While last Christmas seemed to be all about peanut butter cookies, this past Christmas was all about shortbread and hazelnut cookies. I really got into the art of the slice and bake with some real tests of patience in waiting for dough to freeze and thaw out again.
When I found a half empty bag of hazelnuts in my pantry, I put them to good use in baking these cookies. Mixed with some butter, flour, and sugar, these were perfection - but then again, anything with butter, flour, and sugar can be whipped into perfection.
Recipe testing can be a long process, as I'm sure many cooks and bakers can relate to. I have countless recipes that need a liiitle more tweaking or just haven't made it onto the blog, even if I found the original recipe somewhere else. I always change or alter something to fit my tastes and preferences. I think I baked these cookies a total of four times over the past couple months, and the biggest problem I had was getting the size of these right. I think that's a good sign.
These cookies are so, so simple to make: just grind everything up in a food processor, shape the dough, freeze, thaw, slice, and bake. They're so tiny that they're almost (at least in my head) guilt-free, and the perfect addition to a cup of coffee or tea.
I tried this with regular and gluten-free flour and they both turned out identical, texture-wise. It depends on the brand of GF flour you decide to use, but the flavor might just be ever-so-slightly different.
Recipe adapted from epicurious:
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts (2 oz) (already toasted and without skin, if possible)
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour OR gluten-free all purpose flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
- (*If making these GF, then add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum)
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
2. Toast the hazelnuts for 6-8 minutes until the skins start to loosen OR in a skillet on the stove. Remove the skins and let the nuts cool.
3. Pulse nuts and 1/4 cup of sugar in a food processor until the mixture is finely ground. Add flour and butter and continue to pulse until a dough forms. Divide the dough in half and roll onto a surface dusted with flour.
4. Roll the dough into 2 11-inch logs about 1 inch wide.
5. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for about one hour.
6. Cut logs into 1/2 inch thick slices.
7. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the edges turn golden.
8. Dip the tops of the cookies in the remaining sugar and cinnamon. Let cool.
I'm telling you, there's something magical about the addition of hazelnuts in these cookies. They are nutty, decadent, but also the perfect mini treat. Even though the holidays have passed, you can bet I'll be making this to get me over the cold winter months.