Cookbook author Cenk Sönmezsoy knows all about transitions. The Turkish baker (and photographer! and stylist!) started his acclaimed blog, Cafe Fernando, after realizing “he’d rather eat glass than sit through another client conference call discussing another ‘groundbreaking’ product” at a PR firm in San Francisco. Over the past 12 years, Sönmezsoy has gone from learning cake baking basics to crafting extraordinary macarons, simits, and tarts, sharing his creations online, and, now, in his latest cookbook, The Artful Baker.
We selected Sönmezsoy’s hazelnut and caramel cookies, which transform in the oven into perfectly crunchy, chewy bites.
“These cookies couldn’t be more different than the way they started out,” Sönmezsoy writes. “First, they were the hazelnut thumbprint cookies I made as an excuse to use the sun-dried, saffron-yellow apricot jam a friend gifted me.”
Next, Sönmezsoy tried thumbprints topped with hazelnuts, then tasted a friend’s version—a simple ball cookie studded with a single whole hazelnut. After much experimentation, Sönmezsoy decided to layer chopped hazelnuts over a mixture of cream, sugar, and more hazelnuts. The creamy mixture caramelizes in the oven, forming a delicious, chewy glue.
“Restraint is not a virtue of mine,” Sönmezsoy says. “I embrace that gladly, because otherwise I would not have come up with a cookie that deserves the description ‘melt in your mouth’ more than any other I have ever baked.”
Hazelnut & Caramel Cookies
- 2 1/2 cups whole blanched hazelnuts
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 stick cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky sea salt such as Maldon