I’m partnering with Ghirardelli® to bring you today’s recipe! I absolutely LOVE their chocolate products, especially their chocolate bars and chocolate chips, and keep them in my pantry at all times. They’re so perfect for baking!
Last year, my grandma hosted Christmas at her house. As part of the holiday festivities, she planned to purchase a bûche de Noël, a traditional French cake roll decorated to look like a Yule log, from a local bakery for our Christmas dinner dessert.
Because of my brother’s egg allergy, I offered to bake him whatever he wanted as his own holiday dessert, so on Christmas Eve, he sat on a barstool at my kitchen island as I pulled out mixing bowls.
“Could you make cookies?” he politely asked, intentionally trying to request something simple.
“Sure! Anything else?” I replied.
“Umm… Maybe brownies?” His eyes quickly lit up at the thought. “I haven’t had brownies in years… It’s basically impossible to find any egg-free ones where I live.”
I laughed and immediately agreed. Before reaching for flour and baking powder, I handed him a bowl and pointed out the “mix ins” section in my pantry, a shelf that held chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, and other fun things to stir into batters and doughs.
“Fill it with whatever you want in your desserts!” I declared.
A couple of hours later, dozens of freshly baked treats sat cooling on the countertops, the aroma of rich chocolate mixed with toasted nuts and a hint of cozy spices wafting through the air. As my brother took his first bite, the biggest smile broke out across his face…
So I offered to make that a new holiday tradition, where I bake him whatever eggless treats he’d like, so he can have his own special Christmas desserts!
This year, I got a head start on that holiday baking… And I’ve already mailed him a batch of these Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies! They combine the best bits of last year’s treats — perfectly portioned cookies with a super moist and chewy, almost fudgy brownie-like texture — yet they’re completely eggless and dairy-free.
These fun cookies also include three types of chocolate, so they taste incredibly decadent and rich. Nobody will ever guess they’re lightened up — or just 95 calories!
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT COOKIES
Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies. You probably have many of them in your pantry or fridge already!
White whole wheat flour. A true staple in my healthy baking pantry! Although it may sound a little strange, it’s not a combination of white (aka all-purpose) flour and regular whole wheat flour. Instead, white whole wheat flour is made by finely grinding a special type of soft white wheat (hence the name!), whereas regular whole wheat flour comes from a heartier variety of red wheat. They both have the same health benefits (like extra fiber!), but white whole wheat flour has a lighter taste and texture. That lets the chewy texture and rich dark chocolate flavor of your chocolate hazelnut cookies really shine!
Unsweetened cocoa powder. This is the first of the three chocolate ingredients in these healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies! You want regular unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutched or special dark. Those latter two have a different acidity level, which affects the taste and texture of your cookies. Besides, you’re adding two more chocolate components to your cookie dough, so your chewy chocolate hazelnut cookies already taste really rich and chocolaty without them!
Baking soda and salt. Just a smidge of each! The baking soda gives your triple chocolate hazelnut cookies a bit of a lift, creating the perfect moist and fudgy brownie-like texture.
Fat. To keep these chocolate hazelnut cookies low calorie and low fat, you only need a small amount! Stick-style vegan butter and unsalted butter are my two favorites, and coconut oil works as well. To make this recipe as easy as possible, you’ll melt whichever one of these three ingredients you pick. No need to set them out ahead of time to soften! (Which I often forget to do anyway…)
Tip: If you use stick-style vegan butter or coconut oil, your healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies are naturally vegan and dairy free!
Unsweetened chocolate. I used these brand new 100% cacao chips from Ghirardelli, and I’m completely obsessed! They contain one ingredient — unsweetened chocolate — and nothing else. No sugar, no dairy, no stabilizers or emulsifiers or anything else. Because they’re pure chocolate, they give these chocolate hazelnut cookies the best rich chocolate flavor!
But the thing I love even more than that super short ingredient list? Their size! These 100% cacao chips are the same exact size as regular chocolate chips. That makes them so much easier to work with!
Before, whenever I needed 100% unsweetened chocolate for my recipes, I had to buy a big ol’ bar… and then break it into smaller pieces, which often resulted in a mess. Chocolate shards and chunks went everywhere! But with these 100% cacao chips, I literally just shake them out of the bag, just like with regular chocolate chips. Super easy and zero mess. They’ve already become a staple in my pantry!
Vanilla extract. A classic cookie ingredient! You’ll add a touch more to this cookie dough than many recipes typically call for because that extra bit makes your healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies taste just as rich as traditional cookies. (One of my favorite healthy cookie baking tricks!)
Unsweetened vanilla almond milk. This replaces the eggs! Any milk will work, so just use whatever you currently keep in your fridge. However, if you use non-dairy milk (unsweetened vanilla almond milk is the one my brother and parents always keep on hand!), then your healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies are naturally eggless, dairy-free and vegan!
Coconut sugar. This is exactly what it sounds like… An unrefined sweetener that comes from coconuts! However, it does not actually taste like coconuts. It has a rich caramel-like flavor, similar to brown sugar, which enhances the rich dark chocolate flavor of your healthy eggless chocolate hazelnut cookies.
Tip: Brown sugar will also work, but if you use coconut sugar, then these chocolate hazelnut cookies are clean eating friendly!
Hazelnuts. Can’t make chocolate hazelnut cookies without the nuts! I toasted and peeled my own, but you can also buy ones that are already toasted with the skins removed too. (Highly recommend that easy shortcut!)
Chocolate chips. This is the final chocolate ingredient! First was the cocoa powder, then came the 100% unsweetened chocolate chips… And finally these! I used another new product from Ghirardelli, their 72% cacao chips. I’m just as obsessed with these as the 100% chips — maybe even more!
These new 72% cacao chips have an incredible smooth, rich, indulgent flavor. To me, they literally taste like you’re eating bits of a regular chocolate bar! (Which just might mean I grab a few every time I walk past my pantry… 😉 ) They also contain 50% less sugar than Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chocolate chips!
But the best part? They turn perfectly melty and gooey in the oven! Many other brands of chocolate chips I’ve used to make cookies maintain their shape during baking because of added stabilizers… But not these 72% cacao chips from Ghirardelli. They melted just like chocolate chunks broken off of high-quality dark chocolate bars!
Can you see that perfect melty texture?? Pure bliss!
Flaky sea salt. I tried making these cookies with and without it… And my taste testers unanimously agreed that the flaky sea salt made a huge difference! It really brought out the richness of the chocolate. Definitely worth using!
HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT COOKIES
Now that you know the ingredients you’ll need, let’s go over how to make the best healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies!
This easy recipe is really straightforward. No special equipment necessary — just two bowls and a fork!
After mixing your dry ingredients in one bowl (flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt), you’ll combine your melted vegan butter and melted 100% cacao chips in another bowl. Before stirring in the dairy-free milk, make sure it’s warm! Cold milk will immediately re-solidify your melted butter, and it can cause your chocolate to seize too.
Tip: Just pop your milk in the microwave for a few seconds! I use the pinky test. If I can stick my pinky into the milk and it feels about the same temperature as a hot tub, then it’s the perfect temperature.
Then after stirring in the vanilla and coconut sugar, you’ll fold in the hazelnuts and just over half of the 72% cacao chips.
Why not all?
Well… Because you’ll press the rest into the tops of your cookie dough just before baking! I think it makes these chocolate hazelnut cookies look even more irresistible when you can see those melty chocolate chunks as soon as you pull them out of the oven!
But I’m getting ahead of myself… There are three really important things you need to know about this healthy chocolate hazelnut cookie dough!
This cookie dough is very sticky — and that’s intentional. The moist and sticky texture of this cookie dough is what gives your chocolate hazelnut cookies that super chewy, fudgy brownie-like texture! Because it’s sticky, do NOT use your hands to shape it. Instead, use a spoon and spatula. (I use a mini spatula!)
This cookie dough doesn’t spread much — if at all — while baking. So you need to flatten and shape it ahead of time! Again, I don’t use any special tools. I just use that same mini spatula to flatten the cookie dough and smooth out the edges to make the cookies look round and pretty.
Don’t overbake these cookies. This is key! Your cookies are done baking when the centers still feel a bit soft and underdone. You’ll let them cool on the warm baking sheet for a few minutes, and the heat from the metal baking sheet helps the centers finish cooking all the way through without drying out the cookies. That gives these healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies the best soft and chewy texture!
FAQS ABOUT THESE HEALTHY CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT COOKIES
Can I make these cookies gluten free? Definitely! I’ve already included my recommendations in the Notes section of the recipe so you can make these healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies gluten-free.
Can I make these cookies dairy free or vegan? Yes! If you use the stick-style vegan butter or coconut oil options, as well as non-dairy milk, then your chocolate hazelnut cookies are naturally vegan, egg free, and dairy free.
How should I store these cookies? And how long do they keep? I recommend an airtight container! They’ll keep for at least four days (if not longer!) if stored in an airtight container at room temperature. If you put that airtight container in the refrigerator, your chocolate hazelnut cookies should last a few days longer.
Can I freeze these cookies? Yes again! If you use the flaky sea salt on top, it usually dissolves when you thaw your cookies, but they’ll still have the same taste and texture.
Can I ship these cookies? Yes one more time! I have a handy guide here all about how to package and mail cookies.
I’ve already made five batches of these cookies… And we’re only one week into December. They’re my favorite holiday cookies this year!
Ready to try making your own? When you do, remember to snap a picture and share it on Instagram using #amyshealthybaking and tagging @amyshealthybaking and @ghirardelli IN the photo itself! (That guarantees I’ll see your picture! 🙂 ) I’d love to see your healthy chocolate hazelnut cookies!
Healthy Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
- 1 ½ cups (180g) white whole wheat flour or gluten-free* flour (measured like this)
- ½ cup (40g) unsweetened cocoa powder (measured like this – and see Notes!)
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp (28g) stick-style vegan butter or coconut oil, melted and cooled slightly
- 2 tbsp (30g) Ghirardelli 100% cacao chips, melted
- 6 tbsp (90mL) unsweetened vanilla almond milk, warmed (see Notes!)
- 1 tbsp (15mL) vanilla extract
- 1 cup (192g) coconut sugar
- ¼ cup (28g) chopped hazelnuts (see Notes!)
- ¼ cup (60g) Ghirardelli 72% cacao chips, chopped and divided
- optional: flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (highly recommended!)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F, and line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, stir together the melted vegan butter or coconut oil and melted Ghirardelli 100% cacao chips until thoroughly combined. Stir in the warm milk and vanilla extract until completely incorporated. Stir in the coconut sugar. Add in the flour mixture, stirring just until incorporated. Fold in the hazelnuts and 3 tablespoons of chopped Ghirardelli 72% cacao chips.
- Using a spoon and spatula, drop the cookie dough into 24 rounded mounds onto the prepared baking sheets. Using a spatula, flatten each cookie dough mound to ⅜” tall and smooth out the edges, if desired. (See Notes!) Gently press the remaining chopped Ghirardelli 72% cacao chips into the tops. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt, if using. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. Cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack.