One of my favourite flavour combinations of all time is gianduja, which is the Italian term for chocolate hazelnut paste which is used to make so many delicious things from truffles to spreads and fillings. These Hazelnut Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies feature a chewy chocolatey cookie dough with chunks of hazelnut milk chocolate AND melty dark chocolate puddles.
DUTCH PROCESS VS. NATURAL COCOA POWDER
There are two main types of cocoa out there: Dutch process and non Dutch process. There's also raw cacao, but that's not as common.
What is Dutch process cocoa powder?
- Dutch process cocoa powder is alkalized cocoa which means that it has been treated with a basic (alkaline agent) such as sodium bicarbonate or potassium bicarbonate. This neutralizes the acidity of the cocoa and brings the pH up from around 5 or 6 to above 7.
How does Dutch process affect cocoa flavour?
- Alkalizing reduces the acidic or sour taste of cocoa and makes it more smooth or mellow. I find that as the pH gets higher (more heavily Dutched cocoa) the taste can get slightly smoky. It also tends to have less complexity. Natural cocoa has a more pronounced fruity character.
How does Dutch process affect cocoa colour?
- Alkalizing darkens the colour of cocoa powder by changing the chemistry of the polyphenolic compounds that tend to have a reddish/rust colour at a lower pH. It also makes it more soluble in water.
WHAT TYPE OF COCOA TO USE IN DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
However, this recipe for double chocolate hazelnut cookies contains brown sugar which is acidic, so even if you use Dutch cocoa, there will still be some acidity in the dough to react with baking soda to help these cookies rise and spread. They will spread slightly more if you use Dutch cocoa because there will be residual baking soda which promotes spread.
Also, using Dutch cocoa will yield darker coloured cookies if that is your preference. This is my favourite Dutch cocoa.
HOW TO MAKE DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
- STEP 1). Cream butter and sugar - make sure you butter is softened to room temperature and beat it with the brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth and just slightly fluffy. Keep the creaming to a minimum if you want these to be chewy cookies.
- STEP 2). Beat in the egg and vanilla extract. You can do this all by hand using a spatula or use a hand mixer. Mix until the egg is well incorporated.
- STEP 3). Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and blend well. I always sift in my cocoa powder because it can be lumpy.
- STEP 4). Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and fold it in until evenly combined.
- STEP 5). Fold in chocolate chunks. I use a bar of hazelnut milk chocolate and a bar of dark chocolate that I chop into chunks.
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE ESPRESSO POWDER
Espresso powder adds really nice depth and heightened roasted notes to these cookies which complements the hazelnuts so well!
If you don't have espresso powder, you can grind up instant coffee grounds. Or, just omit it from the recipe all together. I have tested it both ways and it still works just fine.
TIPS FOR MAKING THE BEST DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
- use salted butter! It really makes a different when working with a chocolate dough. It adds a richness that makes these taste ultra chocolatey
- use chocolate chunks instead of chips - if you like the melty "puddle" effect of the dark chocolate, then get you favourite dark chocolate bar or block and chop it up into rough chunks
- chill the dough - giving this dough time to sit in the fridge will help the cocoa settle into the butter and will give time to let the flour hydrate. This produces chewier cookies with a richer flavour.
Hazelnut Double Chocolate Chunk Cookies
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp 160g all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cup 28g cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon instant espresso powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup plus 1 tbsp 125g salted butter, softened
- ½ cup 110g packed dark brown sugar
- ⅓ cup 65g granulated sugar
- 1 large egg at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon 5ml pure vanilla extract
- ¾ cup dark chocolate, chopped
- ¾ cup milk chocolate with hazelnuts, chopped or chopped roasted hazelnuts
- Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, espresso powder and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to blend evenly.
- Combine butter with both sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use a hand mixer and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes until slightly fluffy and lightened in colour by a shade. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl a few times during mixing. Beat in egg and vanilla until well combined. Add dry ingredients and mix on low until it just begins to incorporate then fold in the chocolate chunks until the dough is evenly combined. Turn the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and wrap well. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper If chilling the dough overnight, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to soften slightly so it is easier to scoop.
- Scoop up about 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into smooth balls. Place onto prepared baking sheets spacing them 2 inches apart and flatten slightly. Place a few extra chocolate chunks on top of each dough ball if desired. Bake for 9-11 minutes until the bottoms are evenly browned and the tops are cracked but they are still soft in the middle. Transfer to a rack and let cookies cool on trays for 3 minutes before transferring individually to the rack to finish cooling.