Soft, fudgy and crunchy, these Juniper Berry Spiced Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies have so much going on, but they are so easy to make, and have a unique bittersweet, chocolatey, nutty, floral flavor profile! If you like the chocolate and hazelnut flavor combo (think Nutella), you’ll find these cookies absolutely addictive!
I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love a good cookie. And these Slice and Bake Juniper Berry Spiced Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies are especially loved around these parts. I’ve made these cookies so many times and shared them with so many people and the reaction is always swift and the same. You can’t help but fall in love with these soft, fudgy, crunchy, bittersweet, chocolatey, spiced hazelnut cookies! Even my husband who doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth (boy, he married the wrong person!), can’t get enough of these addictive cookies. The cookie dough is not too sweet, has deep, bittersweet chocolate flavors from cocoa powder and deliciously nutty hazelnut flavor.
Everyone who has eaten this cookie has tried to figure out what that “extra flavor” is, but no one has guessed correctly yet (I guess, the secret is out now). Juniper berry adds a unique earthy, fresh, floral, piney sweetness that’s hard to replicate. Juniper berry isn’t a berry at all. These are actually the ripe pine cones from the juniper shrub and they are the key flavoring of gin. They are used frequently as a spice to flavor meat and vegetables, but there’s no reason why you can’t use this bright flavor to complement all the flavors in these chocolate hazelnut cookies (and it’s almost like having gin and chocolate together!).
The raw golden sugar along the edges add a nice crunch to these slice and bake chocolate hazelnut cookies. The melted milk chocolate chunks add the sweetness and a yummy chewy texture. You can use dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, just make sure to use GOOD quality chocolate though (preferably a bar chocolate). I love these juniper berry spiced chocolate hazelnut cookies because they satisfy my chocolate cravings, plus how can I say no to that chocolate and hazelnut combo (I adore Nutella!)? And they are so easy to make, and I love trying unique flavors too.
I’ve made these cookies many times since I first perfected the recipe. So make sure to follow all the steps to get perfect juniper berry spiced chocolate hazelnut cookies. They do require to be chilled before baking, in order to maintain the shape of the cookies.
While I hadn’t planned the timing of this post, in light of what transpired in America last week and Barcelona yesterday, and the world over in recent times, I think it’s serendipity that these cookies were inspired by World Peace Cookies from Dorie Greenspan.
I read what my friend Jenni wrote after what happened in Charlottesville, and it struck a chord with me, because I know exactly how even the most well intentioned people can be swayed by their circumstances, culture, community or times they live in and give in to prejudice and intolerance. It’s a feeling that I’ve had to fight myself while growing up in a country ravaged by a civil war and where I found myself to be in the “majority” purely due to circumstances. And those exact same circumstances have now made me a part of the “minority” where I call home.
We have come so far since the middle of the 20th century. Those were dark times, and I hope the nadir of human civilization. Let’s not turn back the clock. Let’s make it clear as often as we can that those bad guys with their bigotry and racism are history and there’s no place for them in the present or the future. Just as the flavor defines a cookie, it’s the flavor of your being and your soul that makes you who you are. Not the color of your skin or your shape or size. I’ve always faced some form of racism and sexism in my life, and been guilty of some of those feelings myself when I was little because of the environment in which I lived in. But then I learned, and grew up, and realized that it’s my words and actions that define who I am, not the extra melanin in my skin. Hatred comes at such a heavy price. It sullies your heart and your soul, and weighs them down. It’s so much easier to accept. And to love.
These juniper berry spiced hazelnut chocolate cookies won’t bring world peace… but dare I say, they come pretty close! 🙂 These are the best chocolate hazelnut cookies you’ll ever have, and if you’re a fan of that chocolate and hazelnut combo (think Nutella!), you’ll find these cookies especially addictive. There’s a lovely crunchy texture on the outside because of the golden raw sugar crystals, and they are soft and fudgy in the middle with another layer of crunchy texture thanks to the toasted hazelnuts. The juniper berries round off the flavor profile with a very unique fresh, earthy, floral sweetness that makes these cookies one of a kind!
So go ahead and share a batch of these slice and bake chocolate hazelnut cookies with anyone you know (or don’t). I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love cookies, no matter the shape, size or color. And we CAN and SHOULD feel the same way about our fellow human beings too! Like a great man once said – “love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. So if people can learn to hate, they can also be taught to love.”
Let these juniper berry spiced chocolate hazelnut cookies bring a smile to your face and others around you! We could never have enough cookies in the world. Or love.
Juniper berry spiced Chocolate Hazelnut cookies
- 2 tsp whole juniper berries
- 225 g / 8 oz unsalted softened butter
- 200 g / 7 oz brown sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 200 g / 7 oz AP flour
- 75 g / 2.6oz Dutch cocoa powder OR Natural cocoa powder I used valrhona, which is a darker natural cocoa powder
- 170 g / 6 oz of hazelnuts toasted and skinned
- 225 g / 8 oz milk chocolate roughly chopped into chunks
- 1 - 2 cups of raw sugar to roll the cookies in
- Place the juniper berries in a dry pan. Heat to dry roast the berries for a few minutes and to toast them. (You will start to smell the juniper berries and find that they look toasted when they are done).
- Remove from heat and let them cool down. Place the cooled juniper berries in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) and grind them to a powder. Juniper berry powder will be slightly wet and sticky. Set aside until needed.
- Add the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla and juniper berry spice to a large bowl OR your mixer bowl. With a hand mixer or stand mixer (with a paddle mix), mix until the butter and sugar are well mixed and creamy - do not beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add the sifted flour and sifted cocoa powder. Fold them in by hand, OR use the mixer/hand mixer, to incorporate the flour and cocoa powder.
- Add the hazelnuts and milk chocolate chunks and mix them in until they are spread throughout the dough. Divide the dough in half.
- Form a 2 - 2 ½ inch wide cookie dough log with each of the dough portions. Wrap each log in plastic wrap (knotting the ends tightly).
- Refrigerate for about 1 - 2 hours until the cookie dough is firm. The dough can be refrigerated overnight as well.
When ready to bake
- Line two half sheet pans / cookie sheet pans with parchment paper. Sprinkle the raw sugar on a flat plate.
- Unwrap one of the cookie dough logs and roll the log in the raw sugar. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tapered end of the cookie dough log. Then cut 1cm thick slices. Please note that because of the nuts and chocolate chips, you may not get clean slices, so reshape the cookies into rounds when they don’t cut cleanly. Roll the edges in the raw sugar again if you need to. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheet. Each log should make about 12 cookies (not including the ends).
- Cover the lined baking sheet with plastic wrap / parchment paper / or a another baking tray and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minute before baking. This chilling is important to allow the cookies to keep their shape while baking.
- While the cookies are chilling, preheat oven to 325°F. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. The cookies will be soft when you take them out of the oven, and since they are dark brown, it would be hard to tell if they are done. But they will firm up as they cool. Once the cookies have cooled down, remove them from the baking tray and place them on a wire rack.
- Repeat with the second cookie log and the second baking sheet.The cookies will be crunchy on the outside, but soft and fudgy in the middle.
- Store in an airtight container. Enjoy!
NOTE 1 - you CAN leave out the juniper berries, if you prefer. These chocolate hazelnut cookies taste AMAZING even without that extra flavor profile.
Or if you like, you can substitute juniper berries with one of the following too.
1 tsp ground cinnamon (Cinnamon Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies)
2 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp water (Mocha Hazelnut Cookies)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (Chili Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies)
1 tsp peppermint extract + roasted almonds (Mint Chocolate Almond Cookies)
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