I’ve been on a toasted hazelnut kick lately. Not the kind that’s toasted lightly just until the skin comes off, but the kind that’s toasted until it attains a bronze sheen. The flavour of the hazelnut really intensifies and I don’t see myself using any other method when baking with hazelnuts henceforth.
Once the hazelnuts have toasted gently and are out of the oven and whilst still sizzling, I pulse it in the food processor until it emulsifies into a runny hazelnut butter. I started with 200g hazelnuts and ended up with 185g of hazelnut butter. For the purpose of this recipe you only need 65g of hazelnut butter so you can start with 75g of hazelnuts if you’d like.
The texture of these biscuits is beautifully crumbly (not unlike nankhatai), the kind where you’ll need to cup one hand under your chin to catch the falling crumbs. The addition of chocolate in the middle is a bonus – but something I just had to work in because hazelnut + milk chocolate is such a winning combination.
The only thing I’ll do differently next time is stir in bits of toasted hazelnuts into the dough for extra crunch.
- 75g whole hazelnuts
- 80g butter
- 1 vanilla bean
- 70g light brown sugar (or ground demerara sugar)
- 135g plain flour
- 4g baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- Milk chocolate
- Hazelnut butter:Preheat the oven to 150C/300F. In a baking tray, add all the hazelnuts and toast them. If you're using hazelnuts with skin on, this will be a two-fold process. The first where the hazelnuts are toasted until the point the skins crack and loosen up, and the second, where you can actually see the hazelnut colour change from creamy white to light bronze. If you are using hazelnuts without the skin, you get to skip the first step. Once they've achieved the colour we're after, pulse it in a food processor until it's a smooth paste.
- For the biscuits:In a bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla until creamy and uniform. Add the hazelnut butter and beat until smooth and shiny.
- In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a spatula until the dough comes together. It's a very soft, pliable dough. Refrigerate for 20 minute for easier handling.
- Take a 20g chunk of the dough and roll to form balls. Using the forefinger, make a little indentation in the middle of each biscuit. This is where the chocolate will sit after the biscuits are baked.
- Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 14-15 minutes in an over preheated to 170C, turning the tray after 8 minutes in the oven. Once baked, let them cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet because they're still quite fragile. Then, transfer them to a cooling rack.
- While they're still warm, place a few broken pieces of the best milk chocolate you can (I used Valrhona Jivara) and spread it with a spoon to milk and spread evenly.
- They're good eaten warm, but even better the next day.