These cookies are amazing. In fact, so amazing that when I stood in the kitchen filling the buttery disks with Nutella, the smell wafting from them was so overpoweringly wonderful that I couldn't help but grab John by the hand and drag him over to the counter.
"Smell," It was more than a command. An invitation, of sorts, More like, please smell these cookies because oh my they make me want to drool all over the counter and I don't think I've ever smelled anything else even remotely as wonderful.
Hazelnuts are something I've avoided for years. Hayfever morphed into cross reactions years ago and when nuts began giving me an itchy mouth I was advised to avoid them. As a result, the last time I actually ate a hazelnut was about 15 years ago. When we moved to Chilliwack, every time we passed the hazelnut trees down the road I'd gaze wistfully at them, and finally decided that I should just go ahead. In the past few years most of my sensitivities seem to have disappeared, so why not? Besides, my teenager who eats everything would just finish them off.
These buttery, nutty cookies remind me of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. They smell better than anything I've ever baked, and are not difficult to pull off at all.
In Chilliwack, it's not hard to find hazelnuts. We have some farms right here that grow them. Toasted lightly and whizzed up in a food processor, they help make a really tasty dough.
Once cooled and filled with Nutella, you can dust the cookies with icing sugar but you don't have to. I like how the sweet of the sugar plays off the rich buttery cookies and the chocolatey filling. If you choose to dust them, put some waxed or parchment paper under the rack to catch the mess so you don't have to clean it off the counter. I only used a little bit of icing sugar, but you can use more if you want.
1 cup toasted hazelnuts
2 cups of flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup Nutella
icing sugar, for dusting
Toast the hazelnuts: Heat your oven to 350 F. Place the hazelnuts on a dry rimmed baking sheet and set them on the middle rack of the oven. Watch them carefully, stirring every couple of minutes. They should take about 10 minutes. Many recipes say to skin them, but I left the skins on and thought they were just fine. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool to room temperature.
Measure out the flour, baking powder, and salt into a food processor. Add the cooled hazelnuts and process, pulsing until finely ground but not until it becomes a paste.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the egg yolks and vanilla, beating until well blended. Add the flour mixture and blend until a dough forms. Dump the dough out onto the counter and gently kneading, bring it together into two disks. Wrap each in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about an hour.
Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
On a lightly floured counter, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. I used a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter for the bottoms, and a 3/4 inch cutter to create the small hole in the tops. You can use whatever shapes you like, but these sizes seemed to work best for me. Bake the cookies on parchment paper lined sheets for about 8 minutes or so. Let them sit on the sheets for about 5 minutes longer before transfering to the counter or a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool completely before spreading the bottoms with about 1 tsp of Nutella each. If you choose to dust the top pieces with icing sugar, you can do it before you sandwich them together, but I forgot to do that and dusted them after, which worked out just fine.
Makes about 25 cookies
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen