Why It Works
- Freshly made hazelnut butter has more flavor than store bought, often at a fraction of the price.
- Creaming helps aerate the dough, reducing spread in the oven.
- Milk chocolate complements the hazelnut flavor without overpowering it.
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.
How to Make Hazelnut Butter
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.
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).
Making the Hazelnut Cookies
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.
I bake the cookies on a parchment-lined half-sheet pan at 350°F (180°C) 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.
Once the cookies have cooled to about 80°F (27°C), 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.
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.
7 ounces whole hazelnuts, toasted and skinned (about 1 1/3 cups; 200g)
4 ounces unsalted butter, pliable but cool, about 60°F (8 tablespoons; 115g)
10 1/2 ounces plain or lightly toasted sugar (about 1 1/2 cups, 295g)
1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 ounce vanilla extract (1 tablespoon; 15g)
1 large egg, straight from the fridge
9 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (about 2 cups, spooned; 255g)
6 ounces dark or milk chocolate, not chips (about 1 heaping cup, roughly chopped; 85g), tempered
Make the Dough: Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350°F (180°C). In the bowl of a food processor, grind hazelnuts to form a smooth and creamy paste. Combine hazelnut paste, butter, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to moisten, then increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With mixer running, add egg and continue beating only until smooth. Reduce speed to low, add flour all at once, and mix to form a stiff dough. If not tempering the chocolate, fold chopped pieces into the dough now.
Portion the Dough: Divide in 2-tablespoon portions and round each one into a smooth ball. (Portioned dough can be refrigerated in a heavy-duty zipper-lock bag up to 1 week, or frozen 6 months. Stand at room temperature until quite soft, about 70°F or 21°C, and proceed as directed.)
To Bake: Arrange portions on a parchment-lined half sheet pan, leaving 2 inches between cookies to account for spread. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges but steamy in the middle, about 12 minutes. Cool directly on baking sheet until crumb is set, about 5 minutes.
To Finish the Cookies: When the cookies have cooled to room temperature, drizzle with tempered milk chocolate. Once the chocolate has set, transfer to an airtight container with a sheet of wax or parchment paper between each layer and store up to a week at room temperature.
Food processor, stand mixer, half sheet
This recipe can also be made with an equal weight of toasted almonds and a teaspoon of almond extract added along with the vanilla.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 9g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||16%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||4%|
|Total Sugars 12g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|