Chocolate crinkles with a NW wrinkle
Hazelnuts are one of my favorite flavors of the season. I know they are available all year, particularly in Oregon, but the holiday season is their time to shine. Their distinct nutty flavor just yelps holidays, particularly wrapped in the delicious package of a cookie. Let’s face it, the holiday season is about cookies and hazelnuts are one of my favorite additions to all these for that holiday flavor.
Hazelnuts are an ancient nut that originated from the Mediterranean region, probably the area of modern day Turkey. Hazelnuts are still big in Turkey, where they grow 70% of the world’s hazelnuts. Here in Oregon, we have the perfect climate to grow hazelnuts as well, and grow 99% of these nuts for the US. A little know trivial fact is that the hazelnuts are Oregon’s state nut decreed in 1989. (Now you know)
And for a good reason, supposedly Oregon‘s hazelnuts boast bigger size and richer flavor than the rest of the world. You could say we grow the foodie hazelnut of the world. Because of this, 50% of hazelnuts are exported to places like Europe where the nut is a stable in the baked goods and foods there. (Can you say Nutello?)
In fact, this has been going on a long time over there. In 1995 archeologists found an ancient ginormous pit full of hazelnut shells in Scotland that has been carbon dated to 9000 years ago. This suggests a large scale production of these nuts that sustained not only a large community but it is figured they also exported the nuts to other communities. This mighty nut has been a big hit in Europe and the world ever since.
So the big question is this nut called a hazelnut or a filbert? The answer is both. Filberts were the name originally given to the nut in Europe by the French. They got their name from a French saint, Philbert, who has his special day on August 22th, takes place during the height of the hazelnut harvest. So naturally, it was believed that the filbert was his gift to the people. The name hazelnut came much later by those rebellious Americans that wanted a different name for their special nut, so started promoting it.
Chocolate and hazelnuts are a match made in heaven and therefore should be eaten in large quantities (or at least during the holidays). This chocolate hazelnut crinkle cookie is a perfect combination of all things good and are beautiful to behold. I have given you three different ways to flavor these delectables or you can choose just to let the flavors of chocolate and hazelnut shine and leave out the flavorings. They will be welcome at any function or just eating by the warm cozy fire in your own home. I have a gluten free version on my site http://www.cavewomancafe.com/. Happy holidays and may your’s be warm and filled with laughter and cookies.
Chocolate hazelnut crinkles
I’ve given you three ways for these to go, coffee, orange or peppermint. They are amazing either way just up to you.
2/3 cup of toasted hazelnuts
2 tablespoons of sugar
6 oz a good dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 3/4 cup of unbleached organic flour
2 TBLS of unsweetened cocoa powder (I used a dark one)
1 TBLS of espresso powder or fine ground coffee
OR the zest of one organic orange
OR 1/4 tsp of natural peppermint extract
OR leave the flavorings out
2 tsp of baking powder
3/4 tsp of a fine salt
1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
1.5 cups of packed light brown sugar
2 farm fresh eggs
1/4 cup of milk or coconut milk
1 tsp of excellent vanilla
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
Alrighty now, let’s get baking! Put the hazelnuts and sugar in the blender and pulse together until coarsely ground. (If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts super fine and mix with sugar)
Now melt your chocolate in the microwave in a microwave proof bowl by zapping for a 30 seconds then take out and stir, then zapping another 20 seconds, then stir some more, then zap another 15-20 seconds stirring till smooth, let it set for now. (If you have an aversion to microwaves, melt chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water or top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside.)
Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside while you whip together the butter and brown sugar until mixed well, takes a few minutes. Add the eggs one at a time while continuing to whip the butter mix, then add the melted chocolate, vanilla and milk and beat till smooth and fluffy, a couple more minutes. Now mix the flour mixture into the butter mixture until just combined and add in the nut mixture, till just mixed. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge till super firm, about 2-3 hours or overnight.
Now comes the fun part! Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the racks in the middle of the oven and grease your baking sheets up. Place your powdered sugar in a bowl and fluff it up, and get ready to roll. Take out your chocolaty dough and roll a one inch ball and then roll it into the powdered sugar, and arrange on the baking sheet about 2 inch apart. Bake the cookies till puffy and cracked about 12-15 mins. Let cool a bit before moving to a cooling rack. (If the powdered sugar is melting before the cookie is done, try rolling them in a bit of granulated sugar before the powdered sugar.) Try not to eat them all and share.