Hazelnut Cookies

Hazelnut Cookies

Hazelnut Cookies

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s now officially time to start panicking. If your cookie jars are still half-empty, you’re in for some serious baking. Luckily, I’ve got a fabulous cookie recipe for you – flaky, nutty, buttery and versatile.

Okay, that’s not entirely true. When I say “buttery”, I actually mean “lardy”. They could be buttery if you insist on using butter, but I advise you not to. It is in your best interest to use lard. Pork fat is some pretty awesome stuff. Trust me.

Hazelnut Cookies

Lard, as it turns out, is actually better for you than butter. Believe it or not, lard is mostly unsaturated fat, the kind that is better for you, while butter is mostly saturated fat. And that’s just one of many reasons why you should start using lard, especially in baking.

Cookies and pie crusts made with lard are insanely good. Lard makes them extra flaky, but not crumbly. The texture is hard to describe, really. They’re crisp, but so gentle and fragile that they instantly melt in your mouth.

Hazelnut Cookies

Bear in mind that lard will sometimes bring a more savory note to your baking which can add a nice complexity and depth. This is true for these hazelnut cookies. They’re wonderfully nutty, but not sweet, which is why dulce de leche filling works magic here. Nutella pairs wonderfully with these little cookies, as well. I filled some of the cookies with raspberry jam, but I wasn’t impressed. If you opt for the jam filling, I suggest you use a sweeter jam or dust the cookies heavily with powdered sugar.

Hazelnut Cookies

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Hazelnut Cookies

Yields 80-100 cookies
Prep time: + dough chilling time
Cook time:
Total time:
Difficulty: Basic

Category: Cookies
This recipe uses lard, which gives the cookies extra flakiness and that melt-in-the-mouth effect. If you’re not comfortable using lard, feel free to use butter, but bear in mind that the cookie will have a slightly different texture. Make sure the butter is at room temperature and be careful when adding flour. Add just enough to form the dough into a ball. It is also crucial that you let the dough chill for a couple of hours, preferably over night, especially if you used lard. You could also use a combination of lard and butter. The cookies are nutty and not really sweet, which is why dulce de leche works magically as a filling. Nutella works great, too. If you want to fill them with jam, choose sweeter flavors or dust the cookies heavily with powdered sugar.
For the hazelnut cookies:
Ingredients
200g lard (or butter), at room temperature
130g sugar
1 tbsp vanilla sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
40g sour cream
130g ground hazelnuts
400-420g all-purpose flour
Directions
In the bowl of your standing mixer cream together lard, sugar and vanilla sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk one at the time and mix until well incorporated. Stir in sour cream and hazelnuts. Gradually add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon, until you get a dough that can be shaped into a ball. You may need to use a bit less or more flour, depending on the lard or the type of fat you decide to use. Try not to overmix the dough. It will be soft and that's fine. Try no to not add too much flour. Once the dough has enough time to chill, it will be fine.
Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface and divide it in half. Shape each half into a flattened disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 3 hours, preferably over night.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a well floured surface, roll dough until it’s 3-5 mm thick. Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters. Carefully transfer to prepared baking sheets. Re-roll scraps and cut out shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven as soon as they start to get color on the edges. They should stay light in color and only get a slight light-brown color on the bottom. While hot, the cookies are still a bit soft but once they cool down, they firm up. Cool completely on wire rack before filling. Plain cookies can be kept in an airtight container for up to 4 weeks.
For the filling:
Ingredients
dulce de leche
Nutella or other chocolate hazelnut spread
raspberry jam (or any other flavor you like)
melted dark chocolate (to decorate the cookies)
Directions
To assemble the cookies, spread about a teaspoon of your desired filling on the bottom side of one cookie and top with another cookie. Sandwich the cookies together and transfer to an airtight container. You can also dip some of the cookies into melted dark chocolate. Place the chocolate covered cookies onto a piece of baking paper until the chocolate sets and then transfer the cookies into an airtight container. The sandwiched cookies can be kept for 2 weeks.

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