Dark Chocolate, Walnut, and Smoked Sea Salt Cookies

Nothing says an interminable winter like making cookies. Here we are, almost halfway through March, and there's still about 4 feet of snow outside my window. Thanks again, polar vortex. But it does allow multiple consoling sessions via chocolate. And hey, if it just so happens to be chocolate mixed with salt, all wrapped up in a cookie, well, so much the better. You will not want for chocolate in this recipe. Oh, no sir. This is not a recipe where you hunt for the chocolate in your chocolate chip cookies. It will smack you upside the head with how much chocolate there is. As is only right.

And don't let that whole "smoked sea salt" thing scare you off. Regular old sea salt would obviously work just fine here. I just happened to have an entire handy jar of the smoked stuff, a culinary Christmas gift from many years past. And finally, after years of randomly sprinkling it on meats and whatnot, I finally had a recipe that called specifically for it. Sure, certain other substitutions were made (such as walnuts for pistachios). But the salt? Such deliciousness. But again, I repeat, if you don't happen to have a jar full of the stuff, regular ol' sea salt will certainly do the trick. Maybe it's ok if spring never comes, if I get to eat these cookies forever.

Yield: About 24 cookies if you make them small. I'm a big cookie person, so the recipe made about 15 for me.


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips

1 cup walnuts and/or pecans, coarsely chopped

smoked salt for topping


Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the egg and beat in for about 1 minute. Add vanilla extract and beat to incorporate.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Add the mixture all at once to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just incorporated. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and nuts.

Dollop or scoop cookie dough by the 2 tablespoonful onto prepared baking tins. Leave about 2 inches of room between each cookie. Sprinkle generously with smoked sea salt.

Bake cookies for 22 minutes, or until just golden brown. 

 Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will last, well wrapped at room temperature for up to 4 days

Pretzel Cookies

Because who doesn't like pretzels? This is an emended recipe from an emended recipe. The original dates from an old "Cooks Illustrated" which explains the crazy hard-boiled egg yolk addition. Apparently it lends a certain flakiness to the end result. Who's to know? The end result is delicious, flakiness or no. 

Yield: People are insisting these make 40+ cookies. Well, that's bullcrap. If you make cookies properly (as in, so that you're not making them for ants), you'll get about 15 from this recipe. But, hey, ants need cookies too. 


1 large egg, hard-boiled and cooled
10 tablespoons (140 grams or 1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (80 grams) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (this is halved from the original)
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams) rye flour (medium or white will work)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon water
4 teaspoons turbinado or clear sanding sugar


Place butter, sugar and salt in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Crack egg and peel shell. Separate yolk from white; add white to your next sandwich or egg salad. Press yolk through fine-mesh strainer and into mixer bowl with other ingredients. Beat mixture on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl and beater with spatula as needed. Add vanilla, mix until combined. Add flours and mix at low speed until just combined. Using rubber spatula or your hands, reach into bowl and knead dough a few times into a cohesive mass.

Shape the dough into a sort of log shape and place on parchment paper. Wrap tightly and chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes (or longer. Legend has it that the dough only improves the longer it's rested).

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Slice 1/4-inch off the chilled log and roll slice into a ball in the palm of your hands; this softens the dough. On a counter, roll ball into a 6-inch rope. Pick up each end of rope and fold turn it into the center, pressing it into a pretzel shape. Transfer to baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, placing cookies one inch apart on prepared sheets.

Brush each pretzel cookie with egg white wash, then sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake cookies until they have golden brown edges, about 13 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven but let firm up on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring cookies to cooling racks.

Do ahead: Cookies stored in an airtight container between sheets of waxed or parchment paper will keep for at least one week.


Although I have no idea where the name for these cookies comes from, the best way to describe them is like sugar cookies with a hug. Honestly, I have absolutely no idea what makes them taste so good. Take a sugar cookies and roll it in cinnamon sugar. Sounds good, absolutely. But no. They're delicious. Scrumtulescent, I believe would be the word for them. These are classic suburban cookies at their finest.

And they're perfect for baking when strangers come round. That is, when you're not sure whether the recipient likes chocolate or is allergic to nuts or one of the host of other maladies that strike chefs down everywhere. Granted, they won't be on a celiac's top ten list, but apart from them and the vegans, it's hard to find someone who won't like these.

And so for such classic Americana delicacies, there's no better place to turn than the institution that is The Joy of Cooking, now in its 3 billionth edition.

But honestly, if you make these once, you'll have the recipe memorized. It's just that easy. And because I insist on making everything complicated, I actually threw a little pumpkin pie spice into the mix as well (that is, a blend of allspice, cloves, and nutmeg). I'm not sure if it did anything, but with or without, these cookies are definite crowd-pleasers.


2 cups all purpose (or plain) flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
Optional: 2 tsp. Pumpkin pie spices (allspice, cloves, and nutmeg)

For cinnamon sugar topping
1/4 cup sugar
4 tsp. ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease or line 2 cookies sheets. Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a different bowl, beat the butter and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs and beat again.

Finally, stir in the flour mixture.

Now combine the sugar and cinnamon to make your topping. Shape the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls, roll in the cinnamon sugar, and arrange about 2 1/2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until the cookies are light golden brown on the edges, about 12- 14 minutes. Let stand to briefly, then remove to a rack to cool.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Chocolate-Dipped Cherry, Cranberry, and Hazelnut Biscotti

This recipe unfortunately indulges my culinary tendencies to throw the kitchen sink into every baking recipe I find. In my mind, if one added ingredient makes the whole thing better, why not add five extra ingredients? Combine that with the peculiar stocking strategies of Tesco and you come up with the above recipe. In my defense, I was originally planning to make this recipe with only cherries and hazelnuts. But then Tesco was out of cherries. So I went with cranberries. And THEN I discovered the glace cherry section. Oh my. Well, when it came down to deciding between the two, my logic was no match for my "kitchen sink" tendencies. And thus: chocolate, cherry, cranberry, hazelnut biscotti. Try saying that five times fast.

(from epicurious.com, via Bon Appetit, December 1998)


1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
 2 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 cups hazelnuts (about 4.5 ounces), toasted, husked, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup glace cherries
3/4 pounds bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
Unsweetened cocoa powder


Position 1 rack in center and 1 rack in top third of oven and preheat to 325°F. Using handheld electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in very large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs 1 at a time just until blended. Mix in orange peel, baking soda and salt. Add 3 cups flour, hazelnuts and dried cherries; stir until well blended. Add 1 1/2 cups flour, a little at a time, stirring until well incorporated.

Transfer dough to floured work surface. Divide into 2 equal pieces. Knead each piece until dough holds together well. Form each piece into 5-inch-long by 2-inch-wide log. Place the 2 logs on a large ungreased baking sheet, spacing about 3 inches apart (logs will spread during baking). Bake until logs are golden and feel firm when tops are gently pressed, switching and rotating baking sheets halfway through baking, about 55 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheets 15 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Using long wide spatula, transfer logs to cutting board. Using serrated knife, cut warm logs crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake biscotti 10 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until light golden, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to racks and cool completely.

Stir chocolate in large bowl set over saucepan of boiling water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Dip 1 cut side of each biscotti into melted chocolate to about 1/4-inch depth. Gently shake off excess chocolate. Place biscotti, chocolate side up, on baking sheets. Refrigerate until chocolate is firm, about 35 minutes. Dip pastry brush in cocoa, then lightly brush cocoa over chocolate on each biscotti. (Can be made ahead. Store in airtight containers up to 4 days, or wrap in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.)


How to explain the curiously British entity that is the hobnob? Well, we could get into the entire "cookie vs. biscuit vs. digestive" argument but that would take far too long and involve way too many footnotes. Needless to say, the "hobnob" is a type of British cookie that is a bit firmer to the touch and has substantially more bite than traditional American cookies. I would on one hand be tempted to call them oatmealy (as there is a significant amount of oatmeal in them) but that wouldn't capture the essence of the hobnob.

And prior to the discovery of this recipe, the hobnob was also something I thought you could only find in the store. Like Oreos. No one actually made hobnobs. And there again, I was wrong. My roommate showed me this recipe, courteously passed on to her through the wonder that is online recipe swapping. The original website for it is here, delightfully fun and maintained by people who appear to be serious advocates of tea parties. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Now I have to apologize for my frequent (and seemingly random) switches between American and British measurement styles. Believe me,  I share your frustrations in determining what half a stick of American butter means in the metric system. I can only say that I work on both systems, employing both scales and cups at the same time. I do know that there is a wonderfully handy conversion chart at the back of the latest edition of the Joy of Cooking which has saved me time and time again. And, knowing the internet, there's probably some wonderful online conversion chart where you can find out any measurement in terms of any other. If you do know of it, please share the wealth! 


225g self raising flour
225g sugar
225g porridge oats
225g margarine/butter
1tbsp golden syrup
1tbsp hot water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda


Mix the flour, oats and sugar in a bowl
Add any extra ingredients such as raisins/chocolate chips if you want
In a pan, melt the margarine, syrup and water
Once melted, stir in the bicarbonate of soda and then add to the dry mix
Mix well, then make smallish balls (the recipe makes 35 – 50 depending on size), place on a greased tray and flatten slightly
Bake at 180°c for 15 minutes until golden, then cool for a few minutes on the tray before moving to a rack.
Spread a layer of chocolate on the top (if you’re making chocolate ones)