Hazelnuts, Cocoa Nibs and Cardamom Cookies

Hazelnuts and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations, so it’s no wonder I’ve decided to use both in the form of cookies. To this, I added some cardamom powder, which enhanced the cookies with its wonderful, warm aroma.
To make things even more interesting, I divided the dough in half, and prepared different shaped cookies from each half. Once baked, I also dipped some of the cut-out cookies in melted chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, which made for a more festive presentation.
You can choose which way you prefer for preparing these cookies, or use all, as I have done. Whichever you’ll choose, I’m sure you’ll enjoy these tasty and delicate cookies.

* Cacao nibs are roughly chopped cacao beans. They add a unique crunchy texture and a slightly bitter chocolaty flavor to the cookies. They can be found in specialty stores or online. If you can’t  find them, dark mini chocolate chips can be used instead.
* The baked cookies can keep, in an airtight container, for up to a week. The dough log can be frozen, in a freezer bag, for up to a month. To bake the cookies from frozen, add 2-3 minutes to the baking time given here.

Makes: about 70
Prep time: 25 minutes
Chilling time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 10-12 minutes

1 cup shelled hazelnuts
1 stick (115 grams) butter, soft
1 tsp cardamom powder
¼ cup cacao nibs (see notes)
1¼ cups sugar
1 L egg
1½ cups flour
¼ cup cornstarch
Dash salt
For decoration (optional):
Melted bitter sweet chocolate
Coarsely chopped lightly toasted hazelnuts

1. Place the hazelnuts in a toaster oven and lightly toast them. Cool to room temperature and finely grind them in a spice grinder, or in a small food processor. You should end up with ½ cup hazelnut meal.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the hazelnut meal, butter, cardamom, cacao nibs, sugar and egg. Add the flour, cornstarch and salt and mix briefly, just until the dough is formed.

3. At this point, choose which way you want to prepare the cookies: rolling into logs, or rolling the dough with a rolling pin and cutting with a cookie cutter. I chose to make both, by dividing the dough in half.

4. Option one: roll half of the dough into a log about 1.6” (4 cm) thick, and about 11” (28cm) long. Wrap in wax paper, and place in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 3605F (180C) and line a cookie sheet pan with baking paper. Cut the log with a sharp, heavy knife, into slices, about 0.2”(0.5 cm). Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies start to brown at the edges. Cool to room temperature before serving.

5. Option two: on a lightly floured work space, roll the rest of the dough with a rolling pin, to a thickness of about ¼” (0.6cm). Using a cookie cutter, cut out your favorite shapes. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies start to brown at the edges. Cool to room temperature before serving or decorating.
To decorate: dip each cookie in melted chocolate, and scatter chopped hazelnuts over it. Let the chocolate set before serving.

Upside-down Pear and Cranberry Cake

Once again, I’m back to baking one of my favorite cakes – an upside-down cake. This time I chose Bosc pears to be the star of the fruit layer, to which I also added brown sugar and five spice powder. The powder, which is an aromatic blend mix of cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns, paired beautifully with the pears, and deepened the brownish color of the topping. Continue reading

Vanilla Scented Chouquettes

Chouquettes are the humble, no fuss, relatives of the more stylish Profiteroles, (or as they are known in the US, Cream Puffs); as they are made from the very same dough – Pâte à Choux. Éclair pastries are also made from this dough. Unlike both, Chouquettes are not filled with any cream and are meant to be eaten as a simple snack, soon after baking, or at least on the same day. Continue reading

Flourless Zucchini, Red Onion and Cheeses Bake

After the heavy dinners of this week, it was time for some lighter vegetarian dishes, and, as I often do, I used zucchini as a base for a cheese bake. This bake is one of them: it is hearty and filling, yet not heavy at all, mostly due to the fact it contains no flour or any other starch. Continue reading

Freezer Butter Cookies: One dough, Three Flavors – Take 2

I posted the original recipe for these tasty cookies  almost three years ago (recipe can be found HERE). Since then, I’ve made various variations of the basic dough, but neglected to photograph these variations. Continue reading

Rustic Beef, Leeks and Potato Patties

Leeks and potatoes patties are a favorite of mine, and I make them often, when leeks are in season (click HERE for the recipe). So when I’ve found nice leeks at the store, I was planning on making them again. Continue reading

Sponge Cake with Cranberry Juice and Orange Juice

This tasty cake is yet another variation of my all time favorite sponge cake recipe (posted HERE). In this version, I substituted half of the orange juice with cranberry juice, which gave it another layer of both acidity and sweetens, and pinkish color. Continue reading

Chicken Legs with Mushrooms and Tarragon

Tarragon is one of my favorite herbs, and I always enjoy finding new ways of using it. This time, the tasty classic combination of chicken with tarragon and white wine cream sauce, came to mind, but at the same time, I wanted a lighter sauce. Another favorite pairing – tarragon with mushrooms – also came to mind, and as I had both, it made sense to use them all in one dish. After sautéing the ingredients in a pot, I let it braise in the oven, which resulted an almost fall-of-the bones tender chicken. Continue reading

Oats, Semolina, Yogurt and Sesame Seeds Bread Rolls

These tasty rolls started with some yogurt that was close to expiration date. I decided to use it in the form of a yeast dough, which I enriched with oats, semolina and olive oil. To make it even more nutritious and interesting, I decided to roll the dough in sesame seeds. The seeds added another layer of texture and a nice nutty flavor. Continue reading

Lamb Shanks Stew with Tomatoes, Red wine and Rosemary

The weather is getting cooler, which allows more stews on the menu. At the same time, fresh juicy tomatoes are still available, so before they disappear, I’ve decided to use them in this lamb stew. It was a good decision, as their acidity and slight sweetness balanced the fairly heavy lamb meat beautifully, along with the onion and red wine. Continue reading

Artichoke Hearts with Shrimp Saffron Salad

Artichoke season is here, and as I’m a big fan of this unique vegetable (actually, an edible flower bud from the thistle family), I always try to find new ways to serve it. This time I’ve decided to use the artichoke hearts as a bed for serving a tasty shrimps salad. Continue reading