Hazelnut Shortbread

For all my American friends: Happy Thanksgiving!

The squirrels have devoured every single hazelnut in our garden again, but I don’t really mind. I like to see their acrobatics in the bushes and trees, although this year they have been rather sneaky and I’ve hardly seen them!

When I saw a squirrel cookie cutter recently, I knew it would be perfect for this hazelnut shortbread.

This shortbread has that wonderful crisp buttery flavour with an added extra – hazelnutty nuttiness! I also love the slight salty note in shortbread, and this recipe  has that too. In fact I would give it 10 out of 10 for flavour, crunch and appearance, and the consistency was also ideal for rolling out. Just for fun I stuck a few of them together with Nutella – yummy!

Hazelnut Shortbread

For about 60 cookies, you will need:

  • 300g (10.5 oz) salted butter
  • 200g (7 oz) granulated sugar
  • 400g (3 1/4 cups) plain flour
  • 40g (1/2 cup) ground hazelnuts
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Nutella for filling (optional)

Beat butter and sugar together until soft and creamy. Sift in the flour, salt, cocoa powder and nuts. I used a large wooden spoon to blend these in, and then my (cold!) hands to bring it together into a ball. Trying not to handle it too much, wrap it in clingfilm and chill it for at least 45 minutes… the longer the better.

Remove from the fridge and divide; put half back in the fridge. Now roll out your dough on a well-floured surface to about 1/2 cm thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter. Lay on greaseproof paper on a tray that will fit in your fridge – you need to keep these cold till baking. Repeat with the second half of the dough (or freeze it for a rainy day, which is what I did!) and then chill these too, for at least 15 minutes.

Now you can preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Bake the shortbread for 10-15 minutes – watch them the last few minutes as they brown very quickly – you want them to be “golden” brown! Place on a cooling rack. Once cool you can make sandwich cookies by spreading a little Nutella on half of them and placing another cookie on top. Nutella goes well with the hazelnut flavour of the shortbread, and I like them both with and without.

These are going on my Christmas Cookie list – using a festive cookie cutter of course!

Enjoy!

Link for conversion tables:

http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html

Tuesdays at Two (20th November)

Tuesdays at Two

Poor light and low cloud today. Typical November weather!

The View Club so far:

Celi, from The Kitchen’s Garden

Claire, from Promenades Plantings

Marie, from My Little Corner of Rhode Island

Linda, from Life on a Colorado Farm

If you want to join in, please do. There are no rules! You can post daily, weekly, or just when you get a chance. Pick a view and show us how it changes through the seasons! 😀

Sunshine, Where Are You?

No, not the title of a song!

After a week of grey skies and fog, I decided to look back at some sunny pictures: remember summer? Wasn’t it wonderful!

Despite some extremes – heat, drought or rain – you all posted such wonderful photos all summer long. How about showing us a few to cheer up our November days? Here’s my offering!

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😀

Look forward to seeing a few of your sunny photos too!

Amaryllis Exotica

I planted an Amaryllis bulb for myself last year and decided to make this a tradition. This year I chose a different colour to the traditional red, and I rather like it!

Amaryllis “Exotica”

Planted in the first half of October, it grew rapidly, perhaps a little too tall, and opened within 5 weeks.

There are now four flowers on the first stem, and a second one is growing too!

Do you grow Amaryllis (Belladonna Lily)?

Hazelnut Pastry and a Savoury Tart

Last year our squirrel family must have found alternative lodgings, as we did not see them all year, and we enjoyed eating our own nuts. This spring our squirrels returned, so the hazelnuts have long been harvested! I know/suspect it is the same family, as one of them always builds this above my balcony…

He doesn’t live there, but seems to take an afternoon nap there in winter occasionally when the sun shines on it!

At our autumn market a few weeks ago (how time flies!) I bought some hazelnut flour/meal. The smell when I opened the packet was delectable! This would be a wonderful choice for Christmas cookie dough, instead of ground almonds.

However, there’s plenty of time yet till Christmas cookies are on the agenda, and I had plans for pastry. I like experimenting with pastry, and this tart crust was absolutely delicious – aromatic and hazelnutty – and from now on I will definitely use hazelnuts in pastry more often!

Hazelnut Pastry Mushroom and Leek Tart

Here’s the pastry recipe, and the recipe for the leek and mushroom filling too.

  • Grease a 28cm/11 inch flan dish. Preheat oven to 200°C/425°F.
  • Sieve 100g (7/8 of a cup) plain flour, 50g (2/5 of a cup) wholemeal flour, and 50g (2/5 of a cup) hazelnut flour/meal (or very finely ground hazelnuts) with a pinch of salt. Cut 115g (1 stick) cold butter into the flours and rub in with fingertips until crumbly. Add a twist of nutmeg. Stir in just enough cold water to form the dough into a smooth ball. Do not kneed it, but try and handle it as little as possible. Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Roll out to a circle large enough to fit your flan dish. Press into dish and prick base with a fork. Bake blind for 5 minutes.
  • Thinly slice 2 leeks and sauté in a little butter or oil until very soft. This can take about 20 minutes. Add 400g (14 oz) sliced mushrooms and cook until tender. In a bowl, mix 2 eggs, 150ml ( 3/5 of a cup) crème fraîche, 2 tbsps milk, 1 tsp mixed herbs (I used bear’s garlic), salt and lots of black pepper. Pour the leek mixture into the tart and cover with the creamy mixture. Bake for about 20 minutes.

Look at that lovely crust!

(P.S. I had a tiny bit of pastry left over, which I used to try a sweet filling: nutella, bananas, chocolate etc. Very nice BUT – I couldn’t taste the hazelnut pastry with all that sugary sweetness! I therefore suggest sticking to savoury fillings!)

😉

Conversion Tables: http://www.traditionaloven.com/tutorials/conversion.html