Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Winter Moon Cookies

I know I'm getting a little ahead of myself with posting winter cookies. We are just into Fall, after all! But this cookie is basically a hazelnut shortbread cookie with a "snowy" dusting of confectioners' sugar.
The recipe is from "Nantucket Open-House Cookbook" and since I love shortbread, I thought I'd give this one a try.
The cookies are crunchy and buttery and they have just the right amount of sweetness, even with the dusting of confectioners' sugar.
I made two changes, additions really. I added 1/4 teaspoon of salt and rather than using 2 teaspoons of vanilla, I used 1 teaspoon plus 1 teaspoon of hazelnut extract. If you don't want to go out and buy hazelnut extract, because let's face it, extracts are pricey, just use all vanilla.

What you want to do first is toast the hazelnuts.
Place them in a single layer onto a rimmed baking sheet and put them in a 350 oven for about 8 minutes. Get out a large dish towel and once the nuts come out of the oven, dump them ( carefully) into the dish towel and cover them with the towel for about 30 seconds. Then rub them vigorously, still with the towel covering them, to get the skins off. Now, not all the skins will come off, and that's okay. They still taste fine, they just look better skinned..err..skinless. (Well, you get what I mean!).

So once you have the hazelnuts toasted, place them into a food processor and pulse til finely ground. You could chop them by hand but that's always tricky since they're round and they tend to roll everywhere. ( I would place them into a zip lock bag and smash them a little, then chop them very well.)

Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl til fluffy.
Gradually beat in the hazelnuts, vanilla ( and hazelnut extract, if using) and lemon zest.
Beat in the granulated sugar.

Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour and salt til it's all blended.

Place the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap ...

And roll out between 2 sheet of wrap to 1/4" thickness.
Cut the dough out into crescent moon shapes ( or whatever shape you like. My moon apparently has a face. It does look a bit odd, don't you think?:)
Then bake them til lightly browned.
When they've cooled, sift confectioners' sugar over them.

Winter Moon Cookies ( from "Nantucket Open-House Cookbook)

1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skinned and finely ground
2 tsp. vanilla ( or 1 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. hazelnut extract)
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour, sifted
1/4 tsp. salt
Confectioners' sugar ( for dusting)

Preheat oven to 325.
1. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl til fluffy.
2. Gradually beat in hazelnuts, vanilla ( and hazelnut extract, if using) and lemon zest.
3. Beat in the granulated sugar.
4. Using a wooden spoon, gradually stir in the flour and salt til it is all well blended.
5. Roll out the dough, 1/4" thick between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and cut out shapes.
*( If the dough feels too soft, place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.)
6. Bake the cookies on ungreased baking sheets til lightly browned, about 12 to 15 minutes.
7. Dust cooled cookies with confectioners' sugar.

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