Triple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

It is Monday morning the 20th June, it is dark outside and bucketing down with rain.  Huddled at my computer in three layers, I am wondering if summer will ever arrive.  If, like me you are also in the depths of sun deprivation, these cookies will cheer you up no end.

There have been many, many varieties of chocolate chip cookies made in my kitchen over the years, but like fashion, they change with the season, and accessorised by the preferred ingredient of the moment.

These are the Summer of 2016 cookie.  We have eaten more batches of them while waiting for the warmth to hit than I think any other cookie ever to emerge out of the kitchen.  I have tampered with the cocoa amounts, added and subtracted chocolate, but the best addition was definitely the hazelnuts, which take these from a standard chocolate chip cookie to pure decadence.

The recipe for these was inspired by The Violet Bakery Cookbook, and Claire's Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies.  In those months where the days are longer, and meals with friends are more laid back, relaxed and hopefully outside, I like simple desserts that sit well with stone fruits, ice creams and granitas, veering away from cakes and making cookies and bars to accompany fruit and ices.  Replacing some of the flour with cocoa and adding white chocolate chips (and hazelnuts) makes these gooey yet still crisp round the edge cookies more of a dessert than a snack.

What do do with the leftover egg whites?  Make these and pray for sun.

Tripple Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Adapted from Claire Ptak's, The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Makes approx 36 medium sized cookies

This is your time to get creative.  Use any chocolate chunks of your choice (white, dark or milk).  Just because I like to combine does not mean you have to!  Want to use different nuts?  Pecans or walnuts would also be great, but feel free to leave them out all together if you prefer.  If using nuts, just remember to toast them first.

Note: These cookies need a little time in the freezer before baking, and are therefore great to make in advance

250g (9 oz) unsalted butter at room temperature

200g (1 cup) soft light brown sugar

100g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 egg yolks

1 tsp salt

285g (2.5 cups) plain flour

40g (1/4 cup) best cocoa powder

3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

125g (4.5 oz) dark chocolate chopped in to pieces (or dark chocolate chips)

125g (4.5 oz) white chocolate chopped in to pieces (or white chocolate chips)

100g (3.5oz) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped (or crushed with a mortar and pestle)

Line a small baking tray with parchment (make sure it will fit in your freezer).

Beat butter and sugar in a stand mixer until combined.  You do not want them to be creamy as these are dense cookies and not a light cake.

Add vanilla and egg yolks and mix well.

In another medium sized bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder and whisk together.

Add to the butter mixture and mix.  Add the chocolate chunks and hazelnuts and mix through.

With a small ice cream scoop (or 2 dessert spoons) scoop cookie dough into balls on to the prepared sheet.  As you will not be baking the cookies on this sheet, you do not leave to need space between them (See them smushed together like sardines above).

Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for at least 20 minutes.  If you do not have time, you can cook them straight away (making sure they are spaced out on the cookie sheet), but they will spread more and be a bit less even.

When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 170C (325F), take the cookies out of the freezer and place on a couple of large cookie sheets lined with parchment, leaving enough space between them to expand (the will double in size).  Allow 5 minutes out of the freezer for the dough to warm up before popping them in the oven.

Cook for 10-12 minutes depending on their size and allow to cool on the cookie sheets.  They will still be very soft in the middle when you take them out of the oven but they will firm up as they cool.

Note:  You do not need to cook the whole batch in one go.  Once the dough has firmed up in the freezer, you can transfer the uncooked dough balls to a freezer safe bag or container and keep them frozen for upto 2 months.  Just take them out as and when you need them and cook as above.  Instant dessert.  Instant gratification.

Enjoy!