A few years ago, I gave Jess a gift of a “Bakeshop Basics” class at Viking Cooking School. It appears they have closed their suburban Philadelphia outpost, so that’s kind of sad. Jess was well beyond the basics of baking, but I knew she wanted to learn how to make bread, and one of the things they had on their roster for this class was bread. When Jess came home, she had a box with samples of each of the treats they covered in this day-long class.
One of the treats she had in her box was this cookie, this chocolate espresso hazelnut beauty. It has since been one of my favorites– soft, nutty, and rich, this cookie is worth all the pain and suffering that comes with using hazelnuts. Toasted hazelnuts are delicious– you can see we love them, since we use them in recipes all the time. But they are frustrating to deal with; you have to bake them in the oven and then remove the skins, but the skin does not come off easily. My best recommendation is to toast more than what you’re asked to use in any recipe. You will find that a fair percentage of the skins do not come off the nuts.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake in a 275° F oven for about 20-25 minutes, when skins have darkened and cracked. Place the hazelnuts in a paper towel and rub them vigorously to remove the skins. Chop the nuts and set them aside.
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (to save yourself time, use the Whole Foods brand bittersweet chocolate chunks)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped hazelnuts
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place rack in center of oven. Sift together cocoa powder, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In a double boiler, melt together butter and 2/3 cup chocolate.
In bowl of electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, and espresso powder. Beat on high with paddle attachment until mixture becomes pale and thick – about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and mix in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla extract.
Add the flour-cocoa mixture, and beat until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate and hazelnuts.
Drop batter by heaping tablespoons on parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake until the tops have crusted over and are slightly cracked – about 9 to 11 minutes. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time. Be careful, chocolate-based cookies burn easily! Transfer to cooling racks and let cool for at least 10 minutes.