I purchased some marvelous hazelnut oil from an international grocery store in Seattle a week ago. I finally opened it and inhaled…deeply. The aroma, oh my, the aroma! I bought it with the intention of using it as a finishing oil, primarily for salads and vegetables. But as a I smelled it, I had this vision of hazelnut baked goods fresh from the oven and it occurred to me how absolutely wonderful this oil would be for use in baking as well. Especially baked goods using ground hazelnuts – something to add some extra hazelnut pizzazz to the overall flavor. I immediately thought of hazelnut shortbread and set to work. I’m lucky the shortbread ever made it to the oven because after sampling the shortbread cookie dough, I had to exert a great deal of self-control to keep from eating it all.
First let’s toast the hazelnuts in the oven on a cookie sheet.
The best way to get the skins off is to place the hot hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel and rub them. Don’t worry about getting all of the skins off. Let the hazelnuts cool completely and then grind them.
Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes.
Add the hazelnut oil and vanilla extract.
No, I’m not getting paid by Saveur’s de la Terre to promote their hazelnut oil. I don’t know that theirs is better than any other, it’s just the one I happened to buy and I was very happy with it. So inspired by the incredible aroma that I thought it deserved it’s own picture. And it even got the glossy antique mahogany dining room table treatment. Yes, the oil is that good.
Add the hazelnuts and mix just until combined. If making chocolate hazelnut shortbread cookies, add the cocoa powder in this step.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the wet mixture just until combined. Be careful not to over-stir.
I divided the dough to make half with chocolate.
Form the dough into a log, or two logs if making half with chocolate, about 2 inches in diameter. You can form it in any shape you like.
Wrap the shortbread in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
Unwrap the shortbread and slice in 1/4 inch thick rounds.
Place the shortbread on cookie sheets.
Bake in a preheated oven set to 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until the edges are very lightly browned. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you like, you can dip the cookies in melted chocolate, and then again in chopped hazelnuts, and then let the chocolate set.
I personally prefer them left plain and then eaten with a little Nutella…yummy!
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ⅓ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup ground toasted hazelnuts
- 3 tablespoons cocoa powder (if making chocolate hazelnut shortbread)
- To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a cookie sheet and roast in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 10-15 minutes or until toasted and blistery, tossing occasionally to prevent burning. Remove the hazelnuts and wrap in a clean kitchen towel for a minute, then rub the hazelnuts in the towel to remove as much of the skins as you can. Allow the nuts to cool completely before grinding them.
- Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Add the hazelnut oil, vanilla extract, and ground toasted hazelnuts. Mix until combined. If making chocolate shortbread, add the cocoa powder in this step as well.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour just until combined. Be careful not to over-stir.
- Form the shortbread into a log about 2 inches in diameter and wrap with wax paper. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
- Remove the log from the wax paper and slice in ¼ inch thick rounds. Place the cookies on a cookie sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the shortbread cookies for 10-15 minutes or until lightly golden on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Dip the cookies in chocolate and then chopped hazelnuts and let cool until the chocolate is set, enjoy them plain, or spread them with a little Nutella before eating.