In the early 18th century, a marriage took place in Turin, Italy, and the world has never been quite the same ever since. I’m talking about the sacred union of chocolate and hazelnuts, ground together into what is called gianduja. It was born out of economic necessity, when cocoa was expensive so hazelnuts became a filler. However, as many fans of Nutella will heartily acknowledge, the combination of chocolate and hazelnut is much better than those two flavors alone. These cookies are amazing because they can easily be made gluten free!
Technique tip: Black pepper and ginger both add a kick of spicy heat, which intensifies the taste of the chocolate. If you want these even spicier, double the amount of pepper. The hazelnut extract amps up the hazelnut flavor of the nut meal.
In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut meal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, black pepper and salt.2.
Add the egg, melted butter, hazelnut extract, chocolate and ginger, and stir with a large wooden spoon until the dough comes together.3.
Grease your hands with a little oil to prevent the dough from sticking to them. Divide the dough into twelve equal parts and shape them into balls. Flatten them into 2-inch rounds.4.
Place the rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Wrap the entire baking sheet tightly in plastic wrap and place sheet in the freezer for at least 10 minutes, but preferably 2 hours.5.
To bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper.6.
Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and put half the rounds of dough on the second sheet. Spread out the rounds on both baking sheets and refrigerate one of them.7.
Bake one batch of cookies at a time until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes.8.
Cool completely on wire racks before serving.
Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.