Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies

My valentine packages have been mailed. While I’m not entirely satisfied with the way they turned out, I’m sure they’ll be gobbled up anyhow. The dishes I decided on were chocolate chip hazelnut cookies, Jamaican banana bread, and spicy mixed nuts.

Anytime I try to cook for someone other then Alex the results are always sub par. I feel like I am doomed in that sense. Take last night for example; I decided to make spicy black bean- sweet potato burritos from the Definitely Not Martha blog sight. (This is a new blog I just discovered and am completely enthralled by. The writing is brilliant and entertaining and her recipes all sound do-able and delicious.) Anyhow, the dish DID turn out delicious and I would have been proud to serve it to just about anyone. Yet the day before when one of Alex’s friends came to dinner I made a Mediterranean vegetable pizza with whole wheat dough and of course, it burnt. The same thing happens whenever my parents come. I can be on a roll with wonderful dinners but somehow the night they arrive, after so much careful prep and planning, the dinner is just…. Eh…… edible. Well anyhow this is the way I feel about my valentine packages. Just “eh.” Maybe it’s all those high hopes.

Hazelnut cookies are one thing I do recommend. I’ve made them before and every time I do, they receive rave reviews. The recipe I use is from Giada’s Family Style Dinners Cookbook, and everything about it is divine. While I must say that these are not “pretty” cookies, they are tasty, and the aroma and texture of the roasted hazelnuts blends perfectly with oozing bittersweet chocolate. If you want something to serve alongside tea or coffee, this is it.

Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Cookies:

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (not instant)
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup unsalted butter (softened)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract (Trader Joe's bourbon blend is delicious)
1 cup hazelnuts (slow roasted, husked, & chopped)
1 (12 ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips

1.) Preheat oven to 325F.
2.) Finely chop oats in food processor. Transfer the oats to a medium bowl.
Mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3.) Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars in a large bowl until fluffy.
Beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.
Add hazelnuts, and chocolate chips.
4.) Drop the dough onto prepared baking sheers by rounded tablespoonful, spacing them 1 inch apart.
(Don't flatten the dough.)
Bake until the cookies are golden, for fifteen minutes.
5.) Cool the cookies on a baking sheet for five minutes
transfer them to a cooling rack and cool completely.

Since I was so unsatisfied with the others, I’m not going to include those recipes. However, I have to say that the idea behind the banana bread is a good one. Rum, coconut, and lime are three ingredients that belong together. Therefore, the reason this dish turned out bad isn’t the “Jamaican” component. It’s the “banana bread.” The base just was not good. The texture was really rubbery and lacking sweetness.

If I made it again, (and I plan to) I’d use the recipe that I wrote up before and give it a Caribbean twist.

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