I recently discussed how I’m comfortable enough with my baking skills to make substitutions in recipes in a somewhat ‘willy nilly’ fashion, changing aspects of a recipe the very first time I encounter it. Even with this level of confidence in the kitchen, there is still something that… frightens me.
I don’t mean like.. replacing walnuts with pecans. I mean having an idea for something delicious pop into your head with no real recipe and saying..
Yes. I will make that.
This is a whole other level that I do not generally have the confidence for. But I had an idea and it involved nutella. So I had to make it.
I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes lately for “filled” cookies. Cookies filled with peanut butter, others with sticky caramel centers. It made me realize the obvious: Nutella would taste fantastic in the middle of a cookie. I already spread most of the cookies I eat with the chocolate-hazelnutty goodness, so filling the cookies with it would save me an extra step.
I had concerns though as nutella is noticeably less thick than peanut butter and had images in my head of nutella oozing every which way while I tried to form cookie dough around it.
So I put nutella in my fridge.
You’re not supposed to put nutella in your fridge because it hardens and becomes completely unspreadable. I figured this transformation would be perfect for forming it into balls.
This is where my experimenting gets troubling.
You make a guess as to how something’s going to work, and… it doesn’t quite pan out. The nutella was certainly hard when it came out of the fridge, but the moment I tried to mold it, it just got all over my hands. It became normal oozey nutella wherever my hands touched it, with a stiff, cold center.
So I just stuffed hard, cold, weird shaped lumps of nutella into my cookies. As the evening of baking went on, the nutella returned to a softer state, and was actually easier to stuff the cookies with.
The more you know.
So the recipe written out below isn’t the way I made the cookies. There’s no putting a jar of nutella in your fridge beforehand and no awkward carving out chunks of hard nutella from a cold jar. There’s just forming cookie dough into a cup shape around soft, gooey nutella, and topping it with another piece of dough for minimal nutella squishing.
Experiments are scary and can often go awry in one way or another. But even if that happens, you could still save it and push through to the end.
And then maybe you’ll get delicious hazelnutty cookies with creamy nutella centers out of it.
I could be brave for that.
Nutella Filled Hazelnut Cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup ground hazelnuts (approx. a heaping cup of whole hazelnuts)
- 1 13oz. jar of nutella
- 1/2-1 cup powdered sugar
If you want to grind your hazelnuts yourself, toast them in a 350° F oven for about 10 minutes until fragrant. Rub them in a kitchen towel to loosen them from their skins. Grind the cooled, skinned hazelnuts in a food processor for a small, even grind, watching carefully so you don’t accidentally grind it into hazelnut butter. Some larger chunks of hazelnut are fine, but nothing bigger than popcorn kernel (and even that is a tooouch large.)
- Preheat your oven to 350° F
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar in a large bowl until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in vanilla.
- Blend in flour and ground hazelnuts until combined.
- Scoop heaping tablespoons of dough and split in half. Flatten both halves into thin discs.
- Scoop a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of nutella and, with the help of another spoon, place it into the center of one of the discs. Do your best the keep the nutella in one small area. Form the disc into a cup shape around the mound of nutella. Top the cup shape with the other disc, gently pressing the edge of the other disc around the cup form to seal it shut. Lightly roll the whole mass in the palms of your hands to smooth it out into a ball. (See the series of images above as a visual aid of what I’m asking you to do here.)
- Spacing cookies approx. an inch and a half apart on a cookie sheet, bake them in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cookies are set, but not browned. Meanwhile, place 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a large zip-top bag. Let baked cookies cool on cookie sheet until…
- When the cookies are no longer hot to the touch but still warm (around 10 minutes) take each cookie and roll it around in the powdered sugar in the bag until coated. Finish cooling cookie on a cooling rack.
Makes approx. 30 cookies