I figured today would be a great day to dig into one of everyone’s favorite treats, chocolate chip cookies. I feel cookies are a desert staple. Practically every bakery, coffee shop, food store and blog are associated with chocolate chip cookies in some fashion. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy these cookies best when the bottom has a slight crunch, and the inside of the cookie is soft and gooey… not to mention the chocolate chips that just melt in your mouth. The only downside is how addicting chocolate chip cookie batter is… maybe the best batter ever created, and my favorite to eat. This is probably why they made a cookie dough flavor, a totally genius idea!
My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe has a secret ingredient, which is hazelnut! I wanted to give my cookies some extra flavor, and it dawned on me… I love hazelnut flavor, plus hazelnut and chocolate are an awesome pair. Have you ever had Nutella? My Oma was obsessed with this stuff and believed there were no deserts that she couldn’t add Nutella too! If they can make hazelnut coffee, then why not hazelnut cookies. I decided to grind up hazelnuts and add them to the chocolate cookie dough batter, with the final result…. My favorite cookies! Now I prefer to grind up hazelnuts and add them to the dry ingredients in the cookie batter, but you are welcome to buy hazelnut extract and add the flavoring to your batter. The liquid form will take away some of the nutty texture, but will still have great flavor.
So on to hazelnut talk. These tasty nuts are created from a hazel tree. They can take 7-8 months to ripen. Imagine the amount of cookies you could make in that time. They are also known as a fiber nut or cobnut, and can be oval or spherical, or even elongated. Turkey is actually the largest Hazelnut producer, attributing to roughly 75% of the world’s total. The overwhelming majority of US Hazelnut production takes place in Oregon, around 99% of the US Hazelnut crop.
Here are some of the benefits these tasty nuts provide:
They offer vitamin A, and are also an antioxidant, meaning they fight free radicals. They also have vitamin E, and many minerals. Hazelnuts provide energy, and 20 grams of protein per 1 cup. They are also heart healthy, containing good fats. Now imagine these tasty nuts combined with a gooey chocolate chip cookie. Are you sold yet?
Now let’s talk about this recipe. I have made chocolate chip cookies so many times over the years. I started baking cookies consistently around 5 years ago, and I simply could not get them rise. They were flat disks… yuck. That is not what I wanted in my chocolate chip cookies. It was at this point when I began to research the science behind baking these cookies. I have learned a lot and come across many tips since then on how to make my cookies soft, plump, tall, and gooey all at once.
– My number one tip to make your cookies rise is to freeze the dough for at least an hour or refrigerate them for at least 4 hours before baking… really up to 24 hours refrigeration is optimal.
– Creaming the butter and sugar for at least 3 minutes is a must.
– Add more baking powder and less baking soda to make them softer. Since I’m using brown sugar and honey, I still need baking soda to help to neutralize the acidity, and the baking powder will help the cookies rise.
– Before placing cookies on the sheets, make sure the sheets are cooled. I use either an ice-cream scooper or spoon.
– I use mostly brown sugar and very little white sugar, as brown sugar creates softer cookies, and white sugar causes spreading.
– My cookies rise the best with a light colored cookie sheet that is not shiny.
– Do not over mix the batter when combining the flour into the liquid ingredients. Over mixing will create tough cookies, as the gluten will be over developed.
– Do not over bake the cookies, as they will continue to bake a few minutes once removed from heat.