Friday, October 4, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

I've been busy.  When life is hectic sometimes I just want to put up my feet and nibble on something sweet.  This cookie fits my bill because it's portable, sweet, and goes together with a glass of warm tea.  Sipping the tea slowly while nibbling on the crisp edges of the cookie would lift up my mood especially when the weather turned blustery all of a sudden.  Crumbs fell to my lap and I looked at the time wondering how long had I been dreaming.  Time to go on with the everyday chore...

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Yield: 22 to 24 large (2 3/4" to 3") cookies; or about 4 dozen smaller (2") cookies.

1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional, for enhanced flavor
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon hazelnut flavor, optional, for enhanced flavor
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate-hazelnut spread, such as Nutella or Jif
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

Beat together the shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla, espresso powder, hazelnut flavor, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate-hazelnut spread until smooth.

Add the flour, beating gently until everything is well combined; the dough will be quite stiff and a bit crumbly. If it doesn't hold together well, drizzle in enough water or cold coffee (1 tablespoon or less) to bring it together. Watch out, though; if you add too much liquid, the cookies will flatten and spread out too much as they bake.

Drop the cookie dough by teaspoonfuls or tablepoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets (a teaspoon or tablespoon cookie scoop works well here), leaving 2" between them. The larger balls of dough will be about 1 1/2" in diameter, and weigh a generous 1 ounce each (if you have a scale); the smaller ones will be about 1 1/4" in diameter, and about 1/2 ounce in weight.

Use a large dinner fork to flatten each cookie to about 3/8" thick, making a cross-hatch design.

Bake the cookies for 7 to 12 minutes, until they don't appear super-moist any longer, and seem set. Since they're dark colored, it's difficult to tell when they're done by whether or not they're browned; it's a good idea to bake one test cookie first, to figure out the timing. Smaller cookies baked for the shorter amount of time will be softer; larger cookies baked for the longest amount of time will be crunchy.

Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan; or on a rack.

Source:  adapted from King Arthur Flour

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