When Edouard Bobin, the co-owner of one of the sweetest small bistros in Paris, Le Pantruche, said he would give me the recipe for his favorite hazelnut cookie, I knew the minute I read the one-word title, Cookies, that chocolate chips would be involved. See the word "cookies" (or the words "les cookies") in France, as you do nowadays in glossy magazines, modern bakeshops and trendy cafés, and it's a pretty risk-free bet that the sweet will turn out to be a chipper. If there are nuts, they may be hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts or macadamias; there may even be a few M&M's-type candies pressed into the dough; and the chocolate can be any kind, the basic cookie is always a play on the American chocolate chip.
And so it was with Edouard's cookies. In fact, as I looked at the recipe, I thought it was the standard back-of-the-bag recipe. It had the American mix of baking powder and baking soda (the French mostly use packets with the two leavening agents already combined), the same amount of chocolate chips as you get in a U.S. bag and the same number of eggs as in the classic American recipe. I'd hoped for something new, and I didn't think this was going to be it.
But I hadn't noticed a couple of important differences: Edouard called for almost half again as much flour (by weight) as our classic recipe, and the nuts were ground not chopped, acting like even more flour. The cookies were chubby and chewy and just a little soft at the center--altogether great. If this is what the French think of as American cookies, we Americans can be proud.
- 3 1/2 cups (476 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 sticks (8 ounces; 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 grams) sugar
- 1 cup (200 grams) packed light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 12 ounces (340 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 2 cups chocolate chips)
- 1 1/2 cups (150 grams) hazelnut or almond flour
Whisk the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a medium bowl.
Working in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute, until smooth. Add both sugars and beat for another 2 minutes or so, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 4 or 5 additions, mixing only until each addition is just incorporated. (Because you're going to add more ingredients after the flour, it's good not to be too thorough.) Still on low speed, mix in the chocolate and nut flour.
Divide the dough in half, wrap each piece airtight in plastic film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Or, if it's more convenient for you, you can scoop the dough now and freeze it in balls. You won't need to defrost the cookies, but you will need to bake them a little longer.)
When you're ready to bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Edouard says to scoop the dough into mounds the size of golf balls. A medium cookie scoop with a capacity of 1 1/2 tablespoons is just right here, but you can also spoon the dough out using a rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie. Place the dough on the lined sheets, about 2 inches apart.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8 minutes and then, using a metal spatula, gently press each mound down just a little; rotate the baking sheet. Bake for another 7 minutes or so, until the cookies are pale brown. They'll still be slightly soft in the center, but that's fine--they'll firm as they cool. Pull the sheet from the oven and allow the cookies to rest for 1 minute, then, using a wide metal spatula, carefully transfer them to racks to cool to room temperature.
Repeat with the remainder of the dough, always using a cool baking sheet.
Serving: The cookies are good warm or at room temperature; good with coffee, good with tea and terrific with milk (a beverage I've never seen a grown French person sip); and even good with Armagnac.
Storing: The best way to maintain the cookies' chewiness is to store them in a zipper-lock plastic bag; they'll stay fresh for about 3 days. You can keep them longer, of course; just know that they'll get a little firmer as time passes. Or pack them in an airtight container and freeze them for up to 2 months.