Hazelnut Shortbread

For all my American friends: Happy Thanksgiving!

The squirrels have devoured every single hazelnut in our garden again, but I don’t really mind. I like to see their acrobatics in the bushes and trees, although this year they have been rather sneaky and I’ve hardly seen them!

When I saw a squirrel cookie cutter recently, I knew it would be perfect for this hazelnut shortbread.

This shortbread has that wonderful crisp buttery flavour with an added extra – hazelnutty nuttiness! I also love the slight salty note in shortbread, and this recipe  has that too. In fact I would give it 10 out of 10 for flavour, crunch and appearance, and the consistency was also ideal for rolling out. Just for fun I stuck a few of them together with Nutella – yummy!

Hazelnut Shortbread

For about 60 cookies, you will need:

  • 300g (10.5 oz) salted butter
  • 200g (7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 400g (3 1/4 cups) plain flour
  • 40g (1/2 cup) ground hazelnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Nutella for filling (optional)

Beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Sift in the flour, salt, cocoa powder and nuts. I used a large wooden spoon to blend these in, and then my (cold!) hands to bring it together into a ball. Trying not to handle it too much, wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for at least 45 minutes… the longer the better.

Remove from the fridge and divide; put half back in the fridge. Now roll out your dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Lay on greaseproof paper on a tray that will fit in your fridge – you need to keep these cold till baking. Repeat with the second half of the dough (or freeze it for a rainy day, which is what I did!) and then chill these too, for at least 15 minutes.

Now you can preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Bake the shortbread for 10-15 minutes – watch them the last few minutes as they brown very quickly – you want them to be “golden” brown! Place on a cooling rack. Once cool you can make sandwich cookies by spreading a little Nutella on half of them and placing another cookie on top. Nutella goes well with the hazelnut flavour of the shortbread, and I like them both with and without.

These are going on my Christmas Cookie list – using a festive cookie cutter of course!

Enjoy!

Link for conversion tables:

http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html