Walnuts and pecans are the two types of nuts that are usually found in chocolate chip cookies. Both nuts go well with just about any type of chocolate, which makes them as versatile as they are delicious. White chocolate tends to be used in cookies where a milder nut is mixed in to the batter, such as macadamia nuts, where the creaminess of the chocolate will help to showcase the flavor of the nut. In these White Chocolate, Hazelnut and Cherry Cookies, milky white chocolate is paired with toasted hazelnuts and sweet-tart dried cherries for a cookie that shows off all of its mix-ins perfectly.
I love these cookies as an unexpected alternative to a classic chocolate chip cookie, or even to a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie. Hazelnuts have a more subtle flavor than some other types of nuts, but they have a great crunch when they are toasted. The combination of hazelnuts and white chocolate in a cookie isn’t all that common – and that makes these even more satisfying to eat! As always, use good quality white chocolate for best results – white chocolate that is made with real cocoa butter and not other vegetable fats.
I decided to add in dried tart cherries to add a little contrast – both in color and in flavor – to the other elements in this recipe. The tart cherries really allow the creamy vanilla notes of the white chocolate to shine and set off the roasted flavor of the hazelnuts. The cherries that I had happened to be extremely larger and needed to be coarsely chopped to give them an even distribution in the dough. This may or may not be the case with your cherries, so keep it in mind and give them a quick chop if necessary. If you don’t have dried cherries, dried cranberries will be an excellent substitute.
These cookies are buttery and addictive, with plenty of fruit and nut flavors to balance out the sweetness of the white chocolate (because I know that some of you are worried that the cookies might be too sweet – and they’re not!). Bake them until the are just golden on the edges, so they retain a chewy center. The cookies are ready to eat as soon as they have cooled, but they will keep well in an airtight container for a few days after baking.
White Chocolate, Hazelnut and Cherry Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup white chocolate chips
3/4 cup coarsely chopped, toasted hazelnuts
3/4 cup chopped, dried cherries
2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, adding one in at a time, followed by vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, gradually blend in the flour until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated, then mix in the white chocolate, toasted hazelnuts and dried cherries.
Shape cookie dough into 1-inch balls and arrange on prepared baking sheet, leaving about 2-inches between cookies to allow for spread.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until the cookies are set and very lightly browned around the outside edge. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 3 1/2 – 4 dozen