Here’s to not forgetting: Brown Sugar-Hazelnut Rounds

September 28, 2011

After making these cookies, I was brimming with feelings. I was energized on account of how much sugar is packed into each round, excited because I love hazelnuts and so rarely bake with them, stupidly content with having done close to no work for such a good cookie, and half in love because hazelnuts and brown sugar are, apparently, a match made in heaven. Why don’t I make slice and bake cookies all the time?!

Looking for a mental distraction, I pondered this very serious question. There are so many wonderful varieties of slice and bake cookies, take Dorie Greenspan’s salt and pepper shortbread, or these chocolate toffee cookies from our beloved Smitten Kitchen. So many options and a process that’s beyond easy. What’s better than thinking, “hm, I want a cookie” and then going to your freezer/fridge, taking out a roll of cookie dough, and slicing away? I realize you can also freeze balls of cookie dough to bake as needed, but sometimes they are bulky and take up a lot of precious freezer space. A roll of dough takes up virtually no space at all. All you have to do is make the dough ahead of time. Yikes. There’s the catch.

The end product may be the pinnacle of awesome awesomeness, but if it means I have to make dough and wait a few hours, forget about it. I forget about it, literally. It takes an interesting blend of carelessness, laziness, and absentmindedness to make something, stick it in the freezer, and forget the whole thing ever happened. The only slice and bake cookies I’ve ever made in a timely fashion have been for occasions where others are involved, and those “others” have dutifully reminded me to “make the darn cookies already”. Luckily, in the case of these cookies, the lure of toasty hazelnuts and brown sugar was too much to resist, or forget. I stuck the dough in the freezer at night and, within twenty minutes of getting up the next morning I had cookies in hand and a silly grin across my face. Hopefully this is the start of more slice and bake cookies and less forgetting. Fingers crossed.

Brown Sugar-Hazelnut Rounds

(Recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Yields about 60 cookies, sliced ¼-inch thick

Notes: I sliced the cookies ½-inch thick and baked them for another two minutes, resulting in a chewier cookie. There is a recipe for maple-orange frosting with the cookies, but I found the cookies themselves to be really pleasing and was afraid to overpower the yummy hazelnut-ness. If you don’t have any hazelnuts on hand, you can substitute pecans.

Ingredients:

½ cup shortening

½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1 ¼ cups light or dark brown sugar, packed

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup hazelnuts, skinned, toasted, and ground

Method:

1. In a large mixing bowl, or in bowl of a stand mixer and paddle attachment on medium high speed, beat shortening and butter for thirty seconds.

2. Add brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.

4. Add flour and, if using a mixer, beat in as much as you can before stirring by hand. Stir in hazelnuts.

5. Chill dough in refrigerator 10 to 15 minutes, until firm enough to shape. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a 10-inch long roll. If desired, roll the shaped dough in more ground hazelnuts or turbinado sugar. Wrap each roll in plastic or wax paper and chill 4 to 48 hours before slicing. If you’ll be freezing the dough to use later, double wrap the roll(s) in plastic.

6. If frozen, remove dough from freezer and refrigerate about an hour before you plan to slice.

7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

8. Once dough is ready to slice, use a sharp knife to slice cookies ¼ inch to ½ inch thick. Rotate roll as you slice to keep roll round. Place cookies one inch apart on baking sheet and bake each sheet 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are firm and just starting to brown. If baking two sheets at a time, switch baking sheets halfway through bake time.

9. Let cookies cool on sheet for a minute or two before removing them to a cooling rack to cool completely. Keep cookies covered, at room temperature up to 3 days.

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