Roasting hazelnuts yourself will fill your home with the most delicious warm aroma.
Besides the chocolate (which is optional), these cookies are truly a backyard affair. With oranges and the last hazelnuts from us, crushed and lightly roasted. A task that takes time but is still pleasant and the smell of roasted hazelnuts through the house brings warmth after days of rain.
A tip from my grandmother – always use room temperature eggs when cooking, otherwise the mixture may crack when you add them to the creamy butter and sugar. I always keep the eggs at room temperature as we go through them quickly (I also date each one as we bring them from the hens each day).
If you prefer to store the eggs in the refrigerator, remove the required quantity 3-4 hours before cooking in preparation. In a pinch, if you haven’t planned ahead and feel like cooking, place the eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for 15-20 minutes to keep the chill out of the fridge.
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Hazelnut, orange and chocolate cookies
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes + 20 minutes roasting the hazelnuts
Makes: 12-14 cookies
½ cup (75 g) toasted hazelnuts (see recipe for directions)
⅓ cup (70g) sugar
Zest of 1 orange
100g butter at room temperature
1 free-range egg at room temperature (see advice above)
¾ cup (110 g) plain flour (can use spelled or gluten-free flour mix), divided
½ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
60g chopped dark chocolate (optional)
Preheat the oven to 160°C (fan 140°C).
To roast the hazelnuts, spread on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Shake the tray and cook for another 10 minutes until the skin cracks and the nuts are lightly browned. Immediately pour onto a tea towel, wrap and rub vigorously to remove the skins. Some skins can stay in place, that’s fine. Transfer the roasted hazelnuts to a plate to cool.
Increase oven temperature to 180C (160C fan).
Once the hazelnuts have cooled, grind them in a food processor with a tablespoon of flour until finely ground. Pour into a bowl.
Wipe out the food processor bowl then add the sugar and orange zest and stir briefly to rub the zest into the sugar. Add the butter and mix until creamy. Followed by egg and process again until smooth and airy.
Add the ground hazelnuts, as well as the rest of the flour, the baking powder and the salt. Pulse the processor 6-8 times until the mixture comes together. Scrape sides, add chopped chocolate and pulse briefly until combined. At this point, I recommend putting the food processor bowl in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to help with rolling – especially important if you’re using gluten-free flours.
After this time, scoop out tablespoons of dough and roll them into balls the size of a walnut. Arrange evenly on a lined baking sheet – they will spread during baking, so leave 3-4cm between each cookie. Lightly press each with your fingers or a fork. Bake for 15 minutes until golden brown. Cool on the tray.
Store in a cookie jar in the pantry and eat within 5 days.
Nicola Galloway is an award-winning food writer, cookbook author and culinary tutor.