Right now, hazelnuts are hard to find for me. Apparently my grocery store only sells them around Thanksgiving and Christmas, so in December I stocked my freezer with a few bags. I hope you might have better luck than I do with your grocery store selection. And a note about toasting--you have to toast hazelnuts to get the dark brown skin off because it is bitter tasting. However, because these are going in cookies with plenty of sugar, don't worry too terribly much about perfection; if a few specks of dark brown skin make it in, the cookies will still be fine.
- 1 cup (plus a little more) hazelnuts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Chocolate hazelnut spread
- Begin by toasting your hazelnuts. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread your hazelnuts out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, shaking the pan every few minutes, until the skins look crackly and the nuts themselves begin to turn an almost caramel color. Take the nuts out and immediately place them on a spread out kitchen dish towel. Fold the towel over them and rub them back and forth until the skins all come off. (I think it's useful to toast a few more hazelnuts than you need because I always have some whose skins just will not come off.)
- Place the hazelnuts, flour, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are finely ground (but don't turn to paste).
- Place the butter and both sugars in a large bowl. Beat with and electric mixer until light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and beat to combine. Add the dry ingredients, and beat on low speed just until combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure all ingredients are combined.
- Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour (or even a day or two).
- If you've turned your oven off since toasting the hazelnuts, preheat it to 350 again. Line a baking sheet or 2 with parchment paper.
- Take one dough packet out of the fridge and roll to 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. (I found the dough very difficult to roll at first, but once you get it going, it should warm up pretty quickly so that it can be easily rolled.) Use your desired cookie cutter shape to cut out cookies and place on the baking sheet. Re-roll the scraps (if they become too warm, stick them in the freezer for a couple minutes) in order to use all the dough. Repeat with the other dough packet.
- Bake cookies for 8-9 minutes, until they are beginning to look golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet for a couple minutes; then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling. If you are just using 1 baking sheet, make sure to let it cool a bit before placing a new batch of cookies on it.
- After the cookies have cooled completely, you can spread a bit of chocolate hazelnut spread on the top (however, to be completely honest, I love them without the chocolate spread just as much, if not more).
adapted from Smitten Kitchen