Alright, let’s get back on the chocolate train, shall we? Welcome, #5 on the Christmas cookie list.
I’m a strong supporter of the “Just-add-Nutella-and-everything-gets-better” party, so when I saw this recipe for a classic thumbprint cookie that was rolled in toasted hazelnuts, I knew my beliefs would come in handy. The original recipe had you filling them with jam — the boring traditional way. But the hazelnuts immediately got Nutella on my brain and I knew right away what I’d replace that jam with.
Speaking of hazelnuts – they are, quite frankly, a huge pain in the ass to work with. Roasting and skinning them takes ages since getting their skins off is pretty tricky even if you use the old method of rubbing them between a towel. Thankfully, I found a new method which makes it unbelievably easy, and also lets you roast the nuts after they’ve been skinned, giving them even more flavor. These cookies are toasty and crunchy on the outside with a thick, ooey-gooey rich center of chocolate-hazelnut goodness and my God why haven’t you made them already?? Get to it!
Hazelnut Thumbprints with Nutella
Based on the recipe by Martha Stewart.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.
Instead of roasting your hazelnuts and rubbing them with a kitchen towel to try and remove the skins (which is tedious and mostly ineffective), try this method: Bring 4 cups water to boil and stir in ¼ cup baking soda. Drop the hazelnuts in and boil for 3-4 minutes then drain and shock under cold running water. The skins should just pop off or easily peel off. Pat the nuts dry and then roast them in a pan at 350° for about 15 minutes.
- 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
- 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
- 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/8 tsp. coarse salt
- ¼ tsp. baking soda
- ½ cup skinned, toasted hazelnuts, ground coarsely in a food processor
- 1/3 cup Nutella or chocolate hazelnut spread
1.) In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together butter and ½ cup sugar on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg yolks and vanilla, mix well. With the mixer running on low, add flour, salt, and baking soda slowly until just combined. Cover and refrigerate dough at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) until completely chilled.
2.) Preheat oven to 325° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
3.) In one shallow dish, stir together remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar with chopped hazelnuts. and put the beaten egg white in another. Roll dough into 1-inch balls (about 1 Tbsp.) and dip first in egg white, then in hazelnut-sugar mixture. Place dough balls about 1 inch apart on baking sheets.
4.) Press down center of each ball with your thumb or a round teaspoon dipped in flour and bake for about 10 minutes. Carefully remove and press down again with teaspoon again (or something round to deepen the ‘thumbprint’). Return cookies to oven and bake until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes more. Let cool 2 minutes on cookie sheets before transferring to wire racks.
5.) Heat the Nutella in 30-second bursts in the microwave until runny. Fill each center with about 1 tsp. Nutella (a little goes a long way – trust me). Chill cookies for at least an hour to set the centers. Serve with ice cold eggnog.