I seem to remember from my uni days that revising for exams requires three things; self-discipline, a decent soundtrack and sustenance. It was with this in the mind that I set about making a batch of Nigel Slater’s chocolate and hazelnut cookies before curling up in a chair to confront the reams of pastry recipes and baking trivia currently fighting it out for space in my brain box. These cookies are perfect. They have the power to comfort, encourage, delight and boost a flagging spirit, whether you’re being beaten by the books or simply wishing the rain away.
These chocolate lovelies single-handedly taught me the golden rule of cookie making, that they should come out of the oven soft and yielding, impossible to move. 10 more minutes sitting on the side though and you have cookie nirvana. Nigel Slater, the Yoda of the baking world – check out his brownie advice here if you don’t believe me.
- 200g Green & Black’s dark chocolate
- 75g unsalted butter
- 225g light muscovado sugar
- 2 eggs
- vanilla extract to taste
- 50g skinned hazelnuts
- 150g self-raising flour
- Preheat the oven to 180° / Gas Mark 4 and line a baking tray with parchment paper. First of all melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure not to let the bowl touch the water or stir the chocolate while it melts. Patience at this stage will guarantee smooth, shiny chocolate with not a hint of graininess. Whilst the chocolate melts, toast the hazelnuts lightly in a dry frying pan for just a few minutes. If there is any smell in baking land better than toasted hazelnuts I’m yet to discover it. Chop half the toasted nuts roughly and grind the other half down to a sandy dust, the play of both textures is what really makes these cookies sing.
- Cream together the butter and sugar before gradually adding the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Now add the flour, melted chocolate and both sets of nut, folding the mixture together gently.
- Place 12 heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the tray, being sure to leave a good amount of space between them as these guys spread and flatten out as they bake. After just 10 minutes in the oven they’ll be done but remember, don’t try to move them onto your cooling rack straight out of the oven, they’ll be far too soft. Leave them on the tray for a further 10 minutes, then feel free to dive in.