With airline food what it is (or isn’t) these days, I always pack my own food to eat when I travel. I used to take peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because of their nonperishable nature until I came across a “no-peanut flight.” All passengers on that flight, including my family, were asked to not carry aboard any food that contained peanuts or peanut butter, because a passenger with a severe peanut allergy was going to board the plane. Most people seemed to comply, but many were not too happy, especially when after boarding, bags of opened peanuts were found in seat pockets all over the plane! Someone forgot to tell airline housekeeping about the “no-peanut flight!” That said, my favorite travel fare usually includes some of the following: sandwiches made without mayonnaise, apples, oranges, beef jerky, granola bars, homemade trail mix, and always homemade cookies.
These buckwheat cookies with cacao nibs are among my favorite cookies to eat whether I’m traveling or not. I like the texture and taste that the buckwheat flour lends to the cookies. Because buckwheat is low in gluten, it works like cornstarch does in shortbread cookies; it produces a more compact and crunchy-textured cookie. As for the cacao nibs, small pieces of roasted cocoa beans, they give these cookies a nice crunch and a hint of chocolate flavor. An added bonus of these nibs is that they won’t melt during your trip like chocolate chips normally would. I purchase cacao nibs at Whole Foods. I like to add chopped walnuts to this recipe because they add protein and fiber – good things to have when traveling!
There are many variations of this recipe on the internet, but most seem to originate from the cookbook Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich. Here’s my adaptation of Ms. Medrich’s recipe:
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cacao nibs
1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
1. Whisk the all-purpose and buckwheat flours together in a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, with the back of a large spoon or with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar and salt for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy but not fluffy. Mix in the nibs and vanilla. Add the flours and the walnuts; mix just until incorporated. Scrape the dough into a mass and, if necessary, knead it with your hands a few times, just until smooth.
3. Form the dough into a 12 by 2-inch log. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or, preferably overnight.
4. Position the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Line the baking sheets with parchment paper.
5. Use a sharp knife to cut the cold dough log into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Place the cookies at least 1-1/2 inches apart on the baking sheets.
6. Bake until the cookie are just beginning to color at the edges, 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through the baking. Cool the cookies in the pans on a rack, or slide the parchment liners carefully onto the rack to free up the pans. Let cool completely. The cookies are delicious fresh but even better the next day. They can be stored in an airtight container for at least one month.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Note: After the cookies have cooled completely, I wrap them individually in plastic wrap, put them in a Ziploc bag and freeze them. Just before I leave the house, I grab them out of the freezer, throw them in my carry-on bag, and they’re good to go!