Nominally Nomz: Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter and Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

A few months ago, my friend Richard sent me an email with the subject line "nomz." The body of the message consisted of three words ("this looks amazing"), and a hyperlink to a blog post about a recipe for Nutella-Stuffed Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt. Richard and I used to have offices just a few steps away from each other, before he moved to our agency's regional office in Seattle a few years ago. When he gave me a heads up that he would be coming to D.C., I knew I had to make the Nutella cookies for him.

The blog post Richard had sent me was from the Bite-Sized Baker, but she had taken the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen. In short, these are chocolate chip cookies made with browned butter and Greek yogurt, wrapped around a nugget of Nutella. The dough is easy to make: combine browned butter, sugar, and dark brown sugar; beat in an egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and Greek yogurt; incorporate the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, and salt); and fold in chocolate chips. The recipe calls for semisweet, milk, and dark chocolate chips, but I used a mixture of dark and semisweet only. 

The dough was quite oily and very soft, and I put it in the refrigerator to chill. The recipe says it should be chilled for two hours, but I made the dough late in the evening and decided to wait until the next day to bake. Because the Nutella is also supposed to be chilled, I put a jar in the fridge at the same time as the dough.

Twenty-four hours later, I was ready to bake. I took the dough out of the refrigerator and discovered that it was a hard as a rock -- completely impenetrable to a metal scoop. I had to leave the dough out at room temperature for quite some time before it had softened enough to become usable. I used a #40 scoop to portion out the dough, and flattened each piece of dough into a concave disc. Then I sandwiched a dollop of Nutella (did you know that Nutella also becomes as hard as a rock when you leave it in the fridge for an entire day?!) between each pair of discs, pinching the dough shut around the Nutella. I flattened the cookies before sprinkling them with fleur de sel and putting them in the oven to bake.
The baked cookies were very pretty -- dark golden, with deep cracks. They looked like ordinary chocolate chip cookies. I tasted one warm from the oven and I didn't like it very much. While the Nutella was nice and gooey, the cookie was damp and oily. I couldn't tell if it was undercooked, or if perhaps the browned butter, or the oil from the Nutella was the problem.
The next day I tried a cookie and I thought that it was much better; the oily texture was gone. If you look closely at the picture above (click on it to see a larger version) you can see that there wasn't that much Nutella inside the cookies, but there was enough to provide a good amount of Nutella flavor.

Here's the thing. This is a perfectly good chocolate chip cookie. And if you like Nutella (who doesn't?), it's fun to find some Nutella inside of your cookie. But this cookie is exactly the sum of its parts. It tastes like a chocolate chip cookie + Nutella. Somehow, I was imagining that this cookie would be more than that. I feel like you would get the exact same taste experience if you just spread some Nutella on a chocolate chip cookie and ate it. And while the cookie does have a interesting flavor -- I think the browned butter adds a little something -- I've had better. I don't think this can beat Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookie recipe

Nonetheless, my tasters really liked this cookie, and I think that Nutella has attained a status akin to what's happened to bacon -- people tend to think that adding Nutella to anything makes it better. So I can understand why others thought this cookie was the bomb. But for me -- nom, nom? Not so much.

Recipe: "Nutella-Stuffed Brown Butter + Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies" from the Ambitious Kitchen (via the Bite-Sized Baker).

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