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“Rustic” chocolate nutty butter cookies

January 18, 2009

Now, not everyone will be a fan of these, but I feel that diversity is not a bad thing, and thus that if you feel the description sounds like you, to give these cookies a try. If you’re in the mood for a soft, crumbly, buttery cookie that’s slightly chocolatey, not too sweet, a little salt-kissed, with a rich nutty background flavour and soft chunks of dark chocolate nestled in amongst it all (as well as some specks of almonds or hazelnuts). The great thing is of course you’re manipulating exactly how big you want the chocolate chunks, exactly how fine the smashed nuts are. The recipe was found at Pittsburgh Needs Eated, a great site for unique baking recipes. Originally from Gina DePalma’s “Dolce Italiano.”chocalmondcookies2The white on the outside is icing sugar, don’t panic. They haven’t developed some horid fungal infection :P

chocalmondcookies1Anyway, I couldn’t help thinking to myself as I rolled these out how perfectly old-school they seemed to be, and I felt almost transported to some brick and wood kitchen with copper pans etc…These really are quite decadent, although in a very traditional sort of way. They’re not sticky or overtly refined, just comforting and a little addictive, exactly what I was looking for. They’d work beautifully with a superb cup of coffee, or as a cute treat for a picnic. They also take a bit of prep time, so get out your apron, set your music a’playin, and take your time (hey, if you’re a student especially, you’re probably still on holiday. If you’re not, well…you’ll need a sweet treat more than ever!).

Chocolate nut butter cookies (almond or hazelnut reccommended)

makes about 24 one inch cookies.

1 c plain flour
1/6 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt (omit if using salted butter),
1/4 tsp if you’re not keen on salt-kissed chocolate
1/4 c whole hazelnuts or almonds, roasted
70g dark chocolate, finely chopped (go as dark or not as you like)*
115g unsalted butter, softened (consistency of margarine)
1/4 c sugar
1 small egg (room temp)
1/2 tsp vanilla

3/4 c icing sugar for dusting

Whisk first 4 ingredients together in a bowl (sift if your cocoa is a bit lumpy) and set aside. Put nuts in any old packet or a small bag and bash with a rolling pin or similar until the nut pieces are to your desired side. Medium fine (ie. some pretty much ground, some coarse bread-crumb sized) is a safe level to bash to. Alternatively whizz in your food processor. Add to bowl of dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar until pale and/or fluffy, approx 2 mins. Beat in egg and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients for a wet(ish) dough, until just combined, making sure not to mix once uniformly moist. Cover bowl and chill in fridge for at least 30 mins, until firm.

Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 160C or 320F. Lightly grease a baking tray, then put icing sugar in a bowl or on a plate.

Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a rough ball, then roll in icing sugar, coating thoroughly. Flatten, and place on tray, spacing approx 1 inch apart. Repeat until all dough is used up. Bake until puffed and the cookies have small cracks in the sugar coating, or until they spring back when pressed lightly in the centre. Allow to cool on the tray for 1-2 mins before transferring to a rack to cool properly. Taste heavenly warm, slightly crackly on the outside, and soft the next day. Last about a week kept in a cool place, in a sealed container (once totally cooled).

*If you’re a bit broke and in NZ, signature range’s dark chocolate buttons aren’t bad value for regular pricing. They have a ridiculously low cocoa content, but it’s masked pretty well. Again, hate to bully Nestle, but their dark chocolate isn’t top notch for baking, and also, they’re openly known for some of the worst food crimes on the planet – make sure to shop around for a reliable cooking chocolate (sometimes your every day eating chocolate will be fine, especially used as chocolate chips).

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