Simon Hopkinson's Creamed Tomatoes on Toast
Amy Scattergood's Cranberry Bean, Lacinato Kale and Pasta Soup

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Buckwheat Groats


Fine, you got me. I skipped a day, yesterday to be exact. I'm sorry. It's just that Sunday was such a nice day, so pretty outside and so full of other things to do besides cook and write, like walking in the Gardens and talking about our wedding and sitting around being indolent. Oh, and eating chocolate chip cookies with buckwheat groats. Of course. What were you doing?

Now I know that some of you pricked up your ears at chocolate chips, some others at cookies and then the rest at buckwheat groats. Otherwise known as kasha. What? In cookies? I know.

It's like this: a few months ago, in July, to be exact, we took a day trip to Fire Island with some friends. While waiting for one of the trains (we took two trains, a minibus and a ferry to get there) just before lunchtime, my friend Sara pulled out a Ziploc bag filled with cookies and offered me one. I don't usually eat dessert before lunch, but it was one of the those summer days where rules like that don't matter, where you happily drink beer at two in the afternoon and eat cookies before lunch and spend the day dreaming about moving to a beach community.

Anyway, the cookie. This was no ordinary chocolate-chip cookie. It had serious crunch to it, but also good chew, and then there was the taste: mysteriously minerally and roasty-toasty, in addition to the more familiar flavors of caramel and butter and bittersweet chocolate. "What's in this thing?", I wondered. Sara promised me the recipe. She got it from a friend, who got it from another friend, who got it from, well, I don't know.

It turns out that the cookie is made with whole-wheat pastry flour (though it's pretty resilient: this latest batch I made half with regular whole-wheat flour and half with white pastry flour) and buckwheat groats - which give the cookies that gorgeous crunch (the groats retain their integrity throughout the baking process). Don't mistake the groats and the whole-wheat necessarily for virtue: there's still a stick of butter in the recipe and a whole cup of sugar. But you can count on a bit more fiber and some blood-sugar regulation, apparently.

But all of that mumbo-jumbo aside, the real point is that these cookies taste delicious. I absolutely adore them. When they first come out of the oven, their centers are soft, with little crystals of crunch, and their edges are caramelized and the chocolate is oozy in the center. With a glass of milk, you're all set for nirvana. The next day, the cookies are a little harder perhaps, but no less brilliant. They keep well and make for excellent afternoon snacks.

Shall I go ahead and do it? It's been a while. Okay, here goes. They're lamination-worthy! Yes, indeed.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Buckwheat Groats
Makes 20

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buckwheat groats (kasha)
6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped into chip-sized chunks

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a mixer or bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and two extracts until well-combined.

3. In a small bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, salt and buckwheat, and add to the butter mixture, beating to incorporate. When combined, add the chocolate and stir to combine.

4. Drop 2 tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto ungreased cookie sheets, 3 inches apart. Bake for 6 minutes, then reverse the sheet pan in the oven and bake for an additional 6 minutes. The cookies should be still slightly pale in the center and golden brown on the edges.

5. Cool the cookie sheet on a rack for 5 minutes, then transfer to the rack directly with a spatula.