Monday, September 26, 2011

Hazelnut Sandies

Nuts about Nuts - Chapter I

Hazelnut Sandies

I am starting a new series here called the 'Nuts about Nuts' edition. One simple reason: I am nuts about Nuts.  Its in my genome. I come from a family that has emphasized the goodness of the few blanched almonds in the morning cereal since we were kids. The pistachio and honey in the baklava make a world of a difference to me. The chopped and toasted macadamia nuts that would adorn our birthday cakes when we were growing up were a classic. I turn to mom-made peanut butter sandwiches for comfort. Heck, even Oreo loves peanut butter. Using it in my food adds a certain oomph and feel good factor to seemingly regular fare.True, my repertoire of nuts has been restricted to very very few. So i decided to forage. The current discovery chez Zachs is the infinitely good (read addictive) and flavorful hazelnut.

This cookie is essentially an icebox cookie. Icebox cookies are cookies made from a dough which has been refrigerated or frozen, typically in a log shape. The chilling of the dough makes it easy to work with but more importantly, keeping a batch in the freezer ensures the quickest cookie gratification. The dough keeps for upto a month when tightly wrapped in the freezer.

The recipe has been adapted and halved from here. Thank you Bakingdom! For a batch of 18 hazelnut sandies, you will need:

3/4 cup hazelnuts - toasted and skinned*
1/4 cup sugar
1/8 cup brown sugar
1 small egg yolk
80 g butter
1/4 teaspoon salt

 How you go about it:

-Line your baking tray with baking paper and preheat oven to 175 C.
-Process the hazelnuts till you get the closest you can to a fine powder. (It will be mealy, but no worries)
-Sift together the flour and salt and add the sugars and and blitz it in the processor till it is all well mixed. (Scrape at the bottom and make sure all the that it becomes a homogeneous mixture)
-Add the cold and diced butter over the mix and keep pulsing. The mix will now look like coarse, wet sand.
-While the processor is running, add the egg yolk and continue to mix till it clumps into a ball.
-Divide the dough into two halves and shape them into evenly shaped logs 2" in diameter. Wrap in cling film and freeze for 30 min.

 -Remove from the freezer, remove the cling, and with a sharp edged knife, cut slices of .3" width. Rotate the log every few slices to ensure that you get round slices.

(You may taste the dough at this point. and marvel at that delish taste. i had to keep myself from eating up a substantial amount of dough. Yes, i am weird)

-Bake for 15 - 20 min till evenly baked (rotate the tray halfway through). The cookies will get some color and will be soft to touch but will set as they cool. Keep aside on a wire rack to cool.

Now onto the beautification (not that it needs any, but how can you say no to the eternal combination of chocolate with hazelnuts???)

-Melt 7 squares of milk chocolate in a bain marie and once it's cooled, pour into a piping bag or improvise and cut a tip off a zip lock bag. Or you could use nutella (evil grin).

-Once the cookies have cooled, drizzle the melted chocolate. Keep aside to set. or if you are anything like me or my better half, unabashedly wolf down four in a go (If Oreo were given a chance, she'd single handedly finish the jar). Welcome to my world!

P.S: As you can see, i did freak out with the piping bag and doodled away to glory. It tasted just as yum, nonetheless! :)
Moving on, if  you thought that these cookies could'nt get any better, here' a tip. (My better half is forever looking for ways to improvise and eat ice cream and this time, he may have hit the jackpot). Crumble a cookie over a scoop of vanilla ice cream and dig in . i guarantee you nirvana. Really!

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