Here’s one more Independence Day-inspired post, though only the icing is red, white and blue. The cookies themselves neither need icing nor have anything to do with the holiday. In fact, though they are entirely dissimilar from gingerbread cookies in terms of their ingredients, they have a taste and texture similar to gingerbread that would make them excellent in the winter, too.
The recipe is one that I based on a Maida Heatter recipe for Whole Wheat Honey Wafers, which she describes as “old fashioned and plain.” While these do taste a bit old-fashioned, they are far from plain and quite different from the original recipe.
I used white whole wheat flour to make these (King Arthur brand), but you could use a combination of whole wheat and all purpose as a substitute. The wheat flavor was not really evident, but the thing that struck me about the cookies is that they had an interesting depth of flavor. Right out of the oven, they had a little bit of a mexican chocolate thing going on, with cocoa and cinnamon standing out. After sitting overnight, the cookies softened up and the similarities to gingerbread (a soft, spicy cookie) were more apparent.
Of course, these aren’t gingerbread, so don’t be put off by that comparison if you’re not a fan. The important things to know about these cookies are (1) the dough is sticky and should be frozen before you work with it, (2) they a nice and soft once they sit overnight, but slightly crisp on the first day and (3) they are not too sweet and have just the right amount of spice to appeal to both spice-lovers and non-spice-lovers.
And they’re just as good without the icing, which is simply a mix of powdered sugar, vanilla, milk and food coloring that I drizzled over for color.
Chocolate Whole Wheat Honey Cookies
1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or half all purpose and half whole wheat)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2 tsp instant coffee (or 1 tsp coffee extract)
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.
In a large bowl, cream together butter, coffee powder and brown sugar. When light, beat in honey, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour mixture and stop when just combined. Divide dough into two or three discs, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and freeze for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Work with one dough disc at a time on a lightly floured surface. Roll out (flouring rolling pin or using wax paper to prevent sticking) the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick. Use a 2 1/2 inch star cookie cutter (or other shape) and punch out as many starts as possible. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. The cookies will puff up during baking, so make sure to leave at least 1-inch between them on the pan. Reroll dough one or two times and repeat.
Bake cookies at 375F for 8-12 minutes (depending on the exact size of your cookie cutter). The cookies are done when the edges just start to brown and are slightly firm, or the tips of the stars darken slightly.
Allow to cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then cool completely on wire rack. Ice when cooled, if desired. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.