Hazelnut Orange Cookies

Delicate, crumbly cookies with a wonderful snap, flavored with the unique combination of hazelnuts and orange – a perfect addition to a holiday cookie plate.

A stack of Hazelnut Orange cookies tied with a green ribbon

It was 1997 and the Barnes and Noble store at the nearby suburban strip mall had recently opened. I wasn’t a competent baker then; my sister was the baker. The book I chose was the Pillsbury Best Cookies Cookbook – plenty of recipes, plenty of photos. These hazelnut orange cookies were the first recipe I tried. I thought they were delicious at the time, with a delicate, crumbly texture and pretty appearance. I resurrected the recipe this year for our neighborhood Bunco cookie exchange and they are just as special as I remember them. This recipe makes a ton of cookies – about eight dozen, enough for the Bunco cookie exchange and a few dozen for the office, or just cut the recipe in half.


Hazelnut Orange Cookies

A delicate, crumbly cookie with a wonderful snap, flavored with hazelnuts and orange.


Ingredients

  • 4 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ (generous) teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts
  • Sugar
  • Hazelnut halves for garnish

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat sugar, powdered sugar, softened butter, oil, orange zest, vanilla and eggs until light and fluffy. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in finely chopped hazelnuts. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 375⁰ F. Shape dough into scant 1” balls (15 grams each) and roll in sugar. Place 2” apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Flatten each ball with the bottom of a glass dipped in sugar, top with a hazelnut half.
  3. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until barely golden around the edges. Cool for 1 minute; remove to racks and cool completely.

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Holiday Cookie Round-up

Thanksgiving is behind us and Christmas is just around the corner, which in my house means its cookie-baking season. Here’s a round-up of some of my personal favorite cookie recipes that are sure to get you in the holiday spirit. Happy Baking!

Bakewell Biscotti

Bakewell Biscotti
Crunchy Cranberry Almond Biscotti stuffed and baked with cranberry jam and buttery marzipan crème – ummm…yes, please!

Bizcochitos Cookies

Biscochitos
Biscochitos are a regional cookie from New Mexico and are typically served during special celebrations, especially during Christmas with hot chocolate. In 1989, New Mexico made the biscochito its official state cookie. These cookies are a reminder of a quintessential snowy Christmas Eve I spent in Santa Fe bundled up for the beloved annual farolito walk. My most memorable Christmas Eve ever.

Hermit Cookies

Hermit Bars
Chewy bar cookies from New England heavily spiced and chocked full of plump raisins and crunchy walnuts.

Millionaire's Shortbread

Ginger Hazelnut Millionaire Bars
Inspired by one of my favorite recipes for Ginger Crunch Slices, these rich bars combine buttery shortbread, spicy ginger-cardamom caramel, creamy bittersweet ganache and sweet-salty hazelnut “croquant.”

LU Pim's

Jaffa Cakes
Not technically a cookie, these British biscuits are still a holiday favorite of mine. I usually succumb to the packaged variety, called Lu Pim’s in the States. In addition to chocolate and orange being one of my much-loved combinations, it’s a textural thing – the crack of a think dark chocolate coating giving way to a gelatin layer atop a sliver of moist genoise sponge.

Cape Breton-Style Oatcakes

Cape Breton oatcakes are a simple, buttery, not overly-sweet, utterly addictive oat cookie.

Oatcakes

Wandering around my local cheese shop the other day, I came across something called Cape Breton oatcakes from Nova Scotia. They were advertised as a tea biscuit, cheese cracker, or a lightly sweetened cookie. Being a baker, it’s rare for me to purchase a package of store-bought cookies, but I was intrigued by something that could be called all three.

I bought a box to serve alongside an oozy hunk of triple-crème brie and fig jam…except the oatcakes never made it to the cheese plate. I broke into the package just to see what they tasted like – delicately crunchy, buttery, simple, slightly salty-sweet, and utterly addictive. I devoured the entire box in a matter of days.

In an attempt to replicate my new discovery, I found a number of Cape Breton oatcake recipes online, but none seemed to match the cookie (cracker?) I was trying to duplicate – some were thick, some were loaded with sugar (both brown and white), some made with shortening, many lumpy with whole oats. So, as I often do, I forged out on my own…


Cape Breton–Style Oatcakes

Cape Breton oatcakes are a simple, buttery, not overly-sweet, utterly addictive oat cookie.


Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cups old-fashion rolled oats
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon (rounded) kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small pieces
  • 3 Tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. and line two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. In the bowl of food processor, pulse oats until the texture of meal. Add flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and process to combine. Add very cold butter and pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add milk and process until dough just begins to come together. Turn dough out onto work surface and form into two balls. Wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Dust your work surface with flour and, working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out until ¼ inch thick. Cut with a 2 ½ inch round cutter or cut into squares. Transfer to baking sheets and refrigerate again for 10 minutes.
  4. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until the edges are just beginning to turn golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container, if you don’t eat them all immediately.

Mocha Viennese Whirls

A coffee lover’s dream…dark mocha ganache sandwiched between two delicate butter cookies.

A plate of sugar-dusted Viennese Whirls

The only way I know how to say “thank you” to someone who drinks a quadruple espresso every morning…


Mocha Viennese Whirls

Dark Mocha Ganache sandwiched between two delicate butter cookies.


Ingredients

    Mocha ganache
  • 6 oz. dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa)
  • 6 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
  • Cookies
  • 9 oz. unsalted butter, very soft (not European style)
  • 1 ¾ oz. confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • ⅛ teaspoon table salt (not kosher salt)
  • 8 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz. cornstarch

Directions

  1. Make ganache: Place the chocolate and heavy whipping cream in a microwave safe bowl and microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted (60-90 seconds). Add instant coffee and stir until completely combined and smooth. Cover and refrigerate until spreadable consistency, about 90 minutes.
  2. Make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375F. Line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. Using a 2” round cutter as a guide, draw 8 circles on each sheet of paper, spaced well apart. Turn the paper over so the pencil marks are underneath.
  3. Beat the butter, confectioner’s sugar and salt in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornstarch and beat until thoroughly mixed. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle. Pipe 24 swirled rounds (not rosettes), inside the circles on the baking sheets. Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes before baking (this will help cookies retain their shape).
  4. Bake in the center of the oven for 13—15 minutes, until pale golden-brown. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Assemble: Pipe a layer of ganache onto the flat side of 12 of the cookies and sandwich with the remaining cookies. Dust with confectioner’s sugar. Enjoy!

Oatmeal Apple Date Cookies

Not your ordinary oatmeal cookie. The addition of moist grated apple and sweet chopped dates adds interest to the American standard.

Oatmeal Cookies with Apple
What you don’t realize (or maybe you do) is that a fair chunk of my recipes never make it to posting. Some, like this week’s Moroccan Chicken Wings, don’t make the cut. They aren’t worth salvaging, even with significant tweaking. I write a recipe, I shop, I cook, I photograph, and then nothing. The story ends.

When these cookies first came out of the oven, I thought they were going to be one of those lost soul recipes. They tasted great, but strayed too far from what I had first envisioned. I imagined something reminiscent of a quintessential Quaker Oatmeal cookies – but flavored like Apples and Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal. These cookies were something quite different – chewy, yet somewhat flat and lacy in texture, a bit difficult to remove from the cookie sheet and, well, not very photogenic. I popped one, and then another, and then a third in my mouth as I tried to determine what went wrong (I snuck in a few more before bedtime).

I took the rest of the batch into the office and, by lunchtime, realized they may not look pretty, they may not be the quintessential cookie of my childhood, but, as coworkers sought me out for their rave reviews, these cookies were damn good. It dawned on me, I can’t judge the final product based on my expectations – sometimes it’s okay to stray.


Oatmeal Apple Date Cookies

Not your standard oatmeal cookie. The addition of moist apple and sweet dates adds interest to an American standard.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ⅔ cups rolled oats, such a Quaker
  • 1 cup chopped dates
  • 1 apple, peeled and grated
  • ½ powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together butter, sugars, egg and vanilla.
  2. Add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar and stir until combined. Stir in oats, dates and apple. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Drop by rounded teaspoons on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Cool and remove from sheet.
  4. Add enough water to powdered sugar to make a glaze. Drizzle over cookies. Let set and store in an airtight container.