Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chocolate Hazelnut Spice Cookies

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone! I  hope you did not run around like a chicken with your head cut off this morning like I did - it seems like everything piles up in those last few minutes before the holidays. 

The past few days, I haven't been getting much sleep. Not by regular standards, but my own normal 9.5 hours a night normal.  Most people do not abhor the mornings like I do.  Instead of just lying there like I usually would, I got up and began to bake.  I am not hosting tomorrow's festivities, which means I must come bearing baked goods. But 7am is early for me… painfully early. I only get up before 9 if I have a good reason.  In general, baking is not a good reason. In general, sleep comes before baking. And before All Other Things, Too.  But baking for Christmas? Well, it will slide this year.
The recipe I’m sharing today is my, well, Gourmet’s CLASSIC.  I follow it verbatim. It works so perfectly there is no need to tweak. I can’t imagine what I would change anyway, everything is in perfect harmony here. The best thing about these cookies besides their very adult flavors of chocolate, hazelnut, cloves, and orange? It is that they improve with age.  Go ahead and bake them up to four days ahead of time and let the flavors mingle.  If you can have cookies sitting in your house that long, I mean.
Third best thing about these little gems: they freeze fantastically well. I like to bake them when I just “feel like baking” and then I always have something in my freezer for the events that cut really close to a work day or a day when I would rather paint my nails than get butter underneath them. Not that butter doesn’t do great things for your cuticles. Sometimes I put butter on them at night before I go to bed to help with the dry winter air.  Not really. But today I got a little butter on my fingertips and used it as chap stickCocoa butter, butter butterwhats the diff?
Ahem. Back to the cookies. So. Get out the foody. Get those hazelnuts toasted. Get started.
yield: Makes 2 1/2 dozen cookies
active time: 45 min
total time: 2 1/2 hr
For cookies:
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts (9 ounces), toasted, loose skins rubbed off in a kitchen towel while still warm, and nuts cooled completely (this is my least favorite part of the whole thing because I am a total perfectionist. If you’re like me and you wont stop until all the skin is rubbed off… Just buy them without the hull. Your thumbs will thank you)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur (Gourmet prefers Frangelico, I got the cheaper one and it has served me well)
For icing:
1/2 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon hazelnut-flavored liqueur
Make cookies: Preheat oven to 325°F with rack in middle. Butter a large baking sheet.
Pulse hazelnuts, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cloves in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped, then add butter and zest and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Add juice and liqueur and pulse until dough comes together into a ball but is still crumbly. Form level tablespoons of dough into balls and flatten to about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, arranging 1 inch apart on baking sheet.
Bake cookies until puffed and slightly cracked, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Make icing while cookies cool: Whisk together all icing ingredients until smooth.
Dip tops of cooled cookies into icing and transfer to a wax-paper-lined baking sheet. Let stand until icing is set.


  1. wow sounds like something i would get at this place up the block called 'the chocolate room' yum yum. also very funny writing. i hope this becomes a regular column.

  2. Glad you like it! Maybe if J Fierce is feeling intrepid will make you a box and mail them to you. OR YOU COULD COME VISIT. Miss you sweetie!

  3. don't count on getting any baked goods mailed to you. i've been waiting five years for my pie...