I have a dangerous weakness for cookies. It is disconcertingly easy to make a batch one afternoon and have nothing left to show for it the next day. But yet, like flowers, their fleeting existence doesn’t take away from their beauty, if anything it makes you more grateful that they were ever there at all… [stares off into the distance thinking about cookies].
The perfect cookie is surprisingly hard to come by, and while you could argue that it’s a matter of personal preference, this is incorrect. Regardless of size, flavour or ingredients, a cookie should be crisp on the outside and chewy in the middle. If it’s not chewy in the middle then it’s a biscuit. If it’s soft all over it’s essentially a flat cake. These are just the facts, don’t @ me.
It is often assumed that wheat flour is superior to other options, but in cookies it’s actually pretty easy to sub in other flours, and these can add far more depth of flavour. In fact this recipe doesn’t use flour at all, rather a mixture of hazelnuts and oats ground to a coarse flour-like texture. I love that hearty, rounded taste that oats bring to a cookie, and the addition of ground hazelnuts means that you have that beautiful nutty flavour dispersed throughout, rather than in sporadic nuggets.
I think chocolate in a cookie is pretty essential and, guess what, I have strong opinions about this too. Chocolate chips are just poor quality chocolate. The point is that they hold their shape but delicious coco-y goodness is not a price worth paying. I normally use a bar of dark chocolate, something around 70% cocoa solids, and chop it into rough chunks. These will spread and create oozing veins of chocolate throughout your cookies, which may not look particularly uniform but they will taste so much better. Furthermore, you can adjust the chunk size depending on your preference, and you have a far greater array of chocolate options to choose from. I am team chunk all the way.
To make your cookies, chop the chocolate and set to one side, then measure out the oats and hazelnuts. Process in a food processor or high-speed blender until they are finely ground and have a coarse flour texture. In a large bowl, add the sugar and softened vegan butter – I use Naturli Vegan Block, available in Sainsbury’s and some health-food shops, which is hands down the best vegan butter substitute I have come across. You could also use vegan spread or coconut oil, and for the best results I would recommend using half and half of each. Using an electric whisk, or a spoon and some elbow grease, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Then add all of the rest of the ingredients, apart from the chocolate, and whisk again until just combined. Finally, stir in the chocolate chunks.
A lot of cookie recipes tell you to refrigerate the dough for half an hour or so before baking but I haven’t been able to discern any advantage in doing this. On a particularly warm day your dough might be a little sticky but should still be easy enough to handle if you work quickly.
You’ll need to line two baking sheets with baking paper, then scoop out roughly equal blobs of dough. You can make the cookies as big or small as you like, but you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. A heaped tablespoon of dough rolled into a rough ball (about the size of a walnut) should give about 16 of what I would describe as a medium-sized cookie. Large enough that you can get a decent chewy centre but not so big that you question whether or not to have a second. Make sure your blobs of dough have enough space to spread without merging; 8–10 cm between them should be enough.
For the perfect cookie, the length of oven time is crucial. At 170C fan it takes exactly 12 minutes in my oven. At this point they have just started to brown at the edges. They will seem completely under-cooked if you poke them in the middle, and if you try to move the cookies from the tray they will collapse, but rest-assured, if the edges are starting to brown then they will firm up as they cool. If you leave them in the oven longer you won’t achieve optimum chewiness. However, different ovens can vary wildly in temperature so you may have to experiment a little.
After 5–10 minutes out of the oven the cookies should be sturdy enough to move to a cooling rack. As the chef, it is imperative that you taste one as soon as they are cool enough, but while the chocolate is still melted – 5 minutes on the cooling rack should do it.
Please let me know if you give these a try! I’d love to hear how you get on. You can comment below or find me on Instagram and Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Vegan Chocolate and Hazelnut Oatmeal Cookies
Vegan and gluten-free cookies - the perfect combination of crisp edges and a chewy centre, made with ground oats, hazelnuts, and generous quantities of chocolate.
Vegan, Gluten-free, Soya-free
- 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)*
- 100g hazelnuts
- 100g oats (gluten-free if necessary)
- 75g soft light brown sugar / light muscavado
- 50g caster sugar
- 100g Naturli Vegan Block, softened, OR 50g vegan spread and 50g coconut oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Heat the oven to 170C fan and line two baking trays with baking paper. Chop 100g dark chocolate into rough chunks and set aside.
- Measure 100g hazelnuts and 100g oats into a food processor or high-speed blender and whizz until finely ground i.e. a coarse flour texture.
- In a large bowl, measure out 100g room temperature vegan block (or vegan spread and melted coconut oil), and 75g soft brown sugar and 50g caster sugar. Using an electric hand whisk, mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then add in the flour mixture, 2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 tsp baking powder and ½ tsp salt, and whisk again until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks until evenly distributed.
- Scoop out heaped tablespoons of mixture, roll into a rough balls about the size of a walnut, and arrange on the baking trays ensuring that there is plenty of room between them.
- Bake for 12-13 minutes until the edges are just starting to brown. They will still be very soft in the middle, but don’t worry, they will firm up! Leave to cool on the trays for at least 5 minutes, by which time they should be sturdy enough to move to a cooling rack.
*This is my preferred chocolate for this recipe but you could use any you like. You could also substitute some of the chocolate for roughly chopped hazelnuts for even more hazelnutty goodness.