Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Buckwheat Butter Cookies

I went for a short walk just when the snow started coming down this morning, all bundled up with a raincoat over my jacket and mittens over my gloves. One careful step after another to start and little heel-toe wiggles here and there to make sure that the sidewalk is not slippery. It wasn’t yet, so I walked on and smiled as the soft snowflakes fluttered about and tickled my face. For a brief moment, I was reminded of the very first time I got to examine snowflakes. There I was, on a sidewalk, staring at the snowflakes that stuck to my coat with intent and admiring their intricate formations before they dissolved into thin air. Snowflakes are quite mesmerizing… their presence is seemingly fleeting until they decide to gang up on you and cover everything with layers of white. The walk only lasted for a short while because my face was getting wet and the sidewalk was starting to feel slick under my boots.  

Now I’m safely back in the house, dry and cozy, watching the snow fall relentlessly, while nibbling on my third cookie and sipping lukewarm tea. I have also just decided that snowflakes are one of the most beautiful things in nature. However, I don’t like the inconvenience of mounting piles of snow and hate driving in snowy or icy road conditions. It is super scary, especially if you drive a little car with bad traction.

I must admit though, that I love snow days. On such days, DFJ gets to work from home and I can bug him anytime. Snow days also give us a good reason to slow down and take it easy. There is nowhere to go and no one is expecting you. Being forced to stay indoors is the perfect excuse to make a big pot of coffee or drink copious amounts of tea, snuggle up in a blanket and read a book, muse about silly things and then write about them, bake bread (which is currently not rising as happily as I would want it to), or make some homemade chicken broth (which is filling our house with a wonderful smell). You could also bake some cookies, but if you already have some sitting around, then just make a hot beverage of your choice to have it with.

So last Sunday, I baked some buckwheat cookies because my favorite blogger, Molly Wizenberg, convinced me to. In her 92nd Spilled Milk podcast, she talked about these amazing buckwheat cookies that have successfully piqued my interest… enough to make me invest a few dollars on buckwheat flour and cocoa nibs (I gave my stash away before our big move last July) just for this recipe. After creaming the butter and sugar, I realized that the cocoa nibs were nowhere to be found. A freak-out moment ensued and needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. Apparently, we accidentally left the cocoa nibs at the store, along with two truffles. Boo! I am down to my last bar of good, dark chocolate and didn’t want to cut it in small shards for the cookie batter. So I decided to grind up some fresh coffee beans, espresso style, and add it into the batter along with some mini morsels of semi-sweet chocolate. The original recipe does not aim for sweetness but a contrast of the bitter cocoa nibs in the sweet cookie dough. However, my improvised version with coffee grounds works just fine too. I still intend to make these cookies with cocoa nibs as soon as I get my hands on them and as soon as this big pile of cookies we have will disappear.    

Having never baked with buckwheat flour before, I honestly did not know what to expect. I tried a few cookies fresh from the oven and tasted the buckwheat. It definitely has its own distinct flavor that almost puts it in the category of slightly unpleasant. DO NOT let this turn you off. Please no! Instead, be patient and wait… because half a day later, only a faint trace of the “buckwheatish” taste is left. And if you wait for an entire day, it completely disappears. What remains is a crispy, melt-in-your mouth buttery cookie that is unlike any regular butter cookie. The buckwheat in the dough has some delightful complexity to it that an unsuspecting friend would never be able to identify what it is that makes it extra special. This cookie has an irresistible charm that will make you keep coming back for more. The touch of espresso grounds is a good contrast to the sweet dough and a few chocolate chips never hurt.

Since I did not plan on writing a post about this recipe, I did not record the process of making these cookies. I urge you to visit Molly’s page for the recipe. In lieu of cocoa nibs, I used 1/3 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate cookies and 1 and ½ teaspoons of fresh, espresso ground, coffee beans.

Yesterday, I ate about eight cookies before our hike at the state park nearby, plus two more after dinner. It fueled me for a solid two and a half hours of trudging through mud in the beautiful, naked woods.    

Today, I just inhaled the crumbs of my fifth cookie. I’m telling you, these are highly addicting!

Stay warm my friends! And to everyone out there who has to work during snow days, please be safe, there's already four inches to contend with and more coming. To the mailman who just delivered a Christmas present for me from my brother-in-law (The Zuni Café Cookbook), thank you. I wish I knew you were coming today because I would have been so happy to share some of these delicious cookies with you.


  1. Oh wow. It has been like spring in Vancouver, I forget what snow looks like! People here are in short skirts and light sweaters! Hope you stay warm though!
    These cookies are calling my name! I have never cooked with buckwheat flour either, but I will heed your advice and wait a day before eating my baked goods. Which, I can tell, will be hard for me.

  2. I'm okay with snow so long as I don't have to leave my apartment while it's going on lol! I am definitely intrigued by the sound of these cookies! I have buckwheat flour around always but rarely use it. Time to break it out!

  3. So much snow! The cookies look perfect. Stay safe and warm!


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