Friday, December 10, 2010

Hazelnut & Choc-Chunk Cookies

Choc-Chip & Walnut Cookies

I hope you don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that these are The Best Cookies EVER. Because I'm not. They are everything you'd ever want in a cookie - soft, chewy (ohsochewy!) and studded with chunks of milk chocolate and hazelnut. They are also responsible for the bulk of the spare tyre currently nestled around my waist.

But let's back up a little. Have you met Joy? And by "met" I mean, have you mercilessly stalked her blog and oogled all the sugar-coma inducing goodies she parades on there on a nearly-daily basis? Peppered with just the right amount of wit and self-deprecation? Well if you haven't, go there. It's okay, I'll wait for you. Take your time - perhaps bookmark a recipe or two (three, four, five) to try out. Back? She's amazing, right? 

So, when Joy told me that these were the best choc-chip cookies in the entire universe, how could I not believe her? And even more so, how could I not rush to the kitchen to make these stat? Well, I couldn't. Clearly. And you know what, prepping these are a cinch. Truly. Except for the chopping the chocolate bit. 

Choc-Chip & Walnut Cookies

You see, I like chopping up my own chocolate instead of using those uniform (and horrid tasting if you ask me) choc-chips in the stores. It not only gives you a wider variety of shapes and sizes - adding to the visual appeal of the cookie - but also tastes sooooo much better. Because for chocolate, like wine, that old adage rings true: Don't cook with something you wouldn't eat/drink as is. So, no plastic-y choc-chips* for me.

And while I was busy getting ready for my big chopping extravaganza, I thought why not add nuts to the mix as well? Now, if you're clever like me, you'll just grab a few slabs of milk chocolate with hazelnuts in 'em. Alternatively, you could use plain chocolate and add the nuts in later. Either way. The combination is heavenly. I mean really, what is not to love about chocolate and nuts? 

And I haven't even waxed lyrical about the actual dough. Saving the best for last, I am. One of the best parts of this dough is that you can freeze it. Fresh from the oven choc-chip cookies on tap! But even better than that - frozen cookie dough for eating straight from the fridge on tap! Feel it, it is here! People, the frozen cookie dough was an absolute revelation to me. I'm not sure why I never tried it before - are all doughs created equal in this regard? - but man am I glad I discovered it. 

Choc-Chip & Walnut Cookies

And let me tell you, It's one thing to resist the frozen dough. But the finished product of dreamily chewy cookie? All resistance is futile. Yup, I think I can die happy now.

PS: The secret to the chewiness is apparently a combination of the melted butter, the brown sugar and baking these babies until they are just set on top, but still feel soft. It is at this stage that you should remove them immediately from the oven and onto a wire-rack for cooling. This last step is muy importante  - ask me who ended up with slightly harder, though still fantastically tasting cookies the first time around. 

*Is this a problem in other countries as well? Or is it just here that we are sorely lacking in the choc-chip department?

Hazelnut & Choc-Chunk Cookies

Hazelnut & Choc-Chunk Cookies
Adapted from Joy the Baker (who used Alton Brown's recipe)
Makes 60 - 70 cookies 

250g (2 sticks) butter (I prefer using salted, but feel free to use unsalted if you like)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
250g milk chocolate & hazelnut slab, chopped into chunks**

** substitute with 200g choc & 50g nuts if you can't find a slab

1. Melt butter in the microwave or in a small saucepan on the stove. Add to a large mixing bowl together with the sugar and whisk with an electric whisk for a minute or two.
2. Beat egg and egg yolk into the butter/sugar mixture, then stir in milk and vanilla extract.
3. Sift flour, salt and baking powder together and gradually add to the butter/sugar/egg mixture, stirring to combine.
4. Lastly add your mix-ins - in this case the chocolate and hazelnut chunks - and stir to distribute evenly through the dough. Cover and place the entire bowl of dough in the freezer (preferably overnight) to chill before baking.
5. When ready to bake, pre-heat oven to 190C. Line a cookie baking tray with wax paper. Remove cookie dough from freezer and roll tablespoonfuls into rough balls - the edges does not have to be perfect for these.
6. Arrange cookies onto the baking tray, being careful not to crowd them, then place in oven and bake for 14 minutes. Remove from baking tray using a spatula and transfer to a wire cooling rack. The cookies can be baked in batches, if necessary, just return the remainder of the dough to the freezer when not in use.

If you would like to freeze the dough for baking later, I'd recommend rolling the dough into balls, then placing on a wax-paper lined cookie tray until frozen. Once frozen, the balls can be transferred to a ziplock bag and kept in the freezer. This way you have warm from the oven choc-chip cookies at your fingertips.


Joanne on December 10, 2010 3:15 a.m. said...

I'm actually in love with Joy. She doesn't know it, but if I were into that kind of thing. We would be soulmates and married. Instantly.

And yet I haven't made these choc chip cookies yet!!! there is obviously something wrong with me.

Adele on December 10, 2010 5:09 a.m. said...

How come I don't know Joy? Thanks for the introduction. Also, about the chopping of the chocolate (she's a poet!): If you leave the chocolate bar wrapped and wack it against the counter edge a few times you're left with little bits of chocolate, with only a few to drag into line left.

You're right. These look divine. I totally agree with you adding hazelnuts. I think they're so much nicer than pecans or walnuts. Long live the chocolate chip cookie.

Marisa on December 10, 2010 7:01 a.m. said...

Great tip Adele! Don't know why I didn't think of that.

Marisa on December 10, 2010 8:28 a.m. said...

Could we make that a threesome? *ahem* I mean theoretically of course? Because I'd love to get in on that action.

Guestofwinter said...

I love hazelnuts in anything, I have to try these!

Jane-Anne on December 10, 2010 1:31 p.m. said...

Hell, these look good Marisa. My kids are going to go mad for them. Lovely photographs too. x

Marisa on December 10, 2010 1:49 p.m. said...

Thanks Jane-Anne! Feels like I got my photography mojo back with these. Perhaps the sugar coma inspires?

Lcatrice said...

I ♥ Joy's blog too.
These look nothing short of spectacular! Thanks for the recipe...and the tips.

arcadia said...

Dit lyk heerlik. Ek gaan nou heeldag daaraan dink. Damn, ek is mal oor hierdie tyd van die jaar!

tasteofbeirut on December 11, 2010 5:01 p.m. said...

These cookies are indeed spectacular! Love the chunks as opposed to choc chips (horrid ones! ) and love the idea to add hazelnuts to them; gives them an Italian flair.

LimeCake on December 12, 2010 2:13 a.m. said...

I love my cookies fat and chewy, and these look perfect!

Eliana on December 13, 2010 5:42 a.m. said...

You did great with this girl. They look amazingly delicious.

davina on December 13, 2010 11:22 a.m. said...

They do CERTAINLY look like the best cookies ever. Mine are never quite so chunky with that beautiful phatness all cookies should have. Love this. I guess I must try it too!!! x

Marisa on December 13, 2010 11:36 a.m. said...

I'm all about the chunks dah-link. ;-) You have to try these.

Robyn on December 13, 2010 6:51 p.m. said...

Hmmm... they do look good! Joy is oh so funny. Can't believe I'm still in front of the computer and not in the kitchen making these right now!

Marisa on December 14, 2010 9:25 a.m. said...

Me neither - get your apron out and get cracking!

PS: Send me a batch too, would ya? :-)

Polkadotcatering said...

O yummy, this do look scrumptious!

Jeanne @ CookSister! said...

*swoons with pleasure*

Oh my WORD these look divine!! I do not usually do milk chocolate but I can see how it would work perfectly in these - nutty, chewy, gooey... :o)

Yum Yucky on December 17, 2010 10:53 p.m. said...

I wants it! I would totally pay you to make me some, but it would probably cost like a gazillion dollars for shipping. Boo! Sob! Hiss!

Min {Honest Vanilla} on December 23, 2010 10:02 a.m. said...

Looks absolutely delicious! :) Definitely gonna try it out this holiday!

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