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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dark Chocolate Hazelnut Bites


I've got a soft spot in my heart for first cookbooks.  It's not because my own first book  is coming out later this year, ok -not just because of that- but I love the earnest and unabashed enthusiasm that every writer put into their first project.  Cookbooks that come later in their career may perhaps be more polished, or even altogether far better, but they are often missing that je ne sais quoi that first books possess.

If you're a regular reader of Chez Pim, I'm sure you're a fan of my dear friend David Lebovitz's as well - you might even like him better, which is, of course, totally cool with me, just don't tell me!  And if you're a fan of his, you must also know that he's not only an über-blogger, but a prolific cookbook writer, with many successful books under his proverbial belt.  But the one that had my heart, and still does, is his first, Room for Dessert.  A number of recipes in that book have made their ways into my baking repertoire, and the book has coffee, butter, and molasses stains to prove that too.

The cookies I made last week is one of those recipes from this book.  He calls it Black and White Cookies, made with ground almond and bittersweet chocolate, rolled in powdered sugar.  These cookies are cute as buttons, and just about the same size too, absolutely the perfect size for just a bite or two of something bittersweet with your coffee.  I must also admit that I don't quite know how to leave a good recipe well enough alone, so I made mine with hazelnut instead of almond.  The effect was really quite lovely, sort of like Nutella cookies for grown-ups.

Dark chocolate hazelnut bites
(adapted from David Lebovitz's Black and White cookies, originally published in Room for Dessert)

8oz bittersweet chocolate (I used half 72% Valrhona Araguani and half 99% Scharffen Burger for super dark chocolate effect.)

3 Tablespoon (1.5oz or 45g) butter

1 1/2 T rum or whatever

2 eggs at room temp

1/3 cup granulate sugar 

1 (heaping) cup hazelnut (toasted in 350F oven for about 10-12 minutes, until fragrant, and then let stand until cool.)

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

a pinch of fleur de sel

more granulate sugar and powdered sugar for coating the cookies (I used about half a cup to one cup of each)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Chop the chocolates into small pieces.  Melt the chocolate and butter together (with the liquor too if using.)  You can do this in a bain-marie, that's to say in a bowl rest over a pot of simmering water.  I just nuke it in the microwave. 

In a mixer, whip the eggs and sugar together until they turn pale and form a ribbon, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the melted chocolate.

In a food processor, pulverize the nuts with the flour, then add the baking powder.  Add a pinch of fleur de sel, a big pinch if you're me.  Stir the ground nut mixture into the chocolate batter. 

Chill the batter in the fridge until firm, 1-2 hours.

Take two small bowls, fill one about 2/3 way up with powdered sugar, and do the same with the other but this time using granulate sugar.

Roll the chocolate cookie batter into 1 inch balls.  Roll each ball first in the granulate sugar, then the powdered sugar.  Set the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets, making sure they are at least 1 inch apart. 

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, swapping the top and bottom baking sheets about half way through the baking.  These cookies are done when they are slighty firm at the edges but still soft in the center.  Don't overbake them.  Once they have cooled, store the cookies in an airtight container.

(For this batch, I forgot to roll my cookies in the sugar before they went into the oven.  Not a problem really, I just did if after they're done baking.  They were perhaps not quite as pretty, but no less delicious.)


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