Its here! Its here! Its here! Cookie season (aka the holiday season) is finally here! Nothing makes me as nostalgic as holiday cookie baking. It reminds me of flour covered afternoons in my grandmothers kitchen, rainy afternoons with a plate of homemade cookies by the fire, and frantic christmas eve prep with my mom. Bing Crosby was always there too. He still accompanies me in my kitchen for Holiday cookie baking. And there is nothing to kick off cookie season like these hazelnut shortbread cookies with chocolate ganache. They are warm, nutty, festive and most importantly, chocolatey (have I mentioned how much I love chocolate?) They do take a certain amount of prep. The ganache should be made an hour or two in advance so it may thicken. The hazelnuts have to be toasted and ground into meal before you can make the shortbread. I like to just make an afternoon of it.
8 Oz. Heavy Cream
8 Oz. Dark Chocolate
Bring the cream to a slow boil.
Pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate.
Let it sit for a minute and then stir together until it is smooth and shiny. If there are still lumps you can continue stirring over a pot of steaming water.
Let it cool until it has firmed up, but is still spreadable.
1 Cup Ground Hazelnuts (see instructions below)
1 3/4 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 Tbs + 1 tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 Cup Butter, Softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 tsp Sea Salt or Kosher Salt
4 Tbs Heavy Cream
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Add the hazelnut meal and set aside.
Beat the butter, sugar and salt together until just combined. Not light and fluffy!
Add the dry ingredients and mix until the mixture starts to some together. It should still look a little shaggy when you turn it out onto a well floured table.
Knead the dough until it comes together into a ball. Roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick.
Cut into shapes and arrange on a parchment lined sheet tray.
Place in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.
Pipe the ganache onto the stars and sandwich between two shortbreads. You can also spoon it on.
Dust the tops with powdered sugar.
If you are lucky enough to find hazelnuts out of their skins you are off the hook. All you have to do is put them on a cookie sheet and toast them at 350 until they are slightly golden and fragrant, about 10-15 minutes. Once they have cooled slightly, chop them up in a food processor until they are a coarse meal.
If you are not so lucky, you will have to toast them with their skins on and then rub off as much of the skin as you can once they come out of the oven. Its kind of a pain in the butt, but the skins can be very bitter.