Friday, November 23, 2012

Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies

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.

Bench notes:
- 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 egg
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.


Philadelphia's Finest said...

I feel like Nutella wasn't as popular a few years back but has blown up recently. I even recently saw JIF is making their own version of Nutella...But nothing is as good as the original !! I never realized it was invented by the name sake of the Ferrero Rocher...

pastry studio said...

Philadelphia's Finest, neither did I! I'm a Nutella newbie! I just learned the background on all this. Also didn't know about JIF and I'm sure there must be others.

Bryan said...

Happy belated Thanksgiving :PS!

Yeah, it's weird, maybe it's the Nutella tv commercials, but the spread is sure enjoying a bit of popularity lately.

While it is kind of delicious, I'm not a big fan of stuff in jars or cans with marketing budgets when i can just as easily make it myself.
I've been making homemade hazel-choc spread for a few years and it would be perfect here.
And I'm a sucker for a plain short cookie, esp one with nuts like this one! Can't wait to add this to my repertoire.

pastry studio said...

Hey Bryan! So nice to see ya! Hope you're enjoying the season.

I'm with you on most mass marketed pastry stuff. It's so easy to make great gianduia, which is why I'd never tried Nutella in the first place. But I've been seeing so many ads and recipes that use the stuff that I thought I'd try it. You will enjoy this cookie with your own spread, to be sure.


leena said...

It's so funny when you grow up on something and then it becomes so popular! That's how I feel about the Nutella craze anyway! By the way, the Nutella in the States tastes a lot sweeter than the one I used to have at home. I prefer the less sweet version myself.

Karine Keldany said...

This cookie sounds like perfection to me. I will make them real soon. I am a hazelnut lover and I would add them to chocolate as much as I can. Thank God I am not allergic to them. It would have been a tragedy. Hehehe
Thanks for the recipe!

pastry studio said...

leena, that's a very interesting observation. I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that the American version may be sweeter. It would be useful to compare.

Karine, I'm not sure what it is about hazelnuts, but they are among my favorite pastry items, especially when combined with chocolate. Supremely luxurious! I do hope you enjoy this cookie!

Debby Foodiewife said...

Having spent a few years of my childhood, in Bavaria, I grew to love hazelnuts. They are really popular in Germany, as well as Italy. To this day, Hazelnut Ice Cream is my fave, though it's impossible to find in the US (I really must try creating some.) Anyway,I had never tried Nutella until a month ago. What have I been missing out on? I think I was turned off at the idea of hazelnut spread on bread. Just didn't sound good. But, Nutella in these cookies sounds wonderful. What a great idea, and thanks for sharing this one. Pinned!

Victoria said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

There's one place in NYC where you can get actually Italian Nutella.

These do sound good, and who doesn't love chocolate and hazelnut (?), but I'm really not crazy about Nutella. Perhaps I will mess around and try and come up with my own, as Bryan did, unless you devise one or convince him to share his recipe.

My friend Jane and I just finished making your Linzer Cookies. They look and smell amazing. They are cooling on racks so have not been filled, but I know that they will be delicious. (Plus we have homemade cinnamon gelato to serve with them.)

pastry studio said...

Victoria! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. I hope you love the Linzer Cookies. They are one of my favorites. And with cinnamon gelato - wow!

I think Nutella probably has too many suspect things in it but I had to try it to find out what everyone was talking about.

Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers said...

Your freakish insistance on chilling your dough is completely revealed in your nice photos. It's the only way to get such pretty, perfect cookies. I've become a fan of rolling my nut shortbreads into a log as you suggest. It means that I can slice and bake off only the appropriate amount at a time for our small household, or more when guests arrive, and the extra benefit is that the house has the lovely buttery scent all that many more times. Thanks for your lovely recipe.

Victoria said...

Linzer Cookies were GREAT. Delicious and beautiful - as are all your recipes. Thanks so much.

pastry studio said...

Victoria, fantastic and much appreciated!

Pam, there's really nothing like the scent of baked goods emanating from the oven. There are some new neighbors on my floor and they must be fantastic cooks because the aromas that waft out of their apartment are incredible! I like to hope that I contribute some in that way, too.

HsB said...

my jaw just dropped!!!!! yummy!!!!!!

HsB said...

giveaway on my blog :)

Nathalie Fischer said...

I made a double batch of these -- first for our office cookie exchange and then for the family at Christmas. EVERYONE asked me for the recipe. And I would like to point out that I work at the Culinary Institute of America so when my co-workers ask me for a recipe it must be good! I chilled and rolled mine out so they looked as good as they tasted.

pastry studio said...

Thanks for the very sweet compliment, Nathalie! I'm thrilled to hear everyone enjoyed these easy cookies, especially your discerning colleagues!

Happy New Year to you!!