In the immortal words of mezzo-soprano, Marilyn Horne, as sung on Sesame Street, “C is for cookie, that’s good enough for me. Oh cookie, cookie, cookie, starts with C.” Leave it to Sesame Street to class up cookies and make them feel fancy with a bit of opera. Because let’s face it, cookies are not innately either of those things. They are a simple pleasure and generally a snack beloved by children.
That said, there’s no reason cookies can’t be sophisticated. That’s why I love Joanne Chang’s milk chocolate-hazelnut cookies. The recipe for which can be found in her cookbook, Flour. They’re not your pre-schooler’s cookie. They take a kinder classic and turn them into an adult favorite. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon or 185 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140 grams) granulated sugar
2/3 cup (150 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (210 grams) blanched whole hazelnuts, toasted
1 1/2 cups (210) grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
12 ounces (340 grams) milk chocolate, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed for approximately 5 minutes (10 minutes if using a hand mixer), or until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stop the mixer a few times and use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to release any clinging butter or sugar. Beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, or until thoroughly combined. Scrape the bowl again to make sure the eggs are thoroughly incorporated.
In a food processor, pulse 1/2 cup of the hazelnuts until ground to a fine powder (stop grinding once they are powdery; if you continue, they will become a paste). Roughly chop the remaining 1 cup hazelnuts. In a medium bowl, stir together the ground and chopped hazelnuts, the flour, baking soda, salt, and chocolate. On low speed, slowly blend the flour mixture into the butter-sugar mixture and then mix just until the flour mixture is totally incorporated and the dough is evenly mixed.
For the best results, scrape the dough into an airtight container and let it rest in the refrigerator overnight (or at least for 3-4 hours) before baking.
When you are ready to bake, position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 350 degrees F or 180 degrees C or Gas 4.
Drop the dough in 1/4-cup balls onto a baking sheet, spacing them approximately 2 inches apart. Flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
Bake for 20-22 minutes*, or until the cookies are golden brown on the edges and pale and slightly soft in the center. Let cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.
* I thought the cookies were great when baked for no more than 15 minutes. Once cool, they were really good and crunchy. I should also add that I couldn’t help myself. I know this recipe calls for milk chocolate and while I used some, I also used some dark chocolate chips.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. The unbaked dough can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.