These hazelnut cookies, aka Haselnussmakronen, bring back such wonderful memories of my Mutti's Christmas cookie platter. Also, they bring back memories of my sister and I sitting at the kitchen table, busy cracking hazelnuts! Mutti would then lightly roast them in order to remove the skins and, somehow, ground them. I don't recall how she did that or what she had to do it successfully. I've found out since, that it's not that easy to get perfectly ground hazelnuts!
Whenever possible, I buy the ground hazelnuts, however in the photo above, you'll see the ones I made from 'scratch'. I only had about half of the nuts ground properly before the rest became too oily to continue. The cookies are a bit flatter than usual, but, OH, MY, so GOOD!
If you've purchased whole hazelnuts, you'll notice that they probably still have their skins on. These need to be removed because they can make the cookies bitter.
Although there is a new way to do this by boiling in a baking soda water mixture, I still prefer to do it the 'old-fashioned' way by roasting them. Roasting always brings out a wonderful flavor in nuts. Boiling in a baking soda water bath just doesn't sound that appetizing to me!
To remove the skins, roast the whole hazelnuts in a preheated 325°F on a cookie sheet (in a single layer) for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare a dishtowel (I prefer my 'waffle-knit' one for this) by folding up the edges so that when you pour on the hazelnuts, they wouldn't roll all over the place.
When the nuts have been roasted about 10 minutes, carefully pour them into the dishtowel. Spread them out and fold over the towel (pulling in the ends so the nuts won't roll out) and rub the towel back and forth to loosen the skins.
I scoop out the 'skinless' nuts into a bowl and the ones that still have their skins clinging to them, I put into a large metal sieve. These, I rub back and forth in the sieve and the skins will loosen.
To grind them, I used my mini-chopper ... BUT MAKE SURE THAT THE NUTS ARE COLD! I even put them in the freezer for about 1 hour first. If they get warm in the grinding, they will become too oily to get ground properly. That happened in the photo above. However, I'm posting the photo to show that the cookies still worked, even though only about half the nuts were ground fine and the remaining half were coarsely ground.
Why not make a batch of each of these cookies for your holiday platter. The different textures and flavours look so pretty, especially when arranged together on a tray. They also make great 'hostess gifts.' Just be ready to pass on the recipes!
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