I'll never forget the first time hearing someone say that they used olive oil in a dessert recipe. I was in high school, therefore completely unfamiliar with all things baking, when my sister told me that her then-boyfriend had made boxed brownies a few days earlier for his family. Sounds innocent enough, but since he was completely out of canola oil, he had no other choice but to use olive oil instead. I remember my sister and I laughing so hard and pretty much were mortified with the idea of mixing olive oil with chocolate. Of course, we never had the chance to taste them (and probably wouldn't have wanted to anyway) and decided to just write off my sister's boyfriend as a big dummy.
Years later, I realized that it was I who was the big dummy and that I should have been experimenting with olive oil in desserts all along. When partially or completely using olive oil in place of butter or vegetable oil in recipes for cakes, cookies, etc. you are left with an amazing and delicious treat. The olive oil flavor doesn't overpower the other components in the recipe, and honestly just brings a whole different dynamic to the dish. It simply adds an incredible depth of flavor that you other fats just can't deliver.
When scanning through old photos, I came to the realization that the recipe I am providing you with today is actually the first olive oil dessert that I ever baked. I remember being pretty hesitant when I was making these olive oil brownie cookies over 5 years ago, but in the end, I deemed these cookies to be the best of its kind. Let me be more clear: I've tried a handful of brownie cookie recipes since, mostly recipes using butter, and to this day, everything falls short compared to this batch. Over the years, I've probably made this recipe 10 or more times.
Brownie cookies are the perfect marriage of two of my favorite treats: you get the decadence and fudgy-ness of a brownie all wrapped into a perfectly sized cookie with crisp set edges. They're totally addicting and nearly impossible to stop eating after trying one. Although I am not so fond of adding nuts to my brownies, all bets are off when it comes to my cookies, whether they're related to the brownie family or not. Pecans or walnuts usually reign supreme in the brownie world, but I wanted to do something a little out of the ordinary and decided that hazelnuts would be an amazing option. Luckily, I was right and as always when combining chocolate and hazelnuts together, there is definitely a bit of a Nutella flavor coming through. What could be better?
A couple of notes. Like I said above, I've made these cookies numerous times and I want to let it be known that you can use any kind of olive oil that you have in your pantry. I've used plain olive oil, standard extra virgin olive oil, expensive organic extra virgin olive oil... and I personally don't think which kind you use makes that big of a difference. Sure, extra virgin olive oil is a higher quality that contains pure, cold-pressed olives, as opposed to being a blend, but we aren't using the olive oil to dip bread into. It's part of a much larger picture combined with other huge flavors like chocolate, so if you don't want to go out and buy expensive olive oil for this, then don't! The olive oil flavor will still work its magic and the cookies will be fantastic regardless.
And most importantly, the other note is that there is a step in the directions for this recipe that should not go unnoticed! At one point you have to mix baking soda with hot water to dissolve it before mixing it in with the cookie batter/dough. After some research, it appears that this ensures that the baking soda will be evenly distributed through out, which will prevent the cookies from spreading. I once forgot this step and I kid you not, I had to throw the cookies away because it turned into one huge cookie monster. Sounds like it could be delicious, but it was a very bad sight! Trust me on this when I say not to skip this step. Like always, read through the directions before doing anything, and you'll be just fine!
Olive Oil Brownie Cookies w/ Hazelnuts
Yields about 25 cookies
Recipe adapted from Butterlust
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup olive oil, any kind works
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. hot water
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
Flaky sea salt, to finish (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. Set aside.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and sugar until completely incorporated. Add one egg at a time, mixing well until adding each one.
Slowly add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
In a small bowl, stir the baking soda and hot water together until the baking soda is dissolved. Add this to the large bowl, along with vanilla extract. Mix together.
Using a spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The longer it chills, the easier it'll be to scoop the dough. Compared to other doughs, this one is more like a brownie batter.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper, and using a spoon or a cookie scoop, scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. The cookies are done when the edges are set - the center will still look soft. Do not overbake! Once taken out of the oven, sprinkle with flaky sea salt and allow the cookies to sit on the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.