Baking the perfect crispy on the outside yet soft and chewy in the centre cookie is a serious business, and one I have devoted myself to for about a decade, since the days of "My Very First Cookbook" and other such kitchen essentials. After hundreds of batches, millions of chocolate chips and an unknowable amount of "taste-testing" of the dough, I think I've finally nailed it.
Follow the recipe carefully for it contains many secrets tips and hints for getting that perfect dessert. So without further ado I present, here for your global wonderment and perpetual use, my very own recipe for chewy hazelnut, dark chocolate and cardamom cookies.
I usually use the more Australian word 'bickie', but these are so classically, decadently American that 'cookie' really is the only way to go).
Two cups of plain flour 175g butter Two eggs (one egg white will be discarded) teaspoon bicarbonate of soda teaspoon baking powder
¾ tablespoon cardamom
1 cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
1 cup hazelnut meal
200g dark chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (optional)
Preheat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius/ 338 degrees Farenheight. If you have a fan-forced oven you may need to lower this temperature by about 10 degrees Celsius/ 50 degrees Farenheight.
Melt the butter in a large heat-proof bowl (microwave) or saucepan (stove). Be sure to do this slowly, so as not to overheat and burn the butter.
Add both sugars and stir. Once slightly cooled (so as not to cook the egg – trust me, it's possible) add one full egg and one egg yolk. Stir again, and mix in vanilla essence if desired.
Sift in flour, bicarb soda, baking powder, and cardamom. Add enough hazelnut meal to make a soft dough. The dough should feel sticky to the touch but still roll easily into a ball, leaving your hands oily. This is possibly where practice comes in – after a while you will get to know what the dough ought to feel (and taste!) like.
Place small balls of dough about 5cm apart on a greased or lined tray. There is no need to flatten them as this will happen naturally during the cooking and cooling process. Bake for no longer than 10 minutes. This is important, as when you take them out of the oven they will appear undercooked, however when left to cool slightly on the tray they will harden. You can then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Our oven mitt, "Snappy", reaches for the last of the batch
If you prefer a drier cookie you can use the same recipe but bake them for 3-5 minutes longer.
For classic chocolate chip cookies, remove the cardamom and hazelnut meal (add more plain flour if needed) and switch dark chocolate chips for milk chocolate chips. This recipe can also be used to make white chocolate and almond or macadamia cookies by making the appropriate substitutions.