Hazelnut Hearts

I was reading Winnie the Pooh the other day and it reminded me of how much I like long, rambling chapter titles that give you the entire contents of what you are about to read. For example, today’s title might be “In which our Heroine attempts to fulfill her Obligations, encounters Difficulties and makes an Interesting Discovery.” See? Now you know how my Valentine’s cookie baking went– I needed to make them for a work staff association fundraiser but ran out or butter (resulting in only a half recipe) and had perpetually sticky dough which I had to refrigerate/freeze between cutting out shapes. I’d decided to make Linzer cookies, but with hazelnuts instead of almonds. Heart shaped Linzer cookies are about the cutest thing for Valentine’s day you ever saw. The Interesting Discovery? These (just the cookie part, no jam) taste exactly like Nuss-stangeli. For those of you who don’t know what Nuss-stangeli are, they’re a crunchy Swiss Hazelnut cookie, and the reason you don’t know what they are is because I’ve only ever seen them in Switzerland. This recipe is slightly different because my cookies are NOT jawbreakingly hard, but the flavor is just right.
Hazelnut Hearts
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
1 egg white
1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
1 cup flour
1 t. cinnamon
pinch salt
1/2 cup blackberry jelly
Preheat oven to 375. Cream the butter and sugar and beat in the vanilla and egg white. Add the nuts, flour, cinnamon, and salt and stir together. Roll out between 2 lightly floured sheets of wax paper to ~1/8 inch thickness. Chill until firm enough to cut.
Using a medium heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the dough into cookies. Use a smaller cutter of the same shape to cut out the centers of HALF the cookies. Put on cookie sheets and bake ~seven minutes until set. Cool completely.
Meanwhile, boil the jelly for about 2 minutes on the stove or in the microwave. Cool slightly and spread onto the back side of a complete heart, leaving a little space around the edges. Put one of the cut-out edge hearts on top and press down lightly, then leave to set before packaging. Makes about 18.

Recipe notes: Boiling the jelly makes it easier to spread and also causes it to set firmer, holding the cookies together instead of slithering about between them.
You may use whatever cutter shape you like, just as long as you have a larger and a smaller. They don’t even have to be the same. For example, you could do a circle with a little heart or star cut out of the middle.
You may either bake the cut-out pieces separately for miniature heart cookies or roll them back into the dough.

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One Response to Hazelnut Hearts

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