As a people, we have spent a lot of time pursuing the perfect chocolate chip cookie—making our dough days in advance, squishing and banging our hatchling cookies on the counter, everything that went on over here. I’m not immune to any of this.
But instead of tinkering with the established protocol—cream butter and sugar, blop in eggs, add the dry goods and chips—making an already-great thing greater by making it more complicated, another perhaps more rewarding approach is to toss out everything and start over completely.
Nik Sharma’s chocolate chip cookie work is like this. The force behind the blog A Brown Table and the year’s most talked-about cookbook Season, Sharma takes a kernel of an idea and—with a curious mind for ingredients, a welcoming palate, and a scientist’s inclinations—just runs with it, protocol be damned.
This week’s Genius Recipe began with Sharma’s affection for Nutella—the wonders of which he discovered after moving from Bombay to Cincinnati for grad school—and it ends with a streamlined one-bowl, crisp-chewy cookie that happens to be gluten-free. It tastes both everything and nothing like your perfect chocolate chip.
Starting from a base of hazelnut (flour) and bittersweet chocolate (chopped)—the classic Nutella twosome—he found no need to add extra flours, nor much else at all.
There’s a good amount of deep brown sugar (Sharma prefers jaggery or muscovado), a single egg, a couple tablespoons of melted butter, and a little baking soda and powder, all of which bring just enough moisture and leavening to make the dough cookie-like—and can all be stirred together with a wooden spoon.
The rest is all seasoning, which is where these cookies go from impressive to remarkable: chopped crystallized ginger for spice and chew, black pepper for still more heat, and hazelnut extract to really drive the Nutella memories home. (He offers vanilla as a substitute, but the hazelnut is well worth adding to your pantry.)
As he does with all cookies, Sharma also freezes the dough for ten minutes or preferably longer, to draw out all the flavors and render the cookies crispier. It’s the one bit of advanced technique these perfect cookies will ask of you, and you won’t wonder for a second if it was worth it.
• 2 cups (165g) hazelnut meal or flour (see note below)
• 1 cup (200g) packed jaggery or muscovado sugar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (see note below)
• 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
• 1 large egg, lightly beaten
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
• 1 teaspoon hazelnut extract or vanilla extract
• 1/2cup (75g) chopped bittersweet chocolate (70%)
• 1/3cup (55g) chopped crystallized ginger
See the full recipe on Food52.
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