Saturday, November 4, 2017

Toasted Hazelnut Slice 'n Bake Cookies

Toasted Hazelnut Slice 'n Bake Cookies - made dough September 23, 2017 from Sally's Baking Addiction
We’re getting into that time of year where I start thinking about holiday desserts. Wait. That’s a lie. I started thinking about holiday desserts long before now, especially since this year I decided to hold my not-so-annual holiday dessert party again. Plus I’m hosting a family dessert gathering two weeks after that. So it’s time to plan ahead and start the dessert lineup of what I want to serve.

When I make so many desserts for a party, I like to do a mix of easy, do-ahead treats as well as something fancy, may-require-last-minute baking or preparation. I’m testing out these cookies and they fall into the first category. Anything “slice ‘n bake” will almost inevitably do that since, by definition, you can make them ahead of time, pop into the freezer until you need them, then even when you’re ready to bake, all you have to do is (typically) thaw them slightly then slice and bake. No messing about with forming them into any shape, no using cookie shapers or cutters, just you, the cookie log, a sharp knife and a parchment-lined baking sheet.
As always, toast the nuts and let cool completely before incorporating into the dough. That brings out the flavor and adds a little more crunch to your finished cookie. Try to make the cookie logs as evenly shaped and sized to each other as possible from end to end. No tapered ends, no chunky middle. You want each slice of cookie to be as uniform as possible to its cookie brethren.

If you go the sandwich cookie route like I did, this makes it easy to match same-shape cookies for your sandwich cookies. Since this was a hazelnut cookie, the obvious filling to use was Nutella. You could also use cookie butter if you choose. There’s no going wrong with either.
I liked these cookies. The hazelnuts added a nice crunch, as expected, and the cinnamon provided a good flavor, not to mention contributed to the heavenly aroma while these were baking. For once, resist the temptation to underbake them because you do want them baked enough to be crunchy. If you underbake, they won’t have the “snap” to them and will be more chewy. Not necessarily a bad thing but I liked them a little crunchy. The Nutella filling provides a nice smooth-texture contrast to the crunchy cookie.

3/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts, divided
coarse sugar for rolling, optional
8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  1. In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter for 1 minute on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat on medium high until fluffy and creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract, scraping down sides of bowl as needed, until combined.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk flour, cinnamon and salt until combined. On low speed, gradually add into wet ingredients until just combined. Beat in 3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and, with floured hands, divide in half. Shape each half into an 8-inch log, about 2.5 inches in diameter. Tightly wrap the logs in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator at last 4 hours or up to 5 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Remove logs from refrigerator and roll in coarse sugar, if desired. Slice each log into 12 equally thick cookies and place evenly on baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until brown around the edges. Cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet then transfer cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt the chopped milk chocolate in the top half of a double boiler set over hot water. Whisk until smooth and completely melted. Dip half of each cooled cookie in melted chocolate and place on parchment paper. Sprinkle with remaining chopped hazelnuts. Let cool until chocolate has set.

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