We had adventures on our trip (not least because of the need to drive on the “wrong” side of the road) and would put 7,000 kilometers on our rental car in a month. When not staying with friends, we found bed & breakfast homes. In a suburb of Wellington, the capital city, located on the southern tip of the North Island, we found a bed & breakfast that was easily the nicest of our entire journey. It had a beautiful garden, and our room was thoughtfully furnished with every convenience, including a tin of cookies. We were hungry, and we each took one. “What do you think? Ashley asked. “It’s good but too short” (meaning that it had too much fat/shortening), I replied, ever the food critic.
We settled in, freshened up, and went into the kitchen to chat with our hostess. We had a lot in common. She was in charge of the music curriculum for the Wellington schools and loved to cook. “Do you know who Jo Seagar is?” I asked. I’d met Jo, known as the Julia Child of New Zealand, a couple of years earlier, when she’d stopped in Springfield to visit some of our New Zealand friends on her way to a convention in Chicago. We’d had a fun evening, and my husband, Peter, had helped her the next day with a dental emergency. “Of course,” our hostess replied enthusiastically. “I have all of her cookbooks. In fact, the cookies in your room are from her latest book. I have to say, though, I was a bit disappointed in them.” She turned to her shelf of cookbooks, pulled one out, opened it to the appropriate page, and handed it to me. I looked at it, dumbfounded. It was my recipe. Well, not exactly. She’d called them “Nuts and Bolts Cookies,” with a subtitle of “Dentist’s Revenge” — a tribute to Peter, no doubt. I hadn’t given her the recipe, but I knew where she’d gotten it: the friends with whom we’d had dinner in Springfield. Ashley and our hostess figured out why the cookies were too greasy: Jo had halved the ingredients in the recipe, except for the amount of butter, which was expressed in grams, so the proportion of butter was roughly twice that of the original recipe. She’d also reduced the amount of nuts. I certainly wasn’t offended, though I did wish she’d gotten the butter part right. Disclaimer: I said that this was my recipe, but I can’t lay claim to having invented it. I don’t remember where I first came across it, but it was many years ago. These cookies are probably the best-loved, most popular things I’ve ever made.
Send questions and comments to Julianne Glatz at email@example.com.
Three-Chocolate, Three-Nut Cookies
1 cup hazelnuts 1 cup walnuts 1 cup pecans 2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature 2 cups sugar 2 cups dark brown sugar 4 large eggs 1 tablespoon vanilla 4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 5 cups oatmeal 8 ounces milk chocolate 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt 2 teaspoons baking powder 2 teaspoons baking soda One bag (approximately 12 ounces) white chocolate chips One bag (approximately 12 ounces) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the hazelnuts in single layer on a baking sheet, then put the sheet in the oven and toast the nuts until their skins have begun to crack and the nuts are fragrant and lightly browned, five to 10 minutes. Wrap the hazelnuts in a lint-free towel or old pillowcase and let them rest until they are cool enough to handle. Massage the nuts in the towel or pillowcase to loosen as much of the skin as possible. Discard the loosened skins and chop the hazelnuts very coarsely. Toast the walnuts and pecans separately (because the times may differ) until they are lightly browned. Let them cool, then chop them very coarsely and set them aside with the hazelnuts. Cream the butter and sugars and add the eggs and vanilla. Place the oats and milk chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and grind them to a fine powder. Combine this powder with the remaining dry ingredients and mix them into the butter/egg/sugar mixture. Stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. Form dough into golf-ball-size balls and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cookies are best if they are slightly underdone. Makes two to three dozen cookies.