Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hazelnut-Dark Chocolate Shortbread Sticks

 This recipe is actually a throw-back to my Christmas baking but I never got around to posting it, and luckily it's not a flavor that is strongly tied to any holidays. The combination of crunchy shortbread made with hazelnuts and a coating of dark chocolate on the outside provides the perfect vehicle for dunking in your morning coffee, tea or munching on them sans beverage.
This recipe is fairly straightforward and easy to execute. A food processor and parchment paper are going to be your best friends for these little morsels -- it takes forever and is frustrating to hand-chop the round hazelnuts, and parchment paper is hugely helpful in keeping things from sticking during both the baking and chocolate-drying. These guys are great to give as gifts because they're easy package and who doesn't like hazelnuts mixed with chocolates?? There's a reason Nutella is often consumed with a spoon by many people I know! For those of us with crazy schedules, the cookies can be made 2 days ahead of time. Just store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature and cover them in chocolate when you get the time.
Just a quick note before the recipe you're now drooling in anticipation for. Our final clinical rotation assignments were released last week, and I'm in the Neonatal ICU (NICU)!!! Really excited about this, and it takes a huge strain off the job-seeking that will happen in the next few months because it will give me the experience with kids to apply for pediatric nursing jobs :) With a new round of clinicals gearing up, I'm going to make a much greater effort to be more timely with my updates -- aiming for every week, but every two weeks on the outside. So, wish me luck caring for the teeny-tiny humans and look forward to more frequent recipes!

Hazelnut-Dark Chocolate Shortbread Sticks
Adapted from Epicurious
Makes ~20 sticks 

1 cup      Flour
1/2 tsp    Baking Powder
1/4 tsp    Salt
1/2 cup   Unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup   Sugar
1/2 cup   Hazelnuts, husked and finely ground
1 tsp       Vanilla Extract

   4oz      High-quality Dark Chocolate (better quality does mean better taste!)
1/3 cup   Hazelnuts, husked and coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 325┬║ and position oven rack in the center position.
2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt in a medium bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in 1/2 cup hazelnuts and vanilla.
5. Add dry ingredients and beat until just combined.
6. Shape ~1Tbs dough into 3-inch-long logs and place on baking sheet 1-inch apart.
7. Bake cookies until light golden brown around the edges, ~20 minutes. Times may depend on your oven, so check every so often!
8. Cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
9. Using a double boiler (or a metal bowl nested on/in a saucepan of simmering water) stir dark chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from over the water.
10. Place 1/3 cup hazelnuts in a small bowl or plate.
11. Dip one end of cookie into melted chocolate, then roll in chopped hazelnuts and return to *cool* parchment paper on drying rack. Repeat with remaining cookies, let stand 1 hour (until chocolate is set)

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