Friday, February 20, 2009

Hazelnut Espresso Chocolate Cookies

There are lots of happy marriages in the world of pastry, but few are more luscious, more harmonious and more enduring than the union of hazelnuts and chocolate. In Italy, this especially delicious liaison is called gianduia and is itself an art form. Gianduia gelato, for instance, can leave you hopelessly in love, but more about that another day.

This cookie showcases hazelnuts, chocolate, and to keep things exciting, an extra pinch of espresso, a tickle of spice and a splash of brandy. It’s crisp and buttery but not too sweet or rich - just one more reason to celebrate this indisputably magnificent relationship.

Bench notes:
- I usually chill the rolled-out dough overnight so when the cookies are cut out they maintain their shape when baking.
- Rather than roll out the cookie dough, you can also form into 2 12” x 2” logs, wrap and chill thoroughly. Cut into 1/4” slices and bake.
- If you don’t want to fuss with making a sandwich cookie or dipping in chocolate, simply add 1/2 C chopped semi-sweet chocolate to the dough toward the very end of the mixing. This makes about 40 2" cookies.
- Espresso powder can sometimes be hard to locate. Medalia d’Oro is the best. Check for options at Italian shops and delicatessens.
- Toast hazelnuts in a single layer @ 350° for about 10 to 15 minutes or until the skins look cracked. Watch them carefully as hazelnuts can turn bitter if toasted too long. Remove from the oven and wrap the hazelnuts in a kitchen towel to let steam for 1 minute. Then rub them together to loosen and remove as much of the skins as possible. Cool completely. Keep nuts that aren’t going to be used soon in an airtight container in the freezer.

Hazelnut Espresso Chocolate Cookies
based on a recipe from Cookies and Brownies by Alice Medrich
Makes about 14 sandwich cookies

2 1/2 t espresso powder
1 T & 1 t brandy
1 1/2 t vanilla
8 oz (2 sticks) butter
2 C flour
1 C hazelnuts, toasted
3/4 C sugar
1/4 t salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

6 oz semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
3 oz butter
2 T toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped

Combine the espresso powder, brandy, and vanilla.
Cut each stick of butter into small pieces.

Process flour, hazelnuts, sugar, salt and spices to a fine powder.
Add butter and process until mixture just starts to clump. Add espresso liquid and pulse just until mixed.

Divide dough in half and place each on a piece of plastic wrap. Flatten the dough, cover each portion with another piece of plastic and roll to 1/4” thick round. Place each circle encased in plastic on top of each other on a baking sheet or pizza pan. Chill thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350°.
Cut out cookies with a 2 1/2” cookie cutter and place on baking sheets lined with parchment or silpats.
Bake @ 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes.
Cool completely.

Chop the chocolate into very small pieces. Melt butter and chocolate over a bain marie. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes or so.

Turn over cookies and dollop half of them with a teaspoon of melted chocolate. Take the other half of the cookies and dip a portion of them in the remaining chocolate. Sandwich each cookie and garnish with chopped hazelnuts. Place the cookies on a rack to dry.


VeggieGirl said...

Hazelnuts ALWAYS lend such rich flavor to baked good recipes - yum!!

finsmom said...

The presentation of these is simply stunning!

gail said...

Beeautiful!!! And my 2 favourite ingredients: choco-hazelnut addict I am....

Jesse said...

Oh so true - this is one of the best marriages of flavors. These are really beautiful!

Hayley said...

Your photos are gorgeous, and these cookies sound incredible! Thanks for sharing!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Those look like they would melt in your mouth!

VelezDelights said...

How amazingly delicious!!! =)

Aran said...

what can i say other than i love these flavors and that i would love to have some right now!

Cakespy said...

Beautiful--and what a lovely mingling of flavors. I wish I had some right now!

Bunny said...

These are so pretty, great presentation!

RusticCajun said...

Made these twice so far. Good recipe, good taste, good looks, great compliments.

Website design nyc said...

Nice article

Kristen said...

these look beautiful... for the under 21 crowd, what would be a good substitute for the brandy?

pastry studio said...

Kristen, no need to substitute. If the espresso isn't fully dissolved in the vanilla, add a couple of drops of water.

Sweetie said...

these look lovely! is it possible to substitute instant coffee in this recipe?

pastry studio said...

Thank you, Sweetie. You can substitute instant coffee but you might want to up the quantity since espresso powder is quite strong.

Hannah said...

oh my goodness, these look amazing!!