The first time I made these hazelnut sandwich cookies was during the holidays for our extended family Christmas party. I used a fluted round cookie cutter and then made tiny cut-outs in the top cookie using very small cookie cutters in the shape of a Christmas tree, candy cane and star. The small cut-out (less than 1 cm) gave just a glimpse of the shiny raspberry jam sandwiched between the cookies. I made a mental note to definitely make these cookies once again in February for Valentine's Day.
My original plan was to make the classic heart shaped cookies with a heart shaped cut-out and fill them with raspberry jam and give them a light dusting of powdered sugar. But when I dug out my set of heart shaped cookie cutters I realized that I didn't have a heart shaped cookie cutter that would be small enough to make the cut-out for the top of the sandwich cookie. So I quickly switched gears and decided to keep both the bottom and tops uncut and fill the cookies with Nutella. That yummy chocolate hazelnut spread went perfectly with the hazelnuts in the cookie dough.
And as I sit here writing this post my mind drifted back to the last time I made something using Nutella. I created the Nutella cheesecake brownies for last year's World Nutella Day (which was February 6th, 2007). Then I realized that this year's Nutella day could be happening any day. So I quickly Googled and I found out that tomorrow, February 5th, is 2008's World Nutella Day. I didn't even know until this moment. How's that for fate stepping in and making sure I didn't have the right cookie cutter size so that I would have to use Nutella instead jam? And then finding out about Nutella Day with minutes (hopefully) to the deadline?
I don't know if I made the February 4th deadline to be included in Sara and Michelle's roundup. (Yikes! It's Feb. 4th 11:48 pm PST now!) If not, be sure to check out all the other great Nutella creations and most importantly, eat Nutella.
Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies
(adapted from Kate Zuckerman's "The Sweet Life")
(makes 5 dozen sandwich cookies)
5 ounces hazelnuts
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
8 ounces (2 sticks/16 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup Nutella (or any brand of chocolate hazelnut spread)
Combine hazelnuts, 1/2 cup flour and salt in the bowl of food processor. Pulse until nuts are ground to a fine powder. In a mixing bowl, combine the nut powder, remaining 2 cups of flour, cinnamon and baking powder. Set aside the dry ingredients.
In the bowl of stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 6 to 8 minutes. Make sure to stop occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and mix until the batter looks smooth and glossy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Add the dry ingredients all at once to the mixture. Drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and bowl to prevent the flour from spraying all over the place. Then, on low speed, mix until the dry ingredients are combined, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Scrape the dough onto a sheet of plastic food wrap and form a flat rectangle about 1-inch thick. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone sheets.
Roll the chilled dough out to 1/16-inch thick. Using a 1 1/2-inch cookie cutter, cut out cookies as close together on the dough as you can. Place the cut cookies 1 inch apart on your prepared baking sheets. Shape any remaining dough scrapes into a disk and refrigerate for 20 minutes before rolling it out again.
Chill the cut cookies in the refrigerator for 15 minutes before baking. (This 15 minute chill is optional but I like to give the cut cookies a brief rest to relax the gluten so that my cookies are tenderer).
Bake the cookies at 350F until golden brown, about 12 to 15 minutes. Allow cookies to cool completely before filling. Spread half the cookies with some Nutella and cover with remaining cookies to make a sandwich.
The sandwich cookies are best eaten the same day. You can bake the cookies and store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Fill them the day you plan to serve them.