Butter-hazelnut biscuits with hazelnut pieces
The flavour-packed autumn treat from my homeland, Piedmont.
As I'm sure I've mentioned before, my family owns a small farm in the Piedmontese countryside. It's a gorgeous place (well, I know I'm biased!) where we have an orchard, a small vineyard and a series of hazelnut trees. Hazelnuts are extra special here in Piedmont - and, this time, not only because I say so, but because we actually have a special variety in this area of Italy!
We as a family only grow a small amount of organic hazelnuts and, each year, I can't wait for autumn to come around. Harvest is usually done at the beginning of the season, and then we dry the hazelnuts out in the last days of warm summer-like sun. They're then stocked to be shelled and toasted in the oven, little by little, over the course of the winter.
One of the things I love making with our toasted hazelnuts are these rustic hazelnut cookies, the recipe of which you can find below.
300 grams of hazelnuts (either already ground, or whole hazelnuts which you can grind yourself)
100 grams of sugar
200 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch of salt
100 gr butter (at room temperature)
Pre-heat your oven at 170° C.
Take your toasted hazelnuts and place them in the blender. Grind them until you get a mixed consistency (about half hazelnut flour and half coarse-ground hazelnut); basically you still want some hazelnut chunks left so as to feel them while munching away on the cookies. Note: using toasted hazelnuts is key, if you've got regular "raw" hazelnuts you can place them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 200° C before grinding them. The exact amount of time really depends on your oven but they should become a beautiful golden colour - that's when you know they're correctly toasted. :) Back to our recipe: take the ground hazelnuts and place them in a bowl; then add the rest of the dry ingredients and stir. When well mixed, add in the eggs and the butter. Stir until you get a coarse but well-mixed dough.
Line a tray with baking paper and set out the dough evenly to make cookies. My mother usually takes a fork to flatten each ball of dough, giving each cookie even more consistency and crunch thanks to the dents formed by the tines of the fork.
Put the cookies in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, depending on how big your cookies are; I like to make mine quite rustic so I usually have to cook them for around 20 minutes. Let cool (if you can wait that long) and enjoy the taste of Piedmont! <3