I am always on the lookout for good cookie recipes—you can never have too many.... On a recent visit to Lara Ferroni's blog Cook and Eat I found a recipe for a cookie that I knew I had to try—Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies. Conceived of along the lines of a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but with the addition of some cocoa and hazelnut flour, they seem like a particularly good idea. I love this flavor combination and I was so pleased with the Chocolate Gingerbread recipe that I found on her blog last fall that I felt like this cookie recipe would probably be a winner, too. And they are. The dough bakes up into a slightly chewy, chocolate-y cookie with a rich background taste of roasted hazelnuts. They are excellent with a cup of strong coffee.
The original recipe calls for a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. I made my second batch with just all-purpose flour. The cookies are fine with the whole wheat flour, but I like them best without it. I don't always object to incorporating whole wheat flour into cookies. Cookies—like these—that have ingredients with strong flavors and textures that can stand up to the presence of the whole wheat are a good place to tuck in a little bit of whole grain goodness. Last year I posted a favorite recipe for Banana-Walnut Cookies that includes whole wheat flour. But there was something about this cookie that made me rebel a little bit at the thought of adding whole wheat flour. Sometimes it's nice just to splurge on a cookie (or two) and not worry too much about whether or not they are good for you.
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
1/3 c. (45 g) hazelnuts
1 1/4 c. (150 g) all-purpose flour
1/3 c. (25 g) cocoa powder (Dutch-processed)
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
4 oz. unsalted butter, softened
1/2 c. (100 g) golden brown sugar
1/2 c. (100 g) sugar
1 t. vanilla
1c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in a 350° oven until the skins begin to split and the nuts (under the skins) are turning a golden brown—about 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the warm nuts in a towel (use an old towel—the hazelnuts will stain your towel) and allow them to steam for a few minutes to encourage the skins to come off. Rub the nuts vigorously with the towel to remove as much of the skins as will easily come away. Generally speaking, the skins of hazelnuts are bitter and you want to remove as much as possible. For these cookies, this doesn't seem to be an issue, so it isn't necessary to work too hard at this. Let the nuts cool and then grind them flour-fine. A nut grinder works best for this, but you can grind them in the food processor if you add a couple of tablespoons of the granulated sugar. If using the food processor, you will not be able to grind the nuts as finely—they would turn into nut butter if you tried. (You could also use purchased hazelnut flour. Toast the nut flour briefly—until fragrant—and let cool before using.)
Whisk the nut flour together with the all-purpose flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
Cream the butter with the sugars just until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat in the egg followed by the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. The dough will be very stiff and will seem dry. Add the chocolate chips as the last of the dry ingredients are disappearing into the dough.
You can bake these immediately, but I think they taste better if the dough chills overnight. Scoop the dough with a level tablespoon-sized cookie scoop. Roll the scooped cookies into balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spreading the balls 2 inches apart. Flatten the balls slightly.
Bake the cookies in a 350° oven for about 8 to 9 minutes, turning the sheet half way through the baking. The cookies will puff up as they bake and begin to crack. The cookies will just be beginning to collapse when you remove them from the oven (all of them may not have begun to collapse, but take them out anyway or they will be hard and crunchy when they are cool).
Since the cookies will still be quite soft, allow them to sit on the cookie sheets for 2 or 3 minutes (until they are firm enough to lift with a spatula) before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
(Recipe adapted from the original at Cook and Eat to create a chewier, less crunchy, cookie)