Hazelnut Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Baci di Dama)

I’m a really lazy cook. If I’m going to make dinner, I want the easiest recipe possible. The fewer the ingredients and lighter the prep, the better.

But baking…well, that’s a different story. I am game to make whatever looks delicious, even if that means dozens of ingredients or dozens of steps.

IMG_3517Take these Baci di Dama. Baci di Dama are hazelnut sandwich cookies with a rich chocolate ganache filling. The steps are pretty simple… but there are a lot of steps! You have to toast hazelnuts, make dough, make a filling, assemble. But I promise the effort is worth it. The cookies are near-crumbly in texture, with a wonderful nutty flavor. When you chomp down you get a satisfying bite of hazelnut, complemented by the smooth ganache.

I stumbled on this recipe when I was looking for something to bring to a birthday party. I’d asked my friend to name her top 5 flavors, and hazelnut made the cut. I love hazelnut, but I’d only ever baked with it in Nutella form. Clearly I’ve been missing out! I loved how these turned out, and am glad I gave them a try.

IMG_3507I’d do a couple small tweaks if I baked these again. First off: I’d use bittersweet or dark chocolate for the filling rather than semisweet. It tasted good, but I think a stronger chocolate would boost the flavor. And second: I ground my hazelnuts for just a tad too long, so I basically ended up with hazelnut butter. I was a little nervous about whether my dough would turn out ok! It did, but still…I’d try to do it right next time 🙂  

Hazelnut Chocolate Sandwich Cookies (Baci di Dama)

Original recipe: As Easy As Apple Pie. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~20, but your yield will depend on how big you make the cookies

Suggested equipment: Food processor, mixer

Total Time: ~3 hours, but that involves a lot of waiting for things to chill!

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

For your dough:

  • 2/3 cups hazelnuts, toasted and skinned
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3.5 ounces unsalted butter cut into small cubes, at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped into bits

Directions

Prep your hazelnuts

  1. Throw your hazelnuts onto a baking sheet
  2. Toast the hazelnuts at 320F until they’re a golden brown color. This took me around 15 minutes. Pay close attention, because you don’t want burned nuts!
  3. Take your hazelnuts out of the oven, and rub them until the skins come off. This might take a bit of elbow grease!
  4. Let the hazelnuts cool completely before moving onto your next step

Make your cookie dough

  1. Put the cooled hazelnuts into your food processor, and pulse the processor until the nuts resemble sand. This is where I messed up, and my nuts ended up more like a butter consistency. Don’t be like me 🙂
  2. Move the hazelnuts to a bowl, and mix in your flour, butter and sugar. You want to mix the ingredients until the butter is evenly dispersed throughout the bowl of dough, and your dough is smooth
  3. Divide your dough into 4 pieces and roll each piece into a log
  4. Place the logs on a baking sheet, and stick it in your fridge
  5. Chill the dough for an hour

Make your dough balls

  1. Take one dough log out of the fridge, but leave the rest in the fridge until you’re ready to use them so they stay cold
  2. Cut equal-sized pieces from your log, and roll them into tiny balls between the palms of your hands. Since these are sandwich cookies, it’s important to keep your sizing consistent! The original recipe writer suggested making your balls about 8 oz of dough each
  3. Place your dough balls on a greased or lined cookie sheet, then move onto the next log of dough
  4. Put your dough balls back in the fridge for another hour

Bake your cookies 

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 320F
  2. Bake your dough balls for 15-20 minutes. Take them out when they’re set to the touch, and a light golden color. Mine took closer to 20 minutes
  3. Let the cookies cool completely before you fill them

Fill your cookies 

  1. Melt your chocolate until it’s smooth
  2. Place a dollop of chocolate on one cookie, and place another cookie on top. Press the two together, and you have a sandwich!
  3. Let the cookies firm up on a cooling rack for a bit so your chocolate sets

And finally: ENJOY! These will last in an airtight cotnainer for about a week, but I doubt they’ll make it that long!

Mint Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a friend who’s pretty passionate about Oreos. He tries every flavor he can get his hands on, from limited editions (like Peep Oreos) to international releases (like Strawberry Cheesecake). He’s my go-to source for flavor intel, and for recipe scheming, too.

Some of my Oreo experiments haven’t turned out very well. Certain flavors hold up better in baking than others. I had a string of failed attempts to bake with the Cookie Dough Oreos last fall: the Oreo layers kept dissolving in the oven, whether I stuffed them into brownies or cookies. Meanwhile, Halloween Oreos were a perfect baking ingredient.

This Mint Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe plays off the classic mint chocolate flavor combo, with a bunch of added texture. Mint Oreos are one of my all-time favorites, and I just knew they’d taste good in a dark chocolate chip cookie. I picked one of my go-to chocolate chip cookie doughs, from Jenny over at Picky Palate. It’s an incredibly flavorful base and holds up really nicely in the oven. I’ve used it for a range of recipes over the years, from Thin Mint-Stuffed Cookies to brownie-stuffed cookies.

These cookies are an incredible flavor explosion of mint, buttery dough and chocolate. During Girl Scout cookie season, you could swap some Thin Mints in there. This is also a great recipe for some St. Patrick’s Day fun with the little hints of green popping out of every cookie!

Mint Oreo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Original recipe: The dough and technique came from Picky Palate and I just swapped a few things around. I’ve also rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: ~36 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: ~13 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1.5 cups crushed Mint Oreos (I broke each Oreo into ~4 pieces. This creme gets super messy, but it will taste great!)

Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Use your mixer to beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until it’s light and fluffy
  3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, then beat again until it’s well combined
  4. Use a separate mixing bowl to combine your flour, salt and baking soda
  5. Slowly add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Make sure to use a spatula and scrap the sides of the bowl from time to time–sometimes dry ingredients like to hide at the bottom, and then they don’t get incorporated properly!
  6. Use a wooden spoon to mix in the chocolate chips and Oreo bits. I switched to a spoon at this point because the dough got pretty tough, and it was just easier than keeping it in the mixer
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  8. Shape your cookies to your preferred size. I eyeball mine vs. using a scoop
  9. Bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine were perfect at 13 minutes
  10. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a rack to cool completely

 

Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies

There’s something so delightful about cut out cookies. The mere act of using a cookie cutter gives cookies a little something extra–a dash of personality, if you will. I always want to buy cookie cutters, but tell myself it’s a bad idea since my kitchen is already crammed to the brim. For now, I own exactly two cutters: a heart and a bow, both pilfered from my mom. Since Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time to take out my cutters and whip up some cut out cookies.

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I’ve tried several cut out recipes over the years, including one that I tracked down from my 5th grade teacher. The recipe I’m sharing today is pretty standard. They’re basically sugar cookies, but sour cream adds moisture and makes the cookies especially soft and chewy. This frosting is pretty sweet, so I used a thin layer rather than slathering it on thick. You could swap in a different frosting, of course…. I won’t tattle.

Make sure to allow at least six hours for your dough to chill before you bake. The recipe says you can freeze unfrosted cookies, but I preferred these fresh out of the oven. It seemed like something changed texturally when I froze extra cookies.

You can obviously use any cutter you’d like, for any occasion. I especially loved my heart cookies (the bows were a little puffier than I expected). They’re perfect for school parties, your Valentine… or a little self-love for yourself.

Sour Cream Cut Out Cookies

Original recipe: Chocolate with Grace. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary.

Yield: About 50 cookies (original recipe says 60 but it obviously depends on your cookie cutter)

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 2 hours to make the cookies, at least 6 hours to chill the dough 

Cook Time: ~12 minutes

Ingredients

Cookies

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sour cream

Frosting

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 2-4 tsp milk or heavy cream, at room temperature

Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy
  2. Beat in the eggs and vanilla
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk your flour, salt and baking soda
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, alternating each dry addition with some of your sour cream. This is when things got messy, so I recommend using a mixer guard if you have one
  5. Stir the ingredients until they’re fully combined
  6. Chill your dough at least 6 hours–overnight is better if you can!

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 325F
  2. On a well-floured surface, roll out your dough to about 1/3 inch thick. Make sure to keep things floured up, since this is a pretty sticky dough. Keep extra dough in the fridge until you’re ready for it
  3. Cut out your cookies, and place them on a lined cookie sheet
  4. Bake your cookies 9-14 minutes. Bake time will depend on your cutters: my hearts baked quicker than my bows. The cookies will still be a little pale when they’re done, so be careful not to overbake
  5. Let the cookies cool for a minute on the sheet, then remove them to a rack so they cool all the way

Frost your cookies 

  1. Beat your butter 2-3 minutes, until it’s fluffy
  2. Beat in the powdered sugar and vanilla, plus enough milk or cream to achieve your desired consistency. I used two teaspoons of milk
  3. You can tint your frosting if you’d like, but I chose not to
  4. Frost your cookies and decorate as you’d like!

Cookie Swap Tips and Tricks

Cookie swaps are one of my favorite parts of the holiday season. What’s better than seeing friends and eating cookies at the same time? I’ve hosted a few cookie exchanges over the years, and hope the tradition continues. But this isn’t Martha Stewart’s cookie swap: my take on this classic event is light on rules, and heavy on flexibility.

I host a few potluck-like events every year and my approach is pretty much always the same. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to come, enjoy themselves and want to come again. I’d rather someone show up to my party than worry about bringing the right dish for a theme, or following the right rules for cookies. So, I keep it simple.

Here are my tips for a fun holiday exchange with less stress… but lots of dessert.

It’s about nibbling, not gifting: Martha tells you to bring a dozen cookies per swap attendee so they can take home lots of cookies, and maybe even re-gift them later. That’s a lot of batches! Instead, I tell people to simply bring 1 batch of whatever they decide to bake, regardless of the yield. Trust me: there are always enough cookies to go around. And there are always extra cookies, too, which usually end up at my office the following Monday (you’re so welcome, team!).

old-cookie-swapMake it easy to contribute: I make sure to clarify that any kind of treat will do: homemade, semi-homemade or even purchased. No snobbery allowed! For some people, this is the only time they bake all year and they get really excited. Other people think baking sounds terrible, or they just don’t have the time– and I want them to come, too.

Label your goods: I put out paper so people can label their cookies. I don’t write out the full ingredient list, but of course you could. I do write if something is allergen-free, though, so those people know what’s safe to eat. This year we had a couple people who don’t eat dairy so I made these rosemary chocolate chip cookies with dairy-free chocolate, and labeled the batch “dairy free.”

swap-meat

Tons of cookies… and meat

Ask some people to NOT bring cookies: My first year hosting a swap, I only bought one party-sized bag of Chex Mix to accompany all the cookies. Rookie mistake! You need to have some savory snacks on hand to balance all the sweetness. This year we specifically asked people to sign up for savory things to make sure we had a good mix–and people brought everything from jicama to hummus.

Help people get their cookies home: I’ve been providing baggies so people can take cookies home, but I do think Martha is right here, and boxes are better. Next year I’ll get boxes so the cookies aren’t smushed in transit.

Eat lots of cookies: This is obviously the most important rule! You don’t have to eat a full cookie of every single type. We usually end up cutting cookies into pieces and sharing them so we can try more varieties.

And one extra tip if you plan to bake a lot–plan, plan plan: Whenever I host an event, I contribute a lot of food. I made 5 different recipes for this year’s cookie exchange, so I carefully planned ahead. I am super organized about it, and think through the right order of operations  based on things like equipment needed, time to bake, prep needs, etc. I also look at which doughs have to chill, which cookies can be made the night before, etc.

Here are the recipes I made for this year’s cookie exchange, plus some past favorites:

And if you want even more recipe ideas, check out my Cookie Swap Season board.

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This year’s bounty

Nutella-Stuffed Gingersnaps

This is my all-time favorite gingersnap recipe. Yup, I said it: I’m playing favorites.

img_2578I’ve made many ginger cookies over the years, but this one takes the proverbial cake (cookie cake, maybe?). Because when it comes to gingersnaps, I like ’em spicy. And thanks to a generous dose of fresh ginger, this gingersnap gives a good bit of bite in every, well, bite. Fresh ginger, cloves and cinnamon work together for a truly excellent dough. Then you roll these cookies in sugar and ground ginger so they get a nice crackly top.

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Check out that Nutella center!

All that goodness… and we haven’t even talked about the Nutella middles yet! The gingersnap dough would be great on its own, but Broma Bakery blogger Sarah didn’t stop there: she also stuffed the dough with balls of Nutella. So every time you chomp into a cookie, you get your spicy ginger base and then a surprise wallop of hazelnut, chocolatey goodness.

Now, if you read this blog regularly, you know I love stuffing cookies. I’ve stuffed cookie butter, caramelsThin Mints–all winners! And yet, this Nutella-Stuffed Gingersnap is one of my favorite cookies of 2016. I brought these to a cookie swap last week, and my friends commented that it’s an unusual combo, but just makes so much sense when you think about it. So why don’t you think about it for a minute… then race to the store for some fresh ginger, and make these cookies!

Make sure to follow the step where you freeze your Nutella for a bit. This makes it much easier to stuff the cookies, since room temp Nutella can be a nightmare to work with. You can play around with the size of Nutella balls to achieve your desired cookie/Nutella ratio.

One last tip: If you have extra ginger when you’re done with these, go make these Chocolate Ginger Cookies next. You’ll be the hit of your next cookie exchange!

Nutella-Stuffed Gingersnaps

Original recipe: Broma Bakery. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 18 cookies if you use 1/2 tablespoon of Nutella per cookie. Depending on your cookie/Nutella ratio, you’ll get a different number of cookies out of this. 

Total Time: 50 minutes, including the time to freeze your Nutella balls

Cook Time: 9-10 minutes 

Ingredients

Dough 

  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp Nutella
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup dark molasses
  • 1 large egg at room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp chopped, peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cloves

Topping 

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger

Instructions 

Prep your Nutella 

Line a flat plate with parchment paper. Scoop 1/2 tablespoon balls of Nutella onto the cookie sheet, squishing down each ball a bit so it’s a little flatter. Repeat until you’re out of Nutella. Put your plate in the freezer at least 15 minutes, until the balls are fully firm.

Make your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Prep your ginger: peel it, then chop it into tiny bits and measure it out
  3. In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar, molasses, egg, vanilla and fresh ginger
  4. Use a separate bowl to mix your flour, baking soda, cinnamon, salt and cloves
  5. Fold your dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon until combine
  6. Take out your plate of Nutella balls, and let’s start stuffing!
  7. Scoop out about an ounce of dough and break it apart into two halves, then put the Nutella ball inside. Pinch around the edges so the Nutella is totally sealed in the middle. You might need to “patch” your dough with additional dough to get the Nutella totally sealed in there. Once it’s sealed, roll it in your hands a little to make sure it’s round. Then, place the dough mound on your cookie sheet and press down flatten it slightly. Each mound should be about 3/4 inch thick
  8. Repeat this process until you’re out of Nutella or dough… whichever comes first. I got 18 cookies, but had a couple extra Nutella balls because of the dough/Nutella ratio
  9. Mix together your sugar and ground ginger topping
  10. Dip each flattened cookie into the coating, then place it back on your prepared baking sheet. Try to do 1 cookie sheet at a time so your cookies crack properly
  11. Bake each sheet of cookies for 9-10 minutes. Mine took 9. Watch your bake time so the cookies stay soft!

Straight out of the oven, the Nutella is warm and gooey. These keep really well–the Nutella firms up a bit over time, but you can always pop it back in the microwave for a gooey center. These also freeze nicely so you can keep a few around for later!

I’ll share more cookie ideas next week, but you can check out my Cookie Swap Season Pinterest board in the meantime!

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

This easy recipe puts a pumpkin spice twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie. The recipe calls for a rather standard list of ingredients–with one very important, very notable exception. What’s that, you say? Why, Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter of course.

I’m obsessed with Trader Joe’s pumpkin-flavored cookie butter because it combines so many wonderful things: nutmeg, pumpkin and little bits of cookie, to name a few. In this recipe, the cookie butter gets mixed right into your cookie dough. It adds a really satisfying complexity with nuanced flavors.This is a pretty cakey chocolate chip cookie, so the insides are soft and delightful. Like most things “pumpkin spice,” you’ll taste the cookie butter’s spice mix more than its pumpkin.

img_2396I’ve baked up many cookie butter recipes in the last couple years, from Cookie Butter-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies to Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Blondies. I’ll take cookie butter any way you want to serve it… but I definitely prefer using it in base doughs rather than using it as a filling. It’s an easy way to amp up the flavor in simple recipes!

For these Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers, I started with a recipe for Biscoff cookies, and simply swapped in the seasonal cookie butter flavor. I bet these would be delicious with standard cookie butter, too! You could try that same trick with other cookie butter recipes, like these Cookie Butter Bars with Nutella Swirls.

Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter Chippers

Original recipe: Sally’s Baking Addiction, with a cookie butter flavor swap. I’ve written things a bit and added commentary, too. 

Yield: 20 cookies 

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 45 minutes for the recipe, total of 4 hours including chill time 

Cook Time: 9 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar (you can swap in dark if you need to)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Cookie Butter
  • 2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Step by Step Directions

Make your dough 

  1. Use your mixer to beat the butter for a minute on medium speed until it’s smooth and creamy
  2. Add your granulated sugar and brown sugar, then beat the mixture on medium-high until it’s fluffy and light in color
  3. Beat in the egg, extra egg yolk and vanilla on high speed
  4. Beat in the cookie butter until your entire mixture is completely combined
  5. Use a separate bowl to whisk the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt until combined
  6. Turn your mixer to low speed, then slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients
  7. Switch the mixer to high speed to beat in your chocolate chips
  8. Cover your dough tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and chill for at least 3 hours, and up to 3 days. Chilling gives the dough great flavor, so don’t skip this step. You can also freeze dough balls if you want to bake the cookies later on

Bake your cookies 

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. Let your dough sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes so it’s easier to scoop into balls
  3. Start scooping doughs of ball onto your lined baking sheets
  4. Bake the cookies 9-10 minutes (mine took 9 minutes on the dot!). They’ll look pretty undone in the centers and really soft-but they’ll finish firming up as they cool, so don’t worry about it!
  5. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on their baking sheets, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely

These will keep for up to a week if you store them in a covered container, or in your fridge.

 

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

There are only two ways I’ll eat green apples: baked into something delicious, or smothered in peanut butter. This recipe checks both boxes in one delightful cookie.

img_2179-1These cookies have an oatmeal peanut butter base that’s nutty and satisfying. You mix in little chunks of apple, which soften up in the oven. Cinnamon and allspice add the perfect hint of spice, a bit like what you’d find in apple pie. It’s a sweet, nutty, hearty combination, with a complementary mix of flavors in every bite. I picked this recipe to use up the last of my giant bag of Granny Smiths. Now that I’ve tried these cookies, though, I think the reverse is going to happen: I’ll start buying green apples just to make another batch of Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

Since these cookies use fresh apple, they’re best eaten the day you make them. The apples get mushy over time and make your cookies a bit mushy. These still got rave reviews for flavor on Day 2, but the texture was much better on Day 1. By the time I put these out for the lunch crowd at my office, they’d already lost their shape and were falling into soggy pieces. Very delicious, very peanut buttery pieces.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Apple Cookies

Original recipe: Two Peas and their Pod. I’ve rewritten things a bit and added commentary. 

Yield: 20 cookies

Suggested equipment: Mixer

Total Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 11 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 cup diced apple, peeled

Step by Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together your flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice and salt
  3. Use your mixer to beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together until it’s smooth and creamy
  4. Add in your peanut butter and mix it all again until it’s smooth
  5. Add your egg and vanilla, then mix the dough again
  6. Turn your mixer to “low” and add in the flour mixture bit by bit. Mix until it’s just combined
  7. Stir in your oats and apples by hand with a spoon
  8. Roll the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place them on a lined cookie sheet. Make sure to bake the dough right away–if you let it sit out, it will get really runny because the apples add moisture!
  9. Bake the cookies 11-12 minutes, or until light and golden brown around the edges
  10. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Make sure they’re actually, really, truly cool before you try moving them again… or else they will fall apart.