Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Birthday Cake? You Say That Like It’s A Bad Thing

It's my birthday, and you can be sure I brought the boys out yesterday to buy a present AND a card. Gift and card notwithstanding, I'm also enforcing the standard we-forgot-to-get-you-a-gift gift: no bickering for 24 hours. By golly, I'll be queen for the day! But I think I’ll skip the birthday cake this year and go with one of my favorite cookies instead.

I have previously mentioned that I am programmed not to follow recipes to the letter. This particular cookie is a family favorite that I invented one day when I was out of peanut butter, but had hazelnuts in the freezer (far stranger things than this happened when we lived 2400 miles from the nearest grocery chain.)

Kwajalein photo courtesy Sue Rosoff Photography.


1 ¼ c all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 c toasted, blanched and cooled hazelnuts
¼ c granulated sugar
½ c butter
½ c brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
Coarse brown sugar (for dipping)
Guittard Bittersweet Onyx Wafers (or Hershey Kisses)

Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Grind the cooled hazelnuts and granulated sugar in a food processor until very fine. Add the butter, brown sugar, vanilla and egg and continue processing until very smooth.

Pour the hazelnut mixture into the flour and stir together until well blended. Use a wooden spoon instead of a mixer to prevent overmixing, which will make the cookies tough.

Wrap the dough in plastic and chill well, or freeze until ready to use. (If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator before shaping).

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Shape the dough into 1” balls, dip into the coarse brown sugar and place about 2” apart on a cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until slightly browned. While the cookies are still hot and on the cookie sheet, press a Bittersweet Onyx chocolate disk (or a Hershey Kiss) into the center of each. Let the cookies set about 5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Note: To toast the hazelnuts, spread them in a single layer on a heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until the oils begin to release and the nuts begin to lightly brown. Alton Brown says if you can smell the nuts toasting you’ve overdone them, but I usually toast them until they are fragrant. Cool the nuts completely before grinding.

  • Mix 12 ounces of chocolate chips into the dough before wrapping and chilling, and skip the chocolate disk at the end. 
  • Skip the chocolate altogether and mix about a cup of coarsely chopped hazelnuts into the dough before wrapping and chilling. 

And in case you're wondering, no, I didn't follow the recipe exactly. I didn't chill the dough.


    1. Happy belated birthday!

      I found your blog through STFU, Marrieds. I, too, am a widow. I was widowed 5 years ago. I'd love to chat.

    2. Wanda, Nice to meet you. I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you have settled into your new life. Who are you on STFUM?