(Recipe) “Lite” Chocolate Turtle Cookies

Like a cross between a chocolate turtle and a salted caramel truffle, these cookies are intense but have very little butter.

These cookies were inspired by a tasty bittersweet chocolate/almond/sea salt bar along with chocolate turtles, but I like hazelnuts so I used those instead. Since they have hardly any butter, they’re less guilt producing than they could be.  At least, that’s what I tell myself! They’re deeply chocolatey because they’re made with bar chocolate rather than cocoa. With fudgy chocolate, crunchy hazelnuts and melted caramel pieces, they’re like the best chocolate turtle candy turned into a cookie, with salt flakes on top to increase the intense flavors. Consider making a double recipe because these cookies don’t last long. This recipe makes about 40-50 smallish cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2  jumbo eggs
  • 2/3 cup sugar (or less, for more bittersweet flavors)
  • 1/2 tablespoon of: hazelnut extract, hazelnut liqueur, strong coffee or whatever else, or omit
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 1/2 ounces extra-bittersweet chocolate*, roughly chopped
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate*, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (the Whole Foods 360 brand bittersweet chocolate chunks work well)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • approximately 12-16 caramels (like the ones in the candy bin at Safeway), cut into little pieces
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt

* use good brands like El Rey, Vahlrona, Callebaut, SharffenBerger, etc., available at better grocery stores

Preparation:

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use a Silpat or a non-stick cookie sheet.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, briefly whip the eggs to break them up. Add the sugar, extract/coffee/whatever, and vanilla and beat on high speed for up to 15 minutes, until thick.

4. While the eggs are whipping, place the butter in the top of a double boiler, or in a small metal bowl suspended over a pot of simmering (not boiling) water, and scatter the extra-bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate on top. Heat until the butter and chocolate melt. Remove the boiler top from over the water and stir the chocolate and butter until smooth.

5. Gently fold the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture until partially combined (there should still be some streaks). Add the flour mixture to the batter and carefully fold it in.

6. Fold in the chocolate chips, nuts and caramel pieces. If the batter is very runny, let it rest until it thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.

7. Drop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls (or more, if you like bigger cookies) onto the prepared baking sheets. Carefully sprinkle some grains of flaky sea salt on top of each one, using more or less as you desire. Bake until puffed and cracked, 10 to 13 minutes. The caramel pieces might ooze out of a few cookies, but just remove the “ooze” or drape back over the cookie. Remove the cookies to a wire rack. Using Silpats allows you to lift the cookies off the sheet with your fingers because the melted caramel will soon stick to a spatula and thus not work well for scooping off cookies.  Cookies last well in a tin and can also be frozen.

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