Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

Barley Chocolate chip cookies 1

When there’s nothing else you can do, bake cookies.

I baked a batch of chocolate chip cookies in the tiny kitchen of the palliative care ward my friend Rachael was in 5 years ago, for the strangers who shared our space for those days and weeks, who came and went and sat and walked the halls carrying hearts raw with sadness. We’d go downstairs to Starbucks in a weak attempt to refuel, and on one afternoon I kept walking, out the door and across the street to the grocery store, where I bought butter and sugar and flour and eggs. I rummaged through the kitchen normally reserved for families and friends of patients to store and reheat food brought from home, digging out a bowl, spoon and makeshift measuring cup. The apartment-sized oven coughed itself on, then released the aroma of baking into the stale hospital air, bringing with it a sense of comfort and calm.

As I walked through the halls with a plate of warm cookies, people hunched in bedside chairs and huddled in common areas would look up with faint surprise. “You baked cookies? For us? Thank you.”

Barley cookie dough
Barley cookies baked

I baked this particular batch cookies for my almost-8-year-old boy, knowing that nowadays he tires of hugs after about one of them, unless they are delivered in cookie form. I made them with barley flour; barley is high in fibre, with more than twice as much (soluble and insoluble) as oatmeal. And although barley flour hasn’t quite caught on in most kitchens, it’s common and easy to find on grocery store shelves alongside the wheat flour. Barley flour is softer than you’d think – in fact, you don’t get the same tweedy texture with barley flour that you do with whole wheat flour.

Barley Collage

And because in Canada, much of the germ is often removed from a grain of wheat milled to make flour, making whole wheat flour not really whole (up to 5% of the kernel can be removed to help reduce rancidity and prolong the shelf life of whole wheat flour) barley flour is a great alternative if you want to up your fibre but still make a delicious cookie. It produced a thinner, chewier, more spread out cookie, but in a good way; barley also has humectant properties, meaning they stay soft.

Barley chocolate chip cookies 2

Just like a hug.

Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups barley flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. dark or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars until pale and almost fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add the barley flour, baking soda and salt and stir or beat on low until almost combined; add the chocolate chunks and stir just until blended.

Drop dough by large spoonfuls onto a parchment-lined sheet and bake for 10-14 minutes (depending on their size) until golden around the edges but still soft in the middle. Let them set for a minute, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

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April 16 2013 05:47 pm | dessert and grains and snacks

29 Responses to “Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies”

  1. lea on 16 Apr 2013 at 6:17 pm #

    lovely post. You’re right. Now is a good time to bake.

  2. Christine on 16 Apr 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    :) right back at ‘ya

  3. CathyH on 16 Apr 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    What a wonderful,heartfelt story. You,are a good person, Julie.

  4. heather whitbread on 16 Apr 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    I’m wondering whether this could be considered gluten free? I don’t need to avoid gluten, but am becoming increasingly aware of friends that do need to avoid it. It would be nice to have a few recipes in my repetoire that I could make for them!

  5. Zannat on 16 Apr 2013 at 8:36 pm #

    Cool recipe! I’ll have to keep an eye out for barley flour the next time I go to the grocery store.

  6. Erin B on 16 Apr 2013 at 8:53 pm #

    I just picked up that flour at Safeway this week. It’s also grown in Alberta. Used it in your heartland oatmeal muffins already. It was lovely.

  7. CathyH on 16 Apr 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    Heather, barley is not gluten free. Try quinoa flour.

  8. Kimberley on 16 Apr 2013 at 9:48 pm #

    I always enjoy your blog, Julie. You are a fabulous chef/baker, and also an awesome writer. Thanks for this sweet post.

  9. kickpleat on 16 Apr 2013 at 11:17 pm #

    Okay, I’m so going to seek out barley flour. And you are beyond sweet.

  10. Jan @ Family Bites on 17 Apr 2013 at 5:49 am #

    You are so kind and I’m so thankful that we’re friends. Also, I have never seen barley flour on the grocery store shelf here, but now I’m going to look for it.

  11. Carol S-B on 17 Apr 2013 at 8:46 am #

    I’ve seen barley flour but, uncertain as to how to use it, I’ve never actually picked any up.
    Has anyone tried it in a bread machine?
    I’ll get some anyhow… I need to make these cookies too.
    And,Julie: a warm hug to you this morning, too.
    I love a woman who has a word like ‘humectant’ and isn’t afraid to use it :)

  12. Diane on 17 Apr 2013 at 11:00 am #

    This is such a lovely story. A friend of mine who volunteers at a Hospice brings his bread maker for the same reason – a lovely, homey, comforting smell that hopefully brings a bit of peace.

  13. Melanie on 17 Apr 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Tonight was the first night in a long while that I felt like I really made dinner for me and my kids. Like a real dinner with souvlaki and greek salad (full of chick peas) and homemade tzaziki… and it felt different around the table than it had in a long time… like we were happy. The comfort of food prepared by hand, be it cookies or garlic-laden pork tenderloin, fills hearts as well as bellies. I was so glad to read this because I was having a hard time putting a finger on ‘why tonight?’ Thanks Julie.

  14. Helene on 17 Apr 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    You have such a big heart to have done so. I have not baked with Barley flour before and don’t remember seeing it at the store. Would you tell me if it is possible to use in breads and pizzas?

  15. Lana on 18 Apr 2013 at 8:01 am #

    I remember that day so well. It was a brilliant idea and such a simple but wonderful way to perk everyone up in such a sad place. Thank you for the reminder. :)

  16. the other Al on 18 Apr 2013 at 9:16 am #

    I think I have humectant properties too…sniff

  17. Meta4 on 18 Apr 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    Check out lots of barley recipes.

  18. C. Olsen on 20 Apr 2013 at 8:40 pm #

    My 8 year old daughter and I made these this afternoon-delicious! Due to allergies we used dairy free margarine and egg replacer instead of real eggs. They are wonderful! Thanks for a great recipe to use my barley flour. I grind barley in my nutrimill and have been looking for ways to incorporate it into my baking successfully. This recipe is a big success! We’ll be sharing some tomorrow with someone in need.
    Thanks again!

  19. Laura on 22 Apr 2013 at 10:04 pm #

    Great post and love the recipe. :)

  20. Gayatri on 06 Oct 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Thank you for sharing these! They turned out delicious :)

  21. Barley Chocolate Chip Cookies | The Desserted Girl on 06 Oct 2013 at 7:16 am #

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  25. Nirupama on 21 May 2014 at 3:14 am #

    The cookies turned out to be awesome!! Thank you so much! This was the first time I baked cookies and they came out to be flawless! Thank you!! Much love!

  26. Adriana on 03 Nov 2014 at 8:36 pm #

    Hi Julie. Just bought barley flour and I’m so excited to try it! Trying to reduce the sugars in my diet… got any suggestions for substitutes?

  27. joana on 09 Jan 2015 at 9:45 pm #

    Hi I just wanted to know if you can freeze these over night and then bake them in the morning, thanks for the recipe! :)

  28. Julie on 12 Jan 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    Joana – I don’t think you need to freeze them overnight – just keep the dough in the fridge, then bake them in the morning!

  29. SG on 10 Mar 2015 at 3:48 pm #

    Hi Julie. Wow! These cookies are amazing! Thanks for sharing the recipe. I can’t wait to try your other recipes.

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