Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

You can buy hazelnut-flavored coffee, hazelnut liqueur, hazelnut coffee creamer, and of course there's Nutella. People must like hazelnuts, right?

But hazelnuts themselves don't seem very popular. You'll find one or two of them among the more plentiful cashews in mixed nuts, but you won't find big bags of them at the store, like you'll find bags of walnuts or pecans.

And to make things even more confusing, when you do find them, they might be labeled "filberts."

Although they aren't quite as plentiful as walnuts, they're still available at most grocery stores. You might have to look past the bags of other nuts to find them. but they're around.

You probably won't be able to find chopped hazelnuts for this recipe, but they're not difficult to chop by hand. You can also use a food processor, pulsing until the nuts are in small bits, but stopping before they are all powdered - you want some texture in the cookies.

These cookies are crisp on the edges and a little chewy on the inside, but if you prefer a cookie that's dry throughout, you can bake them a few minutes longer.

TIP: If you've ever chopped nuts by hand, you know that they tend to leap off the cutting board or roll away. To thwart that nutty behavior, put your cutting board in your rimmed baking sheet. If nuts fall off the cutting board, the baking sheet will keep them contained, so you won't be chasing them all over the counter and picking them off the floor.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until it is softened. (Note: you can also use an electric hand mixer, but if you have a stand mixer, it makes it much easier.) Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until they are incorporated. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low speed just until the mixture is combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Mix the hazelnuts in with a wooden spoon.

With a tablespoon or small scoop, make balls from the dough, and place them on the baking sheet. Flatten the balls to disks about 1/4 tthick.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes, until the cookies appear dry on top - they will be visibly lighter in color than the raw dough.

Move the cookies to a rack to cool completely.

Just for the fun of it, I sprinkled some of the cookies with edible star glitter. I wondered if it would melt. It didn't melt and it looked pretty cool. It would also be nice on cakes or cupcakes, scattered over the frosting.