I seriously need a chaperone in Kakulas Sister. Every single time I go into that shop, I end up with so much excess. Bins upon bins of coffee beans, spices and flour, the shop is a goldmine for baking products that have yet to hit the mainstream. This is the place to buy coconut sugar, barberries, sorghum flours and the like.
Perhaps it was the parking meter ticking down, or just a particularly heavy hand, but I somehow drifted out of there with nearly a kilo of hazelnut meal. As I arrived home with the shameful bounty, I opened the bag for a sniff. It was sweet smelling, roasted and incredibly nutty. To be honest it smells a lot like Nutella!
Though there aren’t many recipes using hazelnut meal, it’s an easy substitute for almond meal. I spotted this shortbread recipe by Gourmet Traveller and adapted it with more hazelnut, less flour, to the point I don’t think to be honest, it can be technically called shortbread. But because of the low amount of flour it’s impossible to over knead and ends up possibly even shorter than its namesake. Though it can’t be cut out with cookie cutters, it can be rolled into a log and cut up (like it is here), spooned into quenelles or just dropped on the tray and baked.
As you can see in the photo I tinkered with a chocolate version. Two tablespoons of Dutch cocoa substituted for the same amount of flour, transformed the cookies into nut flecked, smouldering (they burned real easy!) cookies, that went down well with chocolate loving workmates. By the way, Dutch process cocoa is easy enough to find in IGA (under the brands Blooker or Droste) but I like to buy it bulk from, yes you guessed it, Kakulas Sister.
280 gm butter, softened
80 gm caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla
zest of 1 lemon
200 gm plain flour
180 gm hazelnut meal
2 tbsp milk, optional
Icing sugar, optional
Makes 32 cookies
Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Line two baking trays.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and beat.
Add the flour and hazelnut meal and fold until well mixed. The mixture may need coaxing to come together in a soft, loose dough. If it refuses to come together, add a little milk and bring it together.
Roll out some cling wrap and manipulate into two even logs. Wrap tightly and freeze until very firm (about 15 minutes).
Unfurl and slice into 1 cm thick rounds. At this point, you can also indent them with a fork or even your thumb for a nice effect. (Note: actual cookie stamps won’t work as they puff up quite a bit.)
Allowing for spread (the cookies puff up to a third in size), place cookies onto lined baking trays and slide into the preheated oven. Take them out when they’re just golden around the edges and soft to the touch in the centre. To test, flip a cookie over and if the underneath is golden with tiny cracks, it’s done. Let cool on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool further.
Sprinkle with icing sugar and enjoy with a nice cup of tea.
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