnuts (if using), and mix until just combined.  Cover cookie dough and refrigerate overnight, if possible.

Remove cookie dough from the refrigerator.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking mats.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees with the racks positioned at the upper and lower thirds of the oven.

Scoop the dough using a small ice cream scoop.  I pack my scoops rather generously.  Place the cookie dough onto the parchment lined baking sheets, spacing them about 3 inches apart.  Lightly press down on each cookie round.  Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a few flakes of sea salt.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.  Keep in mind the baking time varies slightly depending on the size of the cookies but they are done when they are evenly browned.  Let cookies cool in the pan for a few minutes and then remove onto cooling racks.

These cookies keep well for several days in an airtight container at room temperature.



52 comments:

  1. I love these chocolate cookies made with my favourite grain! They look awesome, Monica.

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    1. Happy to hear that, Angie. I love these - made with whole wheat flour or spelt flour. The texture is just tasty. Have a great Sunday!

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  2. Those look amazing! Love that they are made with a healthier flour, that means they're good enough for breakfast right? :)

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    1. You could certainly have them for breakfast...I never judge...

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  3. These look great, Monica. I love that salty top! But I know what you mean - I gave my class some salted chocolate chip cookies and they loved them, but then when I told them it was salt on top that they were tasting, they were totally weirded out. Go figure, haha!

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    1. haha - I totally get that! My son usually gives me a compliment but then yanks it back part way with some other honest observation! :)

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  4. Hi Monica, chocolate chip cookies are my favorite, will have to try them with spelt flour, love the salty and sweet flavors.

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    1. These, Cheri. I do adore choc chip cookies with whole grain flours.

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  5. Great spin, great cookies! Yum, yum, yum!

    ela h.
    Gray Apron

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  6. Yummmmm!!!!! These cookies are calling my name! I love that you've used spelt flour for making these beauties and that little sprinkle of salt is just what it needs to elevate all that lovely chocolaty goodness!

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    1. Thanks, Samina. We can all use more choc chip cookies, right?

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  7. Boy these look good. I've always wondered about the spelt flour in baking - thanks for the great info! I don't think I've ever met a chocolate chip cookie I didn't love - except maybe store bought. The chocolate sounds so interesting - I've never seen it before. I'll look into this! Have a great week Monica - thanks!

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    1. To me, spelt is like whole wheat flour (or white whole wheat, which is what I buy and use) but less grainy. Does that make sense? : ) These chocolate feves/discs are great for cookies but they're expensive so I would save them for a good cookie project. You can get them from Whole Foods.

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  8. I love these chocolate chip cookies - they look fantastic Monica! I haven't tried baking with spelt flour before so love that you had such great results using it. I am such a sucker for cookies with sea salt - hehe, your son is adorable - I think that's awesome that he knows exactly what he likes :)

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    1. We really enjoyed them, Kelly, thanks! A little extra pop of salt never hurt anyone, right? The little one is rather opinionated...not sure where he gets that from! ; )

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  9. I too prefer a whole wheat chocolate chip cookie. It seems to add a bit more depth to the flavour instead of just sweet, sugary cookie. I love the look of these. I've been meaning to try out the spelt I bought with cookies, it's good to,know it works well.

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    1. Yes, I bet you love digestive biscuits like I do, Nazneen. : ) I think you'll like the spelt flour - not all that different vs. white whole wheat but I could tell the slight difference in these cookies.

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  10. I've seen so many spelt recipes lately I should really try some!

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    1. It was the same for me so I had to finally try. Made muffins first, now these cookies. Works for me!

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  11. Oh wow!
    I would love to bite into one of these. I have never tried baking with spelt. Also I am yet to use Valrhona chocolate. Been wanting to for so long! Just going to buy them one of these days. Better quality better results!

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    1. I hear you - so many things to try. Can't even think about it sometimes.

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  12. Love the salt on top - and I haven't baked with spelt before - these look so good - better than some of the whole wheat ones I have made!

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    1. I love these cookies with white whole wheat flour but the spelt makes them closer to "regular" cookies. So good. Thank, Shashi!

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  13. I keep meaning to buy some spelt flour - I've never used it! These look fantastic - especially with that salt! And I agree with you - I love using white whole wheat flour in my baking!

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    1. So many things I've never used. I had the spelt flour so I naturally thought to sub them in for the usual whole wheat cookies we love. White whole wheat is awesome; I also use and really like whole wheat pastry flour.

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  14. Your cookies sound and look amazing! I'm craving for some now. So nice to see that you use my favorite Valhrona chocolate! ;)

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    1. Yes..I never heard anyone complain about Valhrona. ;)

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  15. Ooh, look at these! Perfection. I've never baked with spelt flour before but I think I may check it out now! Love the sea salt sprinkle on top - it complements the sweetness so well!

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    1. Thanks, Alyssa! Whole grain flours seem to work well with choc chip cookies. : )

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  16. These cookies look just perfect! Chocolate digestive biscuits are sooo good! They are my favorite snack to eat when I was in HK. We are totally on the same page! This is my first time hearing about spelt flour. It sounds like it really goes well with the cookies. I think I need to check it out.
    About chocolate chip cookie recipe, I have one that I always come back to. Thick, chewy and super easy. http://themissinglokness.com/2010/10/19/easy-chocolate-chip-cookies/

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    1. Oh, we are so on the same page! Do you also like those plain wafer cookies with the lemon cream filling? So much good stuff and I'm so glad you can relate. : )
      Thank you for sharing that choc chip cookie recipe; I have to check it out!!

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  17. These look amazing!! I totally want to try them!!

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    1. Wish our blogs came with a taste-test option. : ) Thank you, Dorothy.

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  18. I love baking with spelt flour. These cookies look super delicious!

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    1. Thanks so much. I'm glad I finally tried spelt recently.

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  19. Nice cookies Monica...I like mine with walnuts...and the sea salt sure adds a nice kick to these chocolate chips cookies...yum!
    Enjoy the rest of your week :D

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    1. Hi Juliana - thank you! These are not overly sweet and it's just earthy and tasty. : )

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  20. Haha, don't you just love how honest kids can be? I need to try using spelt flour. I do like spelt tortillas and love that they do have a lighter flavor than whole wheat. These cookies look great. I've never added salt, but maybe I should give it a try (lightly sprinkled, of course):D

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    1. Oh yes, mine is a real critic, boy! : ) Thanks, Cindy...I have never had spelt tortillas! That would have been a great way to try spelt out first, too.

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  21. I've meaning to bake with spelt flour for a while but I wasn't sure how the baked goods would turn out. I love this recipe (chocolate and nuts...yum!) and I'm going to try this for sure. More such tests please:-)

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    1. Thanks so much! So glad you like it. I've come around to loving so many whole grains a lot.

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  22. Hahahah, your son is too cute ;) At least he's honest! I've never tried using spelt flour, but at your recommendation I FINALLY bought a bag of white whole wheat flour last week! I can't wait to put it to use in something.

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    1. Oh yeah - white whole wheat flour! You can use it (instead of the spelt) for these very cookies! I know you're not big on whole wheat pasta so maybe start light - like use 1/3 white whole wheat to 2/3 all purpose flour to try. I love the slightly gritty texture but you might not...but white whole wheat is a lot softer. Have fun. And yes, my son is rather brutally honest. Look what you have to look forward to. ; )

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  23. Ahh looks sooo good! I haven't had satisfying chocolate chip cookies for a while. I hear about spelt a lot (especially on food blogs) but it's still new in my kitchen and I haven't experimented with. I love the use of this for family's favorite cookies! Enjoy coming here and learn new things, especially baking which I need lots and lots of experience and knowledge. :)

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    1. I think you would like a less-sweet whole grain choc chip cookie like this, Nami. : ) You are so kind - I'm just learning and experimenting with whatever catches my eye as I go...there's so much to learn all the time! It's so nice how everyone is so sweet and supportive. Thank you!

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  24. Monica, these look perfect! I like the whole wheat spelt, chocolate chunks (I might have to get some of those) and the salt. I am going to try them. My 'go to' chocolate chip cookie recipe is from The Silver Palate Cookbook. I really should try some different as well. Have a good week :-)

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    1. Love hearing what your 'go to' choc chip cookie recipe is! I've heard of the cookbook - must check it out! Thanks, Jo!

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  25. i'm so curious about these! and about Good to the Grain: i've had several people recommend that to me, and i haven't gotten around to looking through it yet (partly due to the fact that my library doesn't have it to rent.) It's great to try out other types of chocolate chip cookies just to see, and it's nice to have multiple "favorites" - our family does; we like an option. :)

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    1. I haven't been very adventurous with the book in general. I really was drawn to this recipe for the all whole wheat aspect. It is wonderful and truly one of our very favorites.

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  26. Ooh I like the sound of chocolate chip cookies using whole wheat flour or spelt flour. I might be more of a spelt flour fan, from your comparison of the two cookies, but I'm sure both taste amazing! I especially love the chunks of half-melted chocolate and of course the fleur de sel topping (: Really takes it up a notch. I'm sure the nuts also enhance the taste and texture! Oh my gosh, and low-maintenance too? You're really selling these cookies to me, Monica. Hmm, it's so hard to decide what my personal favorite cookie is...One of the problems I think is that I haven't tried enough different cookie recipes to really be able to decide, but I have to say I do like Nora's soft & chewy chocolate chip cookies very much (via Buttercream Fanatic). Great post as always! (:

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    1. Thank you so much, Monica! I love the whole wheat cookies, and now these spelt ones too. Thanks for that recipe suggestion. Aren't we lucky there are so many awesome recipes to try. It can never end. Thanks again for your kind words, as always!

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