I feel like I've been baking for days. Wait, I have been. The English class for immigrants is having its Christmas party today, and the teachers and aides bring home-made gifts for all the students. I went empty-handed last year because no one told me about that little thing, so this year, I'm prepared. I have been baking hazelnut shortbread cookies.
The students tell me they don't care for sweets the way Americans do. I'm not sure if that's true, or if it's like pretending you can't eat another thing and then finishing off the M&Ms while no one is looking, or maybe they mean it. I have witnessed them scraping off the icing when the teacher gives them cupcakes.
So, I decided to give shortbread cookies, which are sweet but not sickeningly so. Since the recipe makes only 4 dozen, and I wanted to give at least 8 cookies to each of the 15 student, I have had to make three batches. Fortunately, I now have more than I need for gift giving. It's a shame I couldn't possibly eat another thing. wink wink
Here's the recipe:
3/4 cup chopped hazelnuts
1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/3 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons hazelnut liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350˚. Spread hazelnuts onto cookie sheet and roast for four to five minutes. Allow to cool and process in food processor until finely chopped but not ground.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Beat in sugar. Scrape down sides and beat in liqueur and vanilla.
Sift the flour and salt onto a piece of waxed paper. Add to the butter mixture one cup at a time until incorporated. Stir in nuts.
Shape dough into a round and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325˚. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Using a fluted 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out rounds and transfer to prepared pans. Prick each cookie twice with the tines of a fork.
Bake cookies for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. Carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Cookies will keep for 3 to 4 weeks in a tightly closed container.