Today is the next installment of the Secret Recipe Club and you are going to love meeting this blogger! Jess, the author of Inquiring Chef, is a transplanted American living in Bankok. If you have ever dreamed of exploring a different country, its culture and cuisine, you need to experience Jess’ website!
Jess and I have a lot in common. Jess grew up in Kansas, eating barbecue and sweet corn … my folks are from Indiana and I grew up on nearly the same foods. While earthquakes are a normal occurrence for me, she knows exactly what to do when the tornado sirens sound. When it was time for college, she chose to move to Virginia and attend James Madison University, the same college my niece, also named Jessica, attended! As a matter of fact, my niece is currently living in Japan. Maybe I should introduce the two of them!!
I was captivated by Jess’ stories, photographs, and recipes, which have global influences woven through them. As I hunted for the perfect chocolate recipe to make and share with you, I kept being distracted by all the beautiful recipes on her site. I must admit I am little enchanted with the exotic natures of the Asian cuisines and can’t wait to come back and make some of her specialties.
I kept wanting to email her and ask questions about recipes, which camera lens she uses most often, etc. but couldn’t say anything before reveal day in case she figured out that I was her SRC Buddy this month!
After a lot of searching and narrowing down the options, I finally settled on today’s recipe. I love the concept of filling a ball of fairly neutral sugar cookie dough with a filling. As I was making them my mind started thinking of all the different things you could use in this recipe in the place of her delicious Nutella chips. Of course regular chocolate chips are a natural option, but what about white chocolate, butterscotch or vanilla chips? Maybe cinnamon chips for a snickerdoodle flavor, or even a lovely nugget of ganache like the center of a truffle. Maybe even homemade marshmallows cut into tiny pieces would work. I think a few toffee chips could be fun too and give the cookies a nice crunch. Hmmmm, something to think about for future batches!
Thank you Jess for including weights in addition to volume measurements for all of your ingredients. Since I’ve gone gluten-free I have become accustomed to weighing the flours and this made it much simpler to substitute my GF flour blend. For those of you who are new to gluten-free baking, do yourself a favor and buy a kitchen scale. It will help you in ways you never anticipated!
I didn’t have any chocolate jimmies in the house so I sprinkled the tops of the cookies with coarse sugar. It gives them a nice crunch and enhances the sugar flavor. You could also roll the dough balls in the sugar if you want even more crunch.
If you wanted to make a fun children’s party treat, make a couple of batches of these cookies and use different fillings in some of them. If you don’t mark them, you can’t tell what the filling is, so they become magic cookies! Of course if you want to know which is which, put chocolate jimmies on the chocolate ones, pink sugar on the marshmallow ones, a sliced almond on those filled with nutella, etc.
I made my version with half white sugar and half brown sugar. This helps add a touch more moisture to help the gluten-free flours. They turned out beautifully golden and soft, with a light crunch from the coarse sugar. The dough was so good I’m amazed I got as many cookies baked as I did, LOL!
Thank you Jess for the opportunity to take virtual travels around the world with you. I know my readers will be thrilled with today’s cookies and with thoroughly enjoy discovering your website. I loved having you as my SRC Buddy!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
A lot of recipes call for piping batters for a variety of projects. If you don’t want to mess with a piping tip and bag, just put your batter into a heavy-duty plastic bag and force it down into one corner. Seal the top and twist it to keep the batter nice and snug in the corner. Use a pair of scissors and snip a small piece off the corner, creating an opening to squeeze the batter through. If it isn’t big enough, cut the hole a little bigger.
When you are done just throw the whole thing away and voila, no mess!!
Nutella-Filled Vanilla Cookies (GF option)
Yield: about two dozen cookies
1/2 cup (220g) Nutella
3 tsp pure coconut oil, stirred until blended before measuring
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
10 tbsp (140g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (220g) granulated sugar (or 1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1/2 cup brown sugar)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla paste
Egg wash: 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water
Chocolate jimmies, coarse sugar, crushed nuts, or sprinkles, optional
Prepare Nutella Chips: Line a small baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat. In a small bowl, whisk together the Nutella and coconut oil. Transfer the Nutella to a small resealable plastic bag and press it into one corner. Cut off the corner of the plastic bag and gently squeeze the Nutella out onto the parchment into 24 evenly sized chips. Each will be about the size of your thumbnail. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the Nutella is firm, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Make Cookie Dough: In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt (if using). Whisk until thoroughly blended. Set aside.
Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium in a stand mixer. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well. Add the dry ingredients and stir just until incorporated.
Using a small spring-loaded ice cream scoop, portion the dough into 24 pieces and flatten each into a disk. I used the bottom of a water glass dipped in a little extra flour. Remove the Nutella chips from the freezer. Working quickly, press one chip into each ball of dough and roll the dough into a ball around the Nutella chip.
Place the cookie dough balls 3 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Place sheet in the refrigerator while you make the egg wash.
Make Egg Wash: In a small bowl, whisk the egg and the water together. Brush the egg wash over the tops of the dough balls. Sprinkle with toppings if desired.
Bake the Cookies: Bake for 5 minutes then spin the tray and continue cooking until the edges of the cookies start to turn golden, about 5 minutes longer. My oven took 6 minutes on each side and the cookies were beautifully golden.
Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cool thoroughly.
VARIATION: If you do not have Nutella on hand or don’t want to take the time to make the Nutella chips, you can substitute a combination of regular chocolate chips with peanut butter chips to approximate the flavor. You probably could even chop up peanut butter cups for an interesting change of pace!
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