Whole wheat cookies... with vinegar??
I usually buy whole wheat pastry flour and my usual brand was not available, so I grabbed
King Arthur's sort of new "white wheat". So ... I'm putting groceries away at home and notice on the back of the back a chocolate chip cookie recipe.... with a tablespoon of cider vinegar in the recipe. I have made King Arthur Recipes before..and find them to be good. At 10 p.m. I couldn't stand the unknown ... I had to try the experiment... thinking okay..another whole wheat flop of a cookie. NOT !!!!!!!!
Excellent cookies.. beautiful texture.. crunchy exterior. Great crumb crunch. Chewey on the inside and oh, I had no chocolate chips, so I dug into the pending Halloween candy and used M&Ms. The real test for me is when the cookies cool and get wrapped up (put away) in a container, they never seem the same (i.e. texture wise). So now its the next morning, I make my coffee and shook with excitement as I unwrapped the cookies. I just had 4 with my coffee. (ouch).
Okay, so my post here is for the all important question... Why Vinegar. I know about vinegar in cakes... but what would it do for a cookie?
These weren't perfect Toll House types, but without doubt the best whole wheat choco-chip cookie I've come across in 10 years.
I used distilled white vinegar to make the dairy-free chocolate cake from my 75th anniversary Joy of Cooking a few days ago for the same reason - I wanted to know if it would be any good. It turned out to be fabulous - quite airy and it stayed moist for days, better than any vegan cake that I've ever had (and better than some non-vegan ones). I did a bit of reading about it (I'm not a very scientific baker, more of the combine ingredients and work by feel and watch the magic happen type), and the best I can discern is that combining baking soda with vinegar (an acid) releases oxygen, which makes things like cakes happy and fluffy. I'm not exactly sure what that would do for cookies, but I'd imagine it might be something similar.
Was there baking soda in the cookie recipe?
In a cake, quick bread, muffin, or biscuit, baking soda plus some acid is a coming raising mixture. Baking powder is just baking soda and some powdered acid. In all these cases, the mixture produced carbon dioxide.
Vinegar is a relatively strong but neutral tasting acid, hence the use of tablespoon or so. Buttermilk is a commonly used acid, but not as strong. Yogurt would work also. Molasses is mildly acid. Fruit purees (such as pumpkin) are also acid. I've used a pumpkin bread recipe that calls for baking soda, and no added acid beyond the pumpkin and molasses.
I see someone beat to the punch on the recipe... the link posted by - Paulj - is the recipe. In Googling around, I came across a mess of old-fashioned recipes for sugar cookies with vinegar... and some vinegar cookie recipes (basically sugar cookies). It appears 50 - 100 years ago, this was a common thing. Could it be then that the vinegar kept the cookie moist and chewey??? I wouldn't leave it out of the recipe because I feel it has more of a impact on the cookie besides leavening. Any recipe I used vinegar or buttermilk in has been more for moistness. It certainly was interesting to ponder this ponderable. PS: My cookies are gone !!
In the K.A. Whole Grain Baking Cookbook it says "to temper the sometimes 'tannic' flavor of whole wheat in plain cookies where it's more likely to stand out, add 2 tablespoons orange juice per cup of flour. If recipe call for liquid (milk or water), simply substitute the orange juice for some of the liquid. If recipe doesn't call for liquid adding juice may change the cookie's structure a bit, making it flatter and/or hard..."
Under pancake recipes it says "..the acidity and sweetness of orange juice helps mellow the tannic tast some people perceive in whole wheat flour. While the pancakes will not have any orange flavor, they may taste slightly midler to you than without it..."
It doesn't explain (from what I read) the vinegar but I assume it may be for a similar reason since they are both acid.
Hey, Buddernut - Since I'm the person who wrote that recipe, I'll tell you what my thoughts on the vinegar were. I was doing the cookies, and they were just too darned sweet. Yet I felt I needed that amount of sugar for both the flavor and the texture. Then I thought, hey, if I add some vinegar, not only will it cut that sweetness just a tad, it SHOULD also make them a bit crunchier because it'll react with the leavening and just raise them a tiny, tiny bit more - yielding crunch rather than hard/crisp. That was my theory, anyway. And it seemed to work. As for the OJ in whole wheat, it came from something I read in one of our baking trade magazines - that one of the chemical compounds in oranges reacts with one of the tannic compounds in WW flour, neutralizing it. And that seemed to work, too. So there you have it - news from the King Arthur test kitchen (although it's news from about 18 months ago in the King Arthur test kitchen, as I recall...) My present "gotta have" is homemade Moon Pies. I've got the cookie; I've got the coating; but the marshmallow, which SHOULD be the easiest part, is eluding me at the moment. I don't want to do homemade marshmallow (too labor intensive); Marshmallow Fluff, for some reason, softened and leaked (though I have perhaps a cure for that). I'm about to try regular ol' Campfire marshmallows sandwiched inside just-bakied cookies so they melt and adhere... news at 11! Anyone have any other thoughts? - PJH