The happiness of baking is only real when shared. There is nothing sadder than a stale batch of scones, removed hot and buttery from the oven only to languish on the kitchen counter before they are tossed away. Home-baked loaves should be torn into as the last dregs of heat ebb from the crust and cookies should be snatched greedily from the baking sheet as soon as they are cool enough to handle. There are many things in life that can be relished alone, the likes of long baths, good chocolate and quiet evenings to name a few, but the magic and reward of baking multiplies tenfold when shared. Whether you bake for friends and family or colleagues and neighbours, any home-baker will be familiar with the glow of giving. Even if your batch of muffins are destined for the village fete or school bake sale, there is a satisfaction in providing sustenance and, the case of chocolate brownies, emotional comfort to those in need.
When it’s cold outside my giving spirit is amplified. February can be a long, sad month marooned in winter and lacking in sunlight. By this time, I’ve usually recovered from my festive sugar binge and can begin cobbling treats together with the aim of lifting a few moods and cracking a couple of smiles. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to any personal gain from this venture, after all it’s no particular hardship to spend an afternoon sharing freshly baked cake and coffee with familiar faces. This month is, for commercial reasons, the month of love. Whether you live a log cabin and candlelit dinner sort of life or you get your safe, cosy feelings from friends and family, there is certainly no harm in sharing a little love. I can’t think of many better ways to state my affections than presenting something warm and chocolaty. My re-vamped chocolate hazelnut cookies from my December blog are just the thing. These melting chocolate cookies are an offering of the deepest sentiments; soft inside with a brownie-like crumb and a toasty, hazelnut chew. I challenge anyone who bites into one of these not to feel warm and fuzzy inside.
‘Melting Heart’ Chocolate Cookies
60g ground hazelnuts
90g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
180g chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
small pinch salt
1tsp vanilla extract
Filling and decoration
50g chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
- Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/Gas Mark 4
- Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
- Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Add the vanilla, egg and chocolate spread and beat into a stiff dough.
- Divide the mixture in half.
- Roll half the dough into balls and shape into little, fat discs (small cookie shape)
- Place the 12 discs evenly on the baking tray.
- Dollop a small teaspoonful of chocolate spread on each disc.
- Use the remaining half of the dough to make 12 further discs.
- Cover each dollop with another disc of dough and seal around the edges.
- Bake for 12-14 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar.
- Best served a little warm.