As promised is Part I, here is the recipe for Hazelnut Shortbread. As I said previously, this cookie has a beautiful crumbly texture, great hazelnut flavour, and is not overly sweet at all. It may have been my favorite cookie this year.
Again, when baking shortbread, using real unsalted butter is a must. Because there are so few ingredients, butter really plays a starring role, and the flavour will be worth it.
The original recipe directs you to press the dough into two 8-inch cake pans and then score into wedges. I wanted to yield more, smaller cookies, so I shaped the dough into a triangular log, stuck it in the fridge until firm, cut it into slices, and sprinkled each one with raw sugar. The baking time was shorter as well, but I can’t remember exactly how long I baked them for. I would start checking for doneness after about 10 minutes.
(adapted from Hazelnut Shortbread Wedges, Canadian Living Special Cookbook Issue, Fall 2010, pg 52)
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
raw sugar (or granulated sugar), for sprinkling
On a baking sheet, toast hazelnuts in a 350˚ F oven until browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Rub in a clean tea towel to remove most of the skins, and set aside nuts to cool. Once cool grind the nuts in a food processor with the brown sugar.
Beat together butter and hazelnuts/sugar mixture until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour and salt. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a log (triangular if you’re feeling fancy). Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
When you are ready to bake, cut the chilled dough into slices about 1/2 cm thick. Place on parchment paper-lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 300˚ F until golden and firm, checking for doneness after 10 minutes. Remove to rack to cool.
Makes quite a few!