Saturday, 25 May 2013

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies

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As our first school year in China is quickly coming to a close, it's time to announce ... we've signed on for a second year! To be real, it's a bittersweet moment for me. I think I've been fairly honest, if not somewhat limited in the details of my thoughts on life here so far, but I think it's time I broke it down for you. Let's make a list!

Things I love:
  1. It's a completely different culture from any I've known before and it forces me to rethink my own biases every single day.
  2. I get to travel to really amazing places, a lot.
  3. I get to work with really amazing students. These dudes and dudettes are some of the brightest people I've ever met, it's almost scary.  They are going to take over the world one day and they'll probably rock it.
  4. It's warm 10 months of the year. The other 2 months it's about 15 degrees Celsius - it makes it hard to complain about the cold days when talking to family and friends back home who are sitting under feet of snow.
  5. These cookies. 

Things I don't love:
  1. The food. I'm in love with food in general, but in China access to safely fresh food is a very, very big issue. I haven't eaten an apple in 10 months and I stopped eating meat not long after arriving. Local cuisine is far too greasy for my tastes (and tummy), and I just want to be able to make a leafy salad, but can't. Also, I don't want to travel 20 minutes by bus in order to buy cheese. I just don't.
  2. Public habits. Loud "hoarking" in the streets is a sound I will never get used to. I will also not get used to, or be okay with, your child defecating in the streets - the public health issues alone are never ending. In general people speak too loudly and stand too close. I sound like an old man, I know, but I find it unnerving. (disclaimer: some of this is cultural, I'm not meaning to offend, I just don't love it and that's okay too)
  3. It rains. A lot. It causes flooding in the streets and all of the above mentioned public habits are now in movement.
  4. The atmosphere is damp. The environment is tropical. I get that, I just don't love it. It means I can't have bangs and my big hair get's bigger. 
  5.  My kitchen for making these cookies. The oven is shared, there are always strangers asking for samples and I don't know how to say "no sorry, these are for a friend who's birthday in Hong Kong just got cancelled".

Next year we will be moving and I'll have my very own (mini, counter-top) oven, it's the most exciting part.  It will mean more cookies and maybe even some muffins - it's the little things. 

Little things like Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies. Chocolate wrapped in chocolate. Crispy outside, soft and chewy inside with a melty core of Nutella. Rich and slightly intense these would be perfect paired with a big glass of fresh milk, or even with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. 

Click through for the recipe!
The construction behind these is simple and not overly time consuming, I like to break it down into a three step process.


Roll out a small amount of dough into a ball and place it on a lined cookie sheet. Keep in mind the size will at least double when you finish building these, so don't go overboard (it's easy to get excited, I know). Using any finger of your choosing (though for karma's sake, let's avoid the middle), press a well into the middle of each dough ball.


Fill each "well" with as much Nutella as you like (which should really be as much as possible, this is not the place to be skimpy).


Roll another small amount of dough (about the same size as the first) in between your hands. Flatten it with your palm and drape it over your Nutella filled morsel on the cookie sheet. Gently press the sides down to seal the cookie and voila! Ready to bake!

These spread a good amount while baking, so be sure to leave enough room between each cookie to let them do their thing.

Nutella Stuffed Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from Brownie Box

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar - see notes
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 - 1/2 cup of Nutella (hard to estimate, just spoon it straight from the jar)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F, line a cookie sheet with aluminum or parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, mis together the melted butter, sugars, cocoa powder and eggs. Stir until well combined
  3. Add in the salt, soda, and flour and stir until combined
  4. Roll out a small amount of dough into a ball and place it on a lined cookie sheet
  5. Use your finger to press a well into the middle of each dough ball and drop Nutella by the spoon into each "well"
  6. Roll another small amount of dough (about the same size as the first) in between your hands. Flatten it with your palm and drape it over your Nutella filled morsel on the cookie sheet. Gently press the sides down to seal the cookie.
  7. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, allow to rest on cookie sheet for a couple of minutes before transfering to a wire rack for cooling
  8. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes:
- We can only get very dark brown sugar here, which plays up the intensity of the cookie. Using light brown sugar will result in a slightly lighter (but no less delcious cookie). You can also use all brown sugar if you are using a lighter brown - don't be afraid to experiment!
- When sealing the cookies, I found it easiest to drape the flattened dough on top, very gently pick up the cookie and flip it over in my palm to seal the dough on the bottom - be gentle, and don't worry if a little Nutella leaks out the side. 

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