SLIDER

hazelnut maple shortbreads



Last month I borrowed a copy of the A Year of Good Eating: The Kitchen Diaries III from my local library. I like Nigel Slater's writing style so was keen to make my way through the book. 



This recipe for hazelnut maple shortbreads jumped out at me so I photocopied the recipe and added it to my to-do list. When 
I returned home from a trip to Brisbane I found my biscuit tin was completely empty. As I had most of the ingredients already in the cupboard I decided the time had come to try out the recipe. 





When I checked the cupboard I was a bit short of whole hazelnuts so I put a few aside for the topping; ground what I had and used some toasted hazelnut meal as well. I also made the shortbread mixture in the food processor so it didn't take long before the dough was resting in the fridge.



I halved the recipe but still managed to make 16 shortbreads from the mixture so the original cookies must have been enormous. My oven is slow so I increased the suggested baking temperature from 160
°C to 170°C and the shortbreads still took close to 30 minutes before they were ready.




Here's the recipe for you which makes 16 cookies. For all my recipes I use a 250 ml cup, a 20 ml tablespoon, unsalted butter and 60g eggs. My oven is a conventional gas oven so if your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the oven temperature by 20°C.

Hazelnut maple shortbreads – adapted from a Nigel Slater recipe

Ingredients
60g hazelnuts
112g unsalted butter 
25g brown sugar
1 tbs caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
25 mls maple syrup 
a pinch salt
112g plain flour 

Topping

15g hazelnuts

Method

Set the oven at 180°C. Place all the hazelnuts on a baking tray in a single layer, then toast them till they are lightly coloured on all sides. Place into a tea towel and gently rub the nuts together in the tea towel to remove the skins. Take out 15g and set aside to use to top the biscuits. Grind the remaining nuts in a food processor. They should be fine, but not as fine as commercial ground almonds. The nuts should feel a little gritty between the fingers.

Cream the butter, sugars and vanilla until pale and fluffy. Pour in the maple syrup, a tablespoon at a time, beating continually. If the mixture appears to curdle, don’t worry, just keep beating. It will eventually become smooth.


Mix the salt into the flour then fold in the nuts. Gradually incorporate the flour and nuts into the creamed butter, sugar and maple syrup mixture. Roll the dough into a thick sausage about 3 cm in diameter, wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for an hour.


Set the oven at 170°C. Unwrap the dough and slice it into about 16 biscuits. Place them, with a little space among them, on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Roughly chop the whole hazelnuts then put a few on top of each biscuit, pressing them gently down into the dough. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pale golden on the edges. Let the shortbreads cool for a few minutes on the tray, then carefully lift off with a palette knife and cool on a wire baking rack. Once cool, store in an airtight tin.




These cookies are gently sweet with a subtle hint of maple. I'd prefer a more intense maple flavour so 
next time I'd add some maple extract to the mix and a touch more sugar. The toasted hazelnut meal worked a treat so grinding the whole toasted nuts in a food processor might be a step you could skip. Maybe these will reappear as part of Xmas week?

See you all again next week with some more baking from my kitchen.

Bye for now,

Jillian

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