We drag out holidays in my house. One day just isn’t enough of a celebration. 😉
We were so busy eating leftover Mardi Gras King Cake on Valentine’s Day, I had to make a belated Valentine’s Day dessert! The truth is that I was procrastinating a little bit. As much as I wanted to make this special dessert for my husband, I really didn’t want to peel the hazelnuts. I was quite happy to find a method to remove the skin by blanching the nuts. This method is a little bit time-consuming but it completely removes the bitter skin. Yay!
These cookies were very special- completely worth every minute of work. My husband wants me to add them to our Christmas cookie assortment! (in a different shape, of course) The blanching method used to peel the hazelnuts was adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum, via Fine Cooking.com. The cookie recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Wonderful!
Yield: 9 3-inch sandwich cookies and 14 2-inch heart cookies
- 4 1/2 oz (1 cup) raw hazelnuts
- 4 T baking soda, for blanching the hazelnuts
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup raspberry jam, for filling
- 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
To Blanch, Peel, and Roast the Hazelnuts:
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection roast.
- Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Add 4 T baking soda and the hazelnuts.
- Boil for 3 minutes- expect the water to turn black. Run a nut under cold water and see if the skin slips off easily. If not, boil the nuts a little longer until the skins slip off.
- Strain and then cool the nuts under cold running water, slip off the skins, blot dry with paper towels.
- Place peeled nuts on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast in the preheated oven for 7 to 10 minutes, until fragrant.
- Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature.
- Pulse the nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
To Make the Cookies:
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.
- Whisk the ground hazelnuts into the flour mixture; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and granulated sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the egg yolks, vanilla, and lemon zest; beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- With the mixer on low-speed, add hazelnut-flour mixture, and beat until just combined, about 10 to 15 seconds.
- Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface or onto plastic wrap. Divide in half and shape into flattened disks.
- Wrap in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. (I refrigerated overnight.)
- Remove one disk of dough from the refrigerator, and let stand until softened slightly. (This will help keep the dough from cracking when rolled.)
- Between layers of plastic wrap or on a large piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour, roll dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap in plastic wrap and transfer to a baking sheet. Place in freezer and freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.
- Repeat with second disk of dough. (You can stack the parchment and dough in the freezer.)
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, preferably on convection. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Remove one sheet of dough from the freezer. Working quickly, cut into heart shapes with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Cut out the center from half of the shapes with a 2-inch cutter. (If the dough begins to soften too much, return to the freezer for a few minutes.)
- Transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. (I kept the similar shaped cookies on separate sheets as they had the same baking time.) Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Repeat with second sheet of dough.
- Bake on the center rack, one cookie sheet at a time, rotating halfway through, until cookies are crisp and lightly golden all over, about 17 minutes for full 3-inch hearts and 15 minutes for the open hearts and full 2-inch hearts.
- Let cool slightly on cookie sheet and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. (Cooled cookies can be stored overnight in an airtight container at room temperature before filling.)
- Spread the flat sides of the whole hearts with jam.
- Sift confectioners’ sugar over the open hearts.
- Just before serving, top open hearts with jam. Cookies should be eaten the day they’re filled.
Christmas 2020 Update: I made 2 1/4-inch rounds with Christmas tree cutouts. I put 12 cookies on each baking sheet. The whole cookies baked for 14 minutes, the cutouts for 12 minutes, and the reserved trees for 10 minutes. Wonderful!
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