Saturday, September 18, 2010

Hazelnut cookies and homemade Nutella!

It's been a fantastic summer here in Southern California, cool and pleasant.  A shame to see it go, but fall is coming, as we can tell by the leaves on the driveway and the hazelnuts being sold in stores (and the Christmas decorations at Kohl's... good grief....)  I saw hazelnuts at Trader Joe's today, and recalled that the latest Martha Stewart Living magazine had featured hazelnuts, and, well...

Hazelnut cookies
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup roasted hazelnut meal
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Beat butter and sugar with a mixer till fluffy.  Add flour, hazelnut meal, and salt.  Beat until dough forms.  (This isn't in the recipe, but I had to add about two teaspoons of half and half to make dough form; it was too crumbly without it.  You could use milk too, just enough to bind it all together.)

Roll dough into 1-inch balls and transfer to baking sheets (use parchment paper if you've got it).  Press balls with a fork to flatten.  Bake until edges are golden, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool.

Such a simple recipe!  Assuming you own a food processor, of course; it ain't happening without that.

So I bought the raw hazelnuts and roasted them at 350°F for about 17 minutes.  You must roast them; it completely changes the flavor.  Anyway, raw hazelnuts have something in them that irritates my throat.

Here are the raw hazelnuts and the magazine the recipe's from (which had a ton of other hazelnut recipes-- I still want to try the hazelnut pancakes!)

And here they are after roasting.

You can see how the dark skins flake off easily when they're roasted.  I rubbed the hazelnuts together in my hands to remove most of the skins, leaving this:

Then I ground those suckers down to hazelnut meal:

Mix that with the butter, sugar, salt and flour.  Add milk or cream if needed, until you get dough:

Roll the dough into balls and mash 'em with a fork.  Use the universally-acknowledged code for nut cookies: a crisscross pattern means peanut butter cookies, while parallel lines mean hazelnut.  (I totally just made that up.)

Then bake them.

And eat them!

Now friends, I didn't mean to make two different sweets in one day.  Even I am not normally that decadent.  But the problem was, the cookies called for half a cup of hazelnut meal and I didn't know how many nuts to grind for that, so I had meal left over.  And lo, Martha had a recipe for homemade Nutella that let me use up that meal (plus grind more).  So rather than wash the food processor only to drag it out again another day...

Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread

7 ounces blanched hazelnuts, toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted.

Puree nuts and salt in a food processor until mixture is the texture of peanut butter.  Add sugar and chocolate; pulse until combined.

I ground up a bunch of hazelnuts to the consistency of peanut butter,

And added sugar, salt, and melted chocolate.

So simple, so good!!!

Nutella is perfectly smooth, while my homemade spread is a bit grainy.  And Nutella stays spreadable even if you put it in the fridge, whereas the homemade stuff gets pretty solid when cold.  Also, they don't taste quite the same; there's a different flavor profile.  The real Nutella might have more salt; I'm not sure.  They're both scrumptious.

You can put homemade Nutella on French bread, water crackers, a spoon, your finger, whatever.  What should I put my Nutella on?  I can't decide.  There's probably something in my kitchen that'd be perfect topped with Nutella.  What could it be?  While I think about it, here's a final picture of today's goodies:

This was my 700th blog post and I think the subject was appropriate, don't you?


Anna B said...

Nutella is good with absolutely everything. It's like the Swiss army knife of spreads. (Leave it to the Swiss. My foster dad is one and, I tell you, every cliché is true.)

Nutella on regular bread, on slices of apple (this is illegal in 27 countries, of course, because OH THE UNHEALTHY), oh, and do try the peanutbutter-nutella sandwich (spread one slice of bread with peanut butter and another with nutella, if you try to layer it there will be Mess).

Rachel Gray said...

Heeheehee.... OH THE UNHEALTHY! So true. :) That sandwich sounds good; I wonder if you could do a layer of marshmallow creme on one side...

Laetitia Crucis said...

If I weren't entering the convent, I would seriously invest in a food processor.


Oooh -- and I second the PB+Nutella... AND WITH MARSHMALLOW CREAM!!! "YUM!" doesn't even begin to describe it.

Rachel Gray said...

I wonder if your English Dominicans have a food processor...? :)

Laetitia Crucis said...

I have hopes for one.

I am bringing "The Joy of Cooking" with me. Hahahahaha!!!

Vincenzo said...


Cathy_of_Alex said...

That looks really good!

Anna B said...

I think that if you add marshmallow cream, the orthogonal sugar and fat waves emanating from the sandwich could be used as a superweapon.

Laetitia Crucis said...

I have that issue of Martha Stewart Living. I saw all those hazelnut recipes... and I drooled.

I think perhaps dipping those cookies into your homemade Nutella could be a glorious thing indeed... ;)

Erin said...

Huh. It looks like I have some hazelnut meal hanging out in my fridge... wonder if anyone knows of any good dessert recipes that call for that... Oh hey! :D

Rachel Gray said...

Vincenzo and Cathy, thank you. :) Anna B, with great power comes great responsibility. Laetitia, I ate 'em both up before I even got around to combining them! Erin, were you making something else with the hazelnut meal?

Erin said...

Well, yes, I cook with a variety of flours because I have celiac disease. So basically I can't have anything with wheat, barley, or rye in it. There's no one good replacement for wheat-based flours, however, so I probably have about... oh, I want to say 20 or so bags of flour in my cupboards. They're small bags, but still. And the hazelnut meal and flaxmeal lives in my fridge because they spoil so much faster at room temp than I can use them.

As for what I actually make with it... usually pie crust. I haven't found a great recipe for hazelnut pie crust though, sadly. It also goes great tossed into bread recipes. For a bread recipe calling for 2 cups of flour, I would add in about 1/2 cup of hazelnut meal. While other things about gluten-free bread making are wildly different from regular bread making, that flour/meal ratio stays approximately the same for regular bread too.

Rachel Gray said...

Avoiding wheat sounds like quite a job!

I bet hazelnuts would be good in pie crust if there was a good recipe.

Erin said...

I think next time I'll mix the hazelnuts w/ some all-purpose (gluten free for me) flour and see how that goes. Ooo.... mmm, okay, I had a better idea! Stick some gingersnaps in the food processor and mix w/ hazelnuts. Would ginger and hazelnuts go well together?

Rachel Gray said...

I've never tried that combo, but now I want to. :)