Friday, February 29, 2008

Bittersweet Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Bittersweet Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

The first time I checked out Dolce Italiano I thought it was boring and returned it. When I mentioned this to April, she seemed shocked and said she thought all the recipes looked delicious. Suddenly I felt like i'd been too hasty, too judgmental. I respect April's taste, so I decided to give the book another try.

I browsed the recipes one by one and realized that i've become horribly spoiled by photos. This book has a daunting amount of text, and many of the recipes don't explain what the finished product should look like. Sometimes you have to trust a recipe will be good without the reassurance of a glossy photo and multiple descriptive indicators. You have to read recipes and understand that simple ingredients can yield beautiful, rustic desserts with clean flavors.

These chocolate and hazelnut cookies were a huge hit at work. Warm from the oven they were soft deeply chocolate flavored, almost like a tea cake. When cooled, they were slightly crunchy with a crumbly texture. The next day, they were softer but still rich and delicious.

Don't overmix the batter. It helps to fold the dry ingredients and butter/egg mixture several times with a spatula before turning on the mixer. My dough was very crumbly, but it came together when I formed it into discs. If you run the mixer long enough to make a very wet, cohesive dough, you'll end up with tough cookies. The cookies are rich, so it's better to make them smaller than bigger.

Bittersweet Chocolate and Hazelnut Cookies
adapted from Gina DePalma's Dolce Italiano
makes about 5 dozen cookies

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup whole hazelnuts, skinned or unskinned
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
5 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used 60% Callebaut)
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, for dusting

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and pulse them 2-3 times to chop them medium-fine. Add the hazelnuts to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir to combine them.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract and scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, beat in the dry ingredients, followed by the chocolate, and beat just until combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the dough until firm, about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325F. Lightly grease two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray or butter or line them with parchment paper.

Place the confectioners' sugar in a shallow bowl. To form the cookies, roll 1 scant tablespoon of dough into a 1 inch ball, then flatten it slightly with your fingertips to form a small disc. Roll the cookie in the confectioners' sugar to coat it evenly and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the dough is used, spacing the cookies 1 inch apart on the baking sheets.

Bake the cookies until they are puffed and cracking, 8-10 minutes. Rotate the baking sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time to ensure that the cookies bake evenly. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 1-2 minutes, then use a spatula to transfer them gently to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust them with additional confectioners' sugar.

The cookies can be stored in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper, and kept in a cool, dry place for up to 1 week.


ShellyH said...

Thanks for posting this recipe! I love to bake cookies and I am going to try this recipe as I have never made anything like them before.

Gretchen Noelle said...

These sound delicious! I actually have hazelnuts here to try with them. Thanks for sharing!

Deborah said...

These sound delicious! I'm a hazelnut lover, so I'm sure I'd love them!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Sounds like cookies I should bake. Love the look.

Cannelle Et Vanille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cannelle Et Vanille said...

You know? I felt the same about the book at first. Lack of photos and the greyish paper made them unattractive to me. I'm used to eye candy cookbooks. But then I saw her on the Martha Stewart Show making a brioche type of swirl bread with nuts and cinnamon and other spices (I can't remember the name of the recipe) and fell in love with it again. The lemon semolina cookies are delicious too and yours look like my cup of tea.

skoraq cooks said...

I have to try them on my own, cause the photo is not enough for me. I need the taste. They look fabulous.

Patricia Scarpin said...

Lisa, I'd love to give these cookies a try (love the ingredients). Tks for sharing!

Zo said...

these are a delicious change to most chocolate cookie recipes. True to their word they were bittersweet. I think if you like eating 70% chocolate, you can do these without icing sugar too (I had to because i realised I only had caster).

Thanks for sharing.