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Grandma Holmquist's Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

by Melissa Trainer

A good recipe and great ingredients withstand time.

I was reminded of this on Sunday evening. It was hot and steamy in my little Seattle kitchen, and I was decidedly cranky. I was anticipating a busy Monday ahead and wanted something small, delicious, sweet and easy.

I needed to soothe the transition from Sunday to Monday. Pie? Nah...too time-consuming. Dinner? Well, my husband was in charge of that. So...I mulled my options and within minutes I was digging through my recipe box looking for an oldie but a goodie: Grandma Holmquist's Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I first discovered these gems when I visited the Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards in 1997, and Grandma Holmquist invited me into her farmhouse kitchen. She had baked a batch of these classics earlier in the day and handed me one straight from the cookie jar. She said she'd been making them for years and told me with a smile that she couldn't keep the jar full when her farm clan was busy. Indeed. they are simple, easy and superb. And, the flagship ingredient-DuChilly hazelnuts-are the winning ticket.

Unlike other more run of the mill Pacific Northwest hazelnuts which are round and need to be skinned before using in recipes, the Du Chilly is a little-known heirloom variety. Elongated in shape and hard to harvest, they lack the bitterness of other varieties and are unique because they don't require any tedious rubbing and skinning before using. Simply toast, chop and add.

I eventually wrote about the farm and published the recipe in The Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine that year, but the recipe became one that I made regularly when my kids were little. Aside from the amazing hazelnut flavor thanks to the toasted and chopped hazelnuts, the dough is ridiculously easy to crank out...it is oil based and can be stirred up in one bowl. Frankly, it was the easiest way for me to crank up a batch of delicious homemade cookies while little kids cruising around at my feet!

So, next time you are craving a little chocolate, a little hazelnut, something yummy, something easy...thank Grandma Holmquist for this one! She was on to a good thing years ago!

(Melissa A. Trainer is a Seattle-based food and travel writer specializing in topics and products related to food, kitchenware, and the culinary arts.)

Yield: 48 Cookies

  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 cup canola or Wesson oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2½ cups flour
  • 1 cup chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl beat eggs well. Add sugars and beat until well blended. Add oil and vanilla. Stir well to combine

Sift in dry ingredients and add hazelnuts and chocolate chips.

Drop by rounded tablespoons onto cookie sheets and bake in batches in the middle of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned.

Spiced Chocolate, Spelt and Hazelnut Crackle Cookies
  • 120g butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 110g castor sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 125g spelt flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100g chocolate chips (70 per cent cocoa solids) or 100g dark cooking chocolate, cut into roughly ½ cm pieces
  • 50g mashed ripe banana (about ½ small banana)
  • 170g roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped (but not powdery)
  • 100g icing sugar, sifted
  1. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg until incorporated.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder, mixed spice and salt into a bowl, then add to the butter mixture. Mix on a low speed for about 15 seconds, add the chocolate chips and banana, and continue to mix until combined. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and transfer to the fridge for at least 1 hour (and up to 2 days) to firm up.
  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 180C (170C fan-forced) and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  4. Place the hazelnut in a medium bowl, and the sifted icing sugar in a separate bowl. Remove the dough from the fridge and use an ice-cream scoop (or your hands) to form balls of about 3cm diameter, roughly 20g each. Roll the balls in the hazelnut so that they are completely coated and press the nuts in so that they stick. Then roll balls in the sugar so they are thickly coated all over. Place on the lined baking tray spaced 2cm to 3cm apart, then use your palm to flatten the cookies to 1cm thick.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes if you like a slightly gooey centre, and 12 minutes for a crunchier cookie. Remove from oven and cool on the tray for 10 minutes before gently transferring to a wire rack or plate. The cookies are best eaten on the day they are made, although will keep for up to 2 days.
Tip: Once the uncooked dough balls have been coated in the hazelnut and icing sugar, they can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. You can bake them from frozen, just add a minute or two to the baking time.

Meringue Hazelnut Drops
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup toasted ground hazelnuts
Beat egg whites in small bowl until soft peaks form; gradually add sugar 2 tsp. at a time until stiff peaks form. Fold in 1 cup hazelnuts. Drop by tsp. on greased baking sheet. Top each with toasted hazelnut; sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes. May dust with sugar.

Bruschetta with Tomato, Bacon, Arugula and Hazelnuts

Yield: 8 generous appetizers
  • 8 (½-inch thick) slices good-quality crusty Italian-style bread
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
  • 3 ripe medium-sized tomatoes, chopped and drained
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 slices bacon, fried, drained, and minced
  • ¼ cup fresh arugula, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup crushed roasted and hazelnuts
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About ½ cup crumbled Rogue Creamery Oregon Blue cheese
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Grill or toast the bread until nicely browned on both sides. Rub with the cut garlic.

About 10 minutes before serving, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, bacon, arugula, and hazelnuts in a small bowl. Toss gently and season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

To serve, spoon the tomato mixture onto the grilled bread. Top each serving with a portion of the Oregon Blue, and then drizzle on a bit of the balsamic vinegar. Place the slices onto a hot grill (or into a hot oven) and cook just until the blue cheese begins to melt. Serve immediately.

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Lynden, WA
(360) 988-9240

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