Spiced Cocoa Cookies with Roasted Hazelnuts & Rosemary

Cape Town’s First Cookie Swap

Surely, it can’t be the first Cookie Swap Cape Town’s seen. Hot on the heels of New York Cookie Swap, I threw the idea around on twitter about having a cookie and cheer swap. No one in the food circles piped up about having held one before, so we set out to invite anyone interested to bake up a batch of sweet treats and join.

The lovely gals at Cut&Bake who produce and market their lovingly handmade cookie dough, that you literally cut and bake (I’m yet to sample these, but they sound absolutely delicious from all the reviews I’ve read) offered to host us!

So, this Saturday (17 December 2011), at 2 30 pm a group of Cape Town cookie crafters will be gathering at the Cut&Bake studios to sample Cut&Bake’s cookies, drink bubbles, snack on some savouries and swap our home-made cookies and chocolates. I bet those tupperware/s full of cookies would make really pretty gifts, especially if dressed up in glass jars, like I discussed in this post on festive edible gifts.

Update: Check out the pics of the event here. It was a wonderful afternoon of treats and laughter.

Group Pic by Marius Senekal

I’ve heard that Le Creuset has offered prizes worth R2000 and that there are goodie bags stuffed with drool-worthy yummies to take home too.

It’s been a long, challenging year, so it will be wonderful to spread some sweet cheer to take us through the festive season and into the next year.

There are a few spaces available, if you’d like to join (please do, it’s going to be a fun, informal and scrumptious way to meet fellow locals), please RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/cookiecheerCT (full details supplied here as well)

[If we get #CookieCheer 2011 off to a good start, perhaps we can consider including a charity element into the next one]

While browsing the innerwebs and the millions of food blogs that it holds for interesting cookie recipes, I stumbled upon these gorgeous Rosemary Chocolate Chip Cookies. I was intrigued by the sweet and savoury combination in tandem. I’m wary of rosemary in savoury dishes, as it can often be overpowering, but was keen to experiment with it in a cookie.

I loved the fact that the recipe called for cinnamon, cayenne pepper and smoked paprika but wondered if this would result in a bizarre and uncomfortable sensation, like a few chocolates that contain chilli that get the sting ratio way out of proportion to the chocolate it’s enrobed in. Also, some people may not care for a savoury cookie. Yet another reason I felt a challenge bekoning.

I substituted the pecans with roasted hazelnuts – their gorgeous warmth would work perfectly against the rosemary and spices, I thought. Also, I added a healthy scoop of Spanish cocoa powder for good measure along with the chocolate chips (why hold back when you have a good thing going, right? Right).

I was amazed that the recipe did not call for any eggs or liquid and thought I was done for when the dough resembled ultra fine breadcrumbs and transformed to the texture of a truffle with the warmth of my hands – not gloopy or even moist and doughy. I needn’t have worried though, they baked perfectly! A note though to use the half cup of melted butter (not less) and even a few teaspoons more if you like.

The cookies are slightly crumbly but hold the mountainful of ingredients I added to them well. I’m blown away by the unexpected surprises this cookie holds – rich chocolate, the crunch of golden, roasted hazelnuts, the faint herbiness of rosemary and then a lingering warmth from the spices. A little salt balances out the sugar and cocoa too.

I’m still not certain what cookie I’ll make for the Cookie Swap, but I’m considering this one.

Spiced Cocoa Cookies with Roasted Hazelnuts & Rosemary

Based on a recipe by Hannah Kaminsky at BitterSweet Blog


Makes 30 medium sized cookies

125 ml butter, melted + a bit extra

125 ml cup demerara or brown sugar, firmly packed

80 ml castor sugar

2 T maple syrup

1/2 t vanilla extract

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) cake flour

80 ml cocoa powder

3/4 t ground cinnamon

1/4 t cayenne pepper

1/4 t smoked sweet paprika

1 1/2  T fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

1/2 t bicarbonate of soda

1/2 t baking powder

1/4 t fine salt

180 ml (3/4 cup) hazelnuts, roasted till golden and bashed slightly (or pecan nuts)

180 ml (3/4 cup) dark chocolate chips/chunks (at least 70 % cocoa preferable)



Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius and line baking trays with baking parchment.

In a mixer or with a handheld blender, using the whisk attachment blend together the melted butter, sugars, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth, fluffy and a pale cappuccino colour.

Sift the flour and cocoa into a large bowl. Add all the spices, rosemary, baking soda and powder, and salt. Add the hazelnuts and chocolate chips and coat well. I shook the bowl about.

If using a mixer, change whisk to cake beater attachment. If not, use spatula and mix by hand.

Add the flour mix in two lots. Do not overwork the dough, just mix till the flour is incorporated. Make certain that flour at the bottom of the bowl is mixed in as well.

Do not panic at the texture that appeares like soft, fine chocolate sand. With a load of bits and pieces in. Have faith.

Use your hands to shape small truffle size balls, warming them so that it’s easier to work with. In fact this cookie relies on the warmth of your hands to come together.

Press down slightly so that the cookie is about less than a centimeter in thickness. Give the cookies about 2.5 centimeters between each other. My cookies didn’t spread out much, but err on the side of caution.

Bake for 9 – 10 minutes per sheet.  You want them to be slightly chewy and not dry and over -baked, so watch closely.

Allow to cool for a few minutes, and then move them off to a wire rack. Store in an air-tight container. Keeps for about a week.



Make the cookie vegan, but substituting the butter for melted margarine.

Keep a few tablespoons of melted butter ready, dribble some in to make dough easier to work with.



 * Kind thanks to Hila of Add to Taste and Katie of Cut&Bake for organising the event*

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