Sunday, November 15, 2015
Hazelnut Praline Cookies
These are lovely, delicate little cookies just as they are, but the easy addition of Nutella, either dipped right in the jar, or spread as icing, makes them even better. And no wonder. As I was browsing in the cookbook, I noticed that this cookie dough is actually the crust from Chocolate Hazelnut Mousse Tart, so why wouldn't they go well with a chocolate hazelnut spread?
The first step is to make some hazelnut praline. This is not difficult, but it is time-consuming because first you have to take the skin off the hazelnuts.
It seems like a very small pile of hazelnuts until you start skinning each one individually. The skins come off fairly easily, but the unskinned hazelnut pile seems to grow larger by the minute. Jim offered to help me skin them. At first I said it was OK, I could do it. After I did a few, though, I pressed him into service.
Once they're all skinned, the pile looks small again. Amazing what these optical illusions can do. You can see that there are small bits of skin clinging stubbornly to the nuts. If I were Rose or Woody, I'd have used a paring knife or my fingernail to get those pesky pieces, but I'm not and I didn't.
Oh, but don't think you're done just because you now have a bunch of naked hazelnuts. You still have to make a small amount of caramel. That 350-degree reading is actually on its way up to 368, which is when I took the pan from the heat.
By far the most fun in this project was pouring the lovely brown, thick caramel over the nuts and watching the caramel harden before your eyes.
Just a swirl in the food processor, and you have your Hazelnut Praline Powder. Rose kindly gives you the option of using hazelnut praline paste, along with canola oil, instead of the homemade powder. Whether you buy the paste or make the powder, it's very easy to make the cookie dough once you've got the hazelnut base. Because the recipe for the powder makes about twice as much as you need for a batch of cookies, it's logical to double the recipe.
All the usual cookie ingredients simply get processed in a - what else? - food processor.
The dough is so soft that even if you have somehow missed the instruction to refrigerate it for at least an hour, you'll figure out on your own that you'd better do that.
And hey presto! You have 30 petite and crispy cookies. They definitely taste like hazelnuts, although I couldn't taste the caramel as much as I'd hoped.
I baked my first batch for a total of 12 minutes, and the edges got a little dark, although not burned. The second batch was in for 10 minutes total, so if your oven tends to run hot, watch these little guys very carefully.
If you have some leftover chocolate ganache, that would also be very nice, but I'm not sure that anything could beat a simple dunk in a jar of Nutella.