It was World Nutella Day recently. You will recall a couple past years here at Lemon Tart, where cookies and profiteroles made an appearance with the beloved Nutella. Everywhere in the world people were smearing this beloved chocolate hazelnut spread on everything, with reckless abandon. While I haven't the childhood nostalgia to go with this gooey phenomenon, I certainly understand that combining chocolate and my favourite nut is a really really good idea.
When brainstorming about what I would be making on the occasion of World Nutella Day I already had my star ingredient stashed away ready for its debut here. A Nutella of a different name you might say, this years player was Askinosie, a relatively new bean to bar American chocolate maker. On the infrequent occasions I've been able to grab a few bars it is one of my all time favourite chocolate makers anywhere in the world. I picked up this spread above while in San Francisco at my dream neighborhood grocery, Bi Rite, and snapped it off that shelf as if it was the last one on earth. What sets this spread apart from other similar spreads is that this is the only Bean to Spread product. Rather than simply mixing the ingredients together, they mix full flavoured Washington hazelnut butter with the cacao beans in the chocolate making stage. I knew this stuff would be special, and oh it is, the most full flavoured spread of its kind I've come across. So this needed a simple recipe to properly show it off.
Sandwiching nutella or any other chocolate hazelnut spread between two cookies is not a new idea. In fact, aside from smearing it on toast, Euro-style, it seems to be made for that application. And as for a spread of this quality, there seemed no better way to showcase it than between two buttery crispy shortbread cookies full of my best Hazelnuts, from Oregon actually. Well, that's after licking it straight off of a very chic spoon, which as you can see I already did!
I remembered such a cookie worthy of this application. A sandwiched cookie full of tasty nutella that even after being made for a few days and shipped, came to me crispy and crunchy, yet still not overbaked. While I've made nut shortbread cookies filled with everything from Dulce de Leche to chocolate raspberry jam to ganache, all of them were tender and void of that crunch I crave.
What was even better is that all of these cookies were really good! Should I have been surprised? Well, no, not at all, but given that the gesture and thought were a gift in themselves, the fact that each of these cookies got gobbled in a couple short days, speaks to their quality. With the very gingery gingersnaps taking a close second place, the sandy, crispy and thin cookies sandwiched between Nutella were the ones DG and I fought over. Lisa graciously offered her recipe and it is these chain of events which instills in me yet again the power of food and friendship. To further celebrate the beauty of Nutella, Lisa and and I finally met recently. I look forward to more future food experiences together, with or without Nutella.
Nutella Sandwich Cookies
adapted from Lisa's original recipe
125g or 1 level cup whole hazelnuts, skinned or unskinned
1 cup unsalted butter, at or close to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
1/8 tsp salt
Using a food processor, pulse the whole hazelnuts until finely chopped without becoming meal.
Place butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl, beat until light in texture and the butter and sugar are well blended. This is easily done the old fashioned way by hand, which prevents the possibility of over beating too much air into the mixture to make nicely textured shortbread cookies.
After about 2 minutes of vigorous mixing, stir in the flour and salt gently until almost incorporated, then stir in the hazelnuts until combined. Over-beating will make a tough cookie, not at all like the crispy beauties these should and can be.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap, slightly flattened and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.
Set oven to 350F.
Remove from fridge and let warm up about 10 minutes, then roll them between two pieces of parchment paper evenly to no thicker than 1/8 of an inch. This thinness is what will make for a crispier cookie. You can roll slightly thinner if you'd like, it will make for a more delicate cookie. Using a 1 1/2 inch round cookie cutter, cut out as many as you can. Re roll scraps no more than twice more. Place on a parchment or silicon lined baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Freeze until firm while oven is heating.
Bake one sheet at a time for about 12 minutes until golden tinges appear on the edges and they are evenly cooked. Undercooking will make a more tender cookie, without the crispy factor that I think make these cookies so good, as well as not allowing the hazelnuts to properly toast. Cook these longer than most shortbread, but not to the point of brown all over.
Cool on a rack and then spread with nutella. I keep baked cookies in their own container and fill them as needed. The cookies will last for up to a week that way. Extra dough can also be frozen 2 months.
Previous Nutella Days at Lemon Tart can be found here: