Fall is my favorite season for many reasons. Back home in Oregon, the leaves turn vibrant shades of red, orange, and gold. The air has an edge to it, a clean crispness that's strikingly dry considering the amount of moisture in the air. The clouds come in and the rain washes away the dust and business of summer. Everything becomes calm. It is a time for warmth, for nesting, and for me, a time to borrow deeply into the corners of my kitchen.
This past week marked the official start of fall in my home (i.e. I actually had to turn on my space heater) and my excitement at the brief burst of cool weather resulted in a bounty of autumn harvest vegetables filling up my cupboards, as well as a mini-tidal wave of pumpkin-flavored seasonal treats on our table.
So just as a forewarning, there are going to be a lot of posts involving squash over the next month.
But today I am going to talk about another product of the fall, and that is the rich and buttery hazelnut. Plain, its flavor has a bitter edge to it, but when roasted, it softens up and turns into a mellow, warm, and deliciously fatty little friend. So when I was approached to make a recipe from Carey Jones & Robyn Lenzis' new cookbook, Chocolate Chip Cookies: Dozens of Recipes for Reinterpreted Favorites, I knew which recipe I was going to make as soon as I read the words "roasted hazelnut" and "nutella" (although with chocolate chip cookie flavors like salty pretzel, olive oil sea salt, and boozy bourbon, there was some tough competition on the playing field). But I was also intrigued by the use of malted milk powder, which I've read a lot about in cookbooks but had never actually used. If you're unfamiliar with malted milk powder, you may recognize it as the powder they use to flavor milkshakes to their "malted" form, or in the candy "whoppers", whose crispy centers are pretty much straight malted milk powder and sugar. Basically, malted milk powder has a slightly nutty taste to it that is creamy and rich at the same time, so it adds a really interesting flavor profile to baked goods.
Now, I am going to let you in on a secret: something magical happens when nutella, roasted hazelnuts, malted milk powder, and chocolate chip cookies combine. Honestly, magical. The flavor goes beyond what "tasting good" means, the ingredients coalesce in a way that puts all the other cookies I've had to shame. It's the warmest, nuttiest, chocolatiest cookie you could imagine. And you don't have to just imagine it, you guys. It's real. I tasted it! And it tasted like sweet pure cookie-fection.
And luckily for us, the kind folks at Chronicle Books have decided to share a copy of this magical book with three of you. Huzzah!!! Three cheers for cookies!!!!
To enter, please use the widget below, the entry period ends on Friday October 11th at 11:59 pm Pacific Standard Time. Best of luck and a happy autumn to you all!
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Note: Makes about 30 Cookies
1 and 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 cup malted milk powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, skinned and chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahnreheit. Arrange the oven racks into thirds and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside. Whisk together the flour, malted milk powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended in a medium-sized bowl.
Cream together the butter and both sugars in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment at medium speed until smooth (about 1 minute). Add the hazelnut chocolate spread and mix until combined. Add the egg and the vanilla and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, then add the flour mixture at low speed until it is just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl if necessary.
Stir in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts until evenly distributed (a couple stirs). Take tablespoons of dough and drop them onto the prepared baking sheets, spacing them out about 2 inches from each other, until the sheets are full.
Bake in the oven for 13 minutes for a softer cookie, and 15 minutes for a crisper cookie. Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling completely. Kept in an airtight container at room temperature, the cookies will keep for 2 to 3 days.