It’s the time of year for cookie baking and I loved these hazelnut and cocao nib sandies so much, I just had to share. The combination of hazelnuts, cocao nibs and a generous dip in milk chocolate (with a sprinkling of salt), where hard to resist. They are perfect for holiday baking, as they are simply slice, bake and dip. As they keep really well too, they would make great holiday gifts.
This hazelnut cookie recipe is perfect for holiday baking or gift giving!
Cocao nibs may not be something that everyone has around. I’ve had some in my cupboard for a bit and have never really known what I’d do with them. If you’re not familiar with them, they are raw, unsweetened bits of cocao beans. They provide pure chocolate flavour, without the sweet. In these cookies, they complement the hazelnuts perfectly. Combine that with the dip of sweet milk chocolate (and a sprinkle of salt) and the taste combination is such a lovely experience.
As cocao nibs are full of anti-oxidents and other nutrients, look for them in the health food section of your grocery, probably in with the natural cocoas. If all else fails and you can’t get your hands on any, use a chunk of bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate instead.
- 1 1/2 cups hazelnuts
- 1/3 cup cocoa nibs (or can substitute chopped bittersweet or unsweetened chocolate)
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp.cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. kosher salt (use less if you're using salted butter)
- 1/2 tsp.cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cups confectioners (icing) sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
- 12 ounces high-quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
- Fleur de sel or other salt, for garnish (optional)
- In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts and cocoa nibs until coarsely ground. Place into a medium bowl and whisk in the flour, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle or a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter with the confectioners sugar and vanilla bean paste at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until incorporated. Remove the dough to a work surface and form into a ball. Halve the dough, then shape each half into a 1 1/2 -inch square log and wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap. Freeze until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight. (If well frozen, allow to stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before trying to slice).
- Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Working in 2 batches, cut the cookie-dough logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices and arrange on the prepared sheets at least 1 inch apart. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom. Rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- For the chocolate dip: In a medium saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer. Place the milk chocolate in a heatproof small bowl and set it over the saucepan. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth. Remove the saucepan from the heat, leaving the bowl of chocolate on top. Dip 1 corner of each cookie in the chocolate to coat halfway, letting the excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Transfer the cookies to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. If desired, while chocolate is still moist, sprinkle lightly with a bit of salt and then refrigerate on the baking sheet until the chocolate is set, about 20 minutes.
Adapted from Food & Wine Dec 2014