I don’t know about you, but as disciplined and balanced an eater as I am, I can’t stay away from Nutella. It is my one weakness, my kryptonite. I could, in all honesty, much have a pretty awesome evening with a book, a jar of Nutella and a spoon. Forget bread, as it just gets in the way. And if you think I’m exaggerating for dramatic effect, here’s a small confession, I’ve been known to go through a complete jar of Nutella from start to finish in one sitting. Yes, I have that little will-power. Hazelnut chocolate – I just can’t quit you!
So you would think I’d be wise enough not to make chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookies; cookies that bring hazelnuts and chocolate together. You’d think I would have enough common sense to know early on this was a very bad idea indeed. You’d think I would see the impending doom coming. Instead, I ignored every scrap of common sense and made the cookies anyway.
I should have smelled trouble when I started to lick the chocolate hazelnut batter off the mixing paddle and licked the paddle clean. But here as well, I ignored the warning signs. I should have just refrigerated the dough and brought it over to a more disciplined friend and begged her to take it. But I persisted and proceeded to make the cookies.
And they were cooling, I kept looking over at them, circling the kitchen island like a shark in waiting. And then, I could take it no more. I poured myself a gigantic glass of milk, piled a half dozen cookies on my plate and within minutes both the glass and the plate were empty save for a few loose cookie crumbs. I brought the rest to a birthday party where I am hoping they were decimated.
You would think I’d learn my lesson then, except that as I’m typing this, there’s an open jar of Nutella to my right, with a spoon in it. I guess that makes me a slow learner.
Chocolate Hazelnut Crinkle Cookies
Gourmet, December 2006.
2/3 cup hazelnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet
chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
Special equipment: parchment paper
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Toast hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan in oven until skins split and nuts are pale golden, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven (turn oven off), then wrap hazelnuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove any loose skins. Cool nuts completely.
Pulse nuts with granulated sugar in a food processor until finely chopped.
Melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or in top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside.
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
Beat together butter and brown sugar in another bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in melted chocolate until combined. Add milk and vanilla, beating to incorporate. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in nut mixture. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough until firm, 2 to 3 hours.
Form and bake cookies:
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift confectioners sugar into a bowl. Halve dough and chill 1 half, wrapped in plastic wrap. Roll remaining half into 1-inch balls, placing them on a sheet of wax paper as rolled. Roll balls, 3 or 4 at a time, in confectioners sugar to coat generously and arrange 2 inches apart on lined baking sheets.
Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are puffed and cracked and edges feel dry (but centers are still slightly soft), 12 to 18 minutes total. Transfer cookies (still on parchment) to racks to cool completely.
While first batch is baking, roll remaining dough into balls. Line cooled cookie sheets with fresh parchment, then coat balls with confectioners sugar and bake in same manner.
Cookies keep, layered between sheets of parchment or wax paper, in an airtight container at room temperature 5 days.