The popularity of Nutella is pretty staggering. But I have to confess, for someone who loves the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate - giandiua in Italian - I'd never tasted Nutella. In order to remedy that, I set off to make a cookie that incorporates it.
Nutella was created in Italy in the 1940s by Pietro Ferrero, a confectioner who also later developed the tremendously popular Ferrero Rocher hazelnut chocolates. Since chocolate was in short supply at the time due to rationing, Nutella spread was made with cocoa rather than chocolate and that's how it's made today. Nutella was introduced to a broader market in the early 60s and the rest, as they say, is history.
I've gotten into the habit of making cookies in my food processor, so this recipe is pretty quick to produce. The cookies are crunchy, crumbly and nutty. For a simple Hazelnut Sandie tea cookie, they're good served plain. But for something more adventurous, make them into sandwich cookies with a dollop of Nutella.
- Toasting nuts brings out their oils and heightens their flavor. Toast hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for about 8 - 10 minutes. Watch them closely as they will taste bitter if they are left too long.
- I'm kind of a freak about chilling cookie dough to be sure the cookies hold their shape when baked.
- If you prefer, roll the dough into logs. Chill until firm. Slice about 1/4" thick and bake. You'll get more cookies that are smaller in diameter.
- Add an extra pinch of salt if you enjoy a salty nut cookie.
- Although I didn't have any on hand, I was tempted to add a small dab of natural raspberry jam as well. Or, if you prefer, simply fill the cookies with about 4 oz chocolate melted with 2 oz of butter.
Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies
Makes 32 cookies; 16 sandwich cookies
2 C flour
1 1/4 C powdered sugar
3/4 C (about 3 1/2 oz) toasted hazelnuts
1/4 t salt
8 oz (16T) cold butter
1 t vanilla
Place flour, powdered sugar, toasted hazelnuts and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the nuts are finely ground.
Cut the cold butter into small 1/2" cubes and add to the flour and nut mixture. Process until the mixture looks like coarse meal, about 10 seconds. Combine the egg and vanilla and add. Process until the dough starts to form clumps around the center of the machine and holds together when pinched.
Divide the dough in half and place each portion on a piece of plastic wrap. Put another piece of plastic wrap over the top of each portion of dough and flatten into discs. Using a rolling pin, roll out each disc of dough between the two sheets of plastic wrap to a circle about 10" in diameter. Slide onto a baking sheet or pizza pan and chill thoroughly.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpats.
Cut out cookies using a 2 1/2" cookie cutter. Gently re-roll scraps for additional cookies. Place 12 cookies per baking sheet. Press a whole hazelnut into half of the cookies. Bake until just lightly browned around the edges, 10 - 12 minutes. Place the pans on a wire rack to cool completely.
Spread a dollop of Nutella on the underside of half the cookies. Top with remaining halves.