How to Make Chewy Toasted-Hazelnut Drop Cookies

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[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

I'm kind of low-key obsessed with hazelnuts—on their own, in chocolate spread, steeped into milk for ice cream, worked into macarons, or incorporated into something a little more savory. Whatever the dish, if hazelnuts are included in the description, I'm going to order it. I'm just a sucker like that.

And while I'm all about a buttery linzer cookie, there's something to be said for setting aside the crisp and jammy profile for something chocolaty and soft.

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To that end, this recipe comes together much like a peanut butter cookie. But instead of starting with commercial hazelnut butter (which can cost a pretty penny), I make my own in a food processor with deeply toasted, skinned hazelnuts. It's okay if a few skins slip through, but if they don't rub off with ease, it's a sign the hazelnuts haven't been toasted enough.

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Next, I grind the hazelnuts in a food processor until they transition from a damp, clay-like paste into a creamy nut butter. Then, I transfer that nut butter to the bowl of a stand mixer and combine it with unsalted butter, plain or lightly toasted sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and a little nutmeg (you won't taste the nutmeg on its own, it's just enough to amplify the buttery, nutty flavors of the dough).

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After creaming the butters and sugar until the combination is fluffy and light (a vital process I've explained in-depth before), I beat in an egg and then incorporate all-purpose flour on low.

Once the dough is smooth, I divide it into even portions with a two-tablespoon cookie scoop. To help the dough spread evenly in the oven, I like to roll each one smooth and round.

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I bake the cookies on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan at 350°F until they're puffed and firm around the edges (about 12 minutes). They'll still seem a little soft and steamy in the middle, but carryover cooking will carry them the rest of the way as they cool on the baking sheet.

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Once the cookies have cooled to about 80°F, you'll most certainly want to devour a few straight away. But (and this is admittedly an act of great courage and patience) the real magic happens when they're cooled to room temperature and drizzled with milk chocolate (check out Kenji's tempering guide here.

Obviously, you can grab whatever sort of chocolate you like, but the mellow sweetness of milk chocolate combines with the hazelnut cookies in a very agreeable, Nutella sort of way.

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With the holidays around the corner, this presentation really gussies up an otherwise simple drop cookie, but if tempering isn't really your thing, you can stir chopped milk chocolate into the dough, instead.

Thanks to the richness of the hazelnut butter, these cookies have a great shelf life—about a week at room temperature—making them an excellent choice for care packages and cookie swaps alike.

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