Sometimes summer makes me overlook chocolate. I get so excited about strawberries, peaches, plums, cherries, and especially watermelon, that chocolate can get relegated to all the months I don't enjoy these fruits in season. Then I tasted these cookies at a picnic, and liked them so much I had to make them. Soft, crackly chocolate-hazelnut cookies sandwich a layer of Nutella in little bites.
We enjoyed them at our recent Jane Austen book club picnic at World's End, and boy do we know how to do picnics right. My contributions were fried chicken, scones, and plum skillet cake. Rebecca made her "Austen" cucumber sandwiches and the most delicious nectarine-steeped iced tea, and brought real china teacups! And Mrs. Hot Potato, or "the Mrs.," as she's known on her blog, made these hazelnut baci and lemon-lavender shortbread. Yum.
The Mrs. adapted her Baci di Cioccolato (chocolate kisses) recipe to use hazelnuts instead of almonds and Nutella instead of ganache. I followed her instructions but was stumped about measuring out the dough. The original recipe calls for shaping the dough into logs of a certain diameter and then cutting up pieces. That sounded fussy, so I can see why the Mrs. used an ice cream scoop. I didn't know what size she used, and if I wasn't making these on my wacky schedule in the middle of the night I would have asked her. I used my "tablespoon" scoop, but those turned out too big, like Oreos, and a little flat though they tasted just as good.
|Wonder about using sanding or sparkling sugar? Don't. I experimented, and it was pretty but too crunchy.|
Adapted from Baci di Cioccolato by Mrs. Hot Potato
½ cup chopped hazelnuts (or ¼ cup toasted hazelnut flour)
1 tbs granulated sugar, plus more for rolling
1½ cups plus 1 tbs all-purpose flour
⅓ cup dutch-processed cocoa powder (I like Guittard)
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks/8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbs dark rum
Jar of Nutella
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Roast the almonds on a baking tray for 15 minutes, stirring once and watching them carefully to ensure they don't burn. Let the hazelnuts cool, then grind them up in the food processor with 1 tablespoon of sugar using the metal blade to a fine consistency. To skip all this, you can use tablespoon scoop, which is not the actual measure of a tablespoon but intended to imitate the dinner tablespoons used in old cookie recipes. Use the dough to measure level portions of cookie dough, then cut each scoop of dough in half. Roll each half into a ball with your hands, then roll in sugar and place on the baking sheets ½ inch apart. The Mrs. says you want the balls to be about the size of a walnut in its shell. Repeat with remaining dough.
Chill the dough balls in the freezer for about a half-hour. Preheat oven again to 325°. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through to ensure even cooking. The cookies should be puffed and crackly. Let them cool for a few minutes on the baking trays until they firm up, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Assemble the cookies by spooning a bit of Nutella on the flat end of one cookie, then topping it with another cookie and squeezing the halves gently so the Nutella comes to the sides. The cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to three days.