Hazelnut-Espresso Stars

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During college, my mom would occasionally send me boxes, usually filled with clothes I left behind or – even better – her homemade granola, which I constantly craved. Now that I’m no longer at school, and all the kids are out of the house, my mom says she doesn’t have much use for things like cookie cutters. I got a box from her recently and inside there was a bag filled with cookie cutters of all shapes and sizes! I think it’s the best box-from-mom ever, especially now that I make granola on my own, thanks to years of watching her do it.

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In my opinion, all the best cookies start with butter. When baking, it’s best to use room temperature butter that leans toward the colder side.

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I’ve been experimenting with some different types of flours lately. There are so many options, which is great for those of you who can’t tolerate gluten. I can, but still like to know what’s out there. For these cookies, I used brown rice flour which has a very fine texture and nice nutty taste. This recipe is inspired by David Lebovitz’s Baci di Dama cookies.

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Along with the brown sugar, I also added instant espresso powder. I love coffee-flavored anything, especially with something warm and nutty like hazelnuts.

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The hazelnuts (which I roasted and de-skinned myself) are ground so fine it almost has the texture of a nut butter.

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Use your hands to combine all the ingredients. Then wrap in parchment paper before chilling.

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Use a rolling pin to roll out your dough.

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After baking, let the cookies cool completely. They’re pretty delicate but have a buttery-nutty crunch that’s simply irresistible.

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Recipe, adapted from David Lebovitz:

  • 1 heaping cup ground hazelnuts (use a food processor or blender to get them to a fine consistency)
  • 1 cup flour (I used brown rice flour but you also could use all-purpose)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee/espresso powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • squirt of light agave syrup (optional)

Method:

  1. If using raw hazelnuts, roast them in the oven, then rub together in kitchen towel to remove the skins. Grind hazelnuts in food processor or blender. 
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the ground hazelnuts and flour. Set aside.
  3. In medium bowl, combine the sugar, coffee powder, vanilla extract, and salt.
  4. Slice the butter into tablespoons. Using your hands combine the butter into the sugar mixture. Note: you may not need the entire stick of butter. Work it to a consistency where the dough sticks together.
  5. Add your hazelnut-flour mixture, and combine fully with your hands. I added a squirt of light agave syrup at the end for added sweetness and a little stickiness to hold the dough together. It’s totally optional! 
  6. Form dough into a ball and wrap in parchment paper. Refrigerate 30 minutes and up to three hours. You can also put the dough in the freezer for faster chilling, about 15 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  8. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough on the parchment paper. Flour your rolling pin.
  9. Working quickly, use a cookie cutter of  your choice and cut the cookies. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 10-14 minutes, checking at 10 minutes.
  11. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

These cookies are also delicious dipped in chocolate. I particularly like these in the morning with my coffee! You have the whole day to burn it off, don’t worry.

Enjoy!

– Paige

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