I made this recipe up for the birthday party of one of Fin's stuffed toys. We usually only celebrate the genuine, approved by the makers of beany babies, birthday of Piggy; November 13th, like it says on his/her (piggy has gender confusion) birth certificate. However, whilst Fin was having a duvet day on Friday, he came over all sentimental about his soft toys and wanted to give a little something back. Mooching about the house enjoying the ticklish feeling of not having anything particluar to do, not being ill and hours until supper time came round, he decided that today was doggy's birthday and invited all the animals to tea. Sensing a request for edible treats was on the way, I suggested making cookies as they were quick, but Fin was already foraging happily in a cupboard for tiny tea things and simply grunted, 'ok' as he marched out with an armful of espresso cups.
I've been reading excitedly about peanut butter cookies that are made simply of nut butter and honey and wanted to try something similar with hazelnuts. But hazel butter is really quite runny, so I knew I needed some ground nuts in there too. I mixed up what I thought seemed like a reasonable mixture, with no idea of what the outcome might be and popped the tray in the oven hoping something resembling cookies might emerge a little while later.
In less time than it took for Fin to spread a blanket, seat all his soft toys so that they wouldn't bicker and arrange the tea things; the cookies were done. In fact, I have to be honest here - they were a touch overdone. It's easy to burn honey, so cook these slightly cooler if you know your oven comes up hot and keep an eye on them for the last five minutes. They want to be golden brown, not nut brown! They should be sable, crisp at the edges and slightly chewy in the middle. Serve them as they are with a cup of something, or go to town and sandwich them with butter cream. Mine are sandwiched with a cocoa butter truffle, that I can only give approximate measures for I'm afraid as I was tinkering again (I really am a bit of a tinker) - but it was delicious, creamy as vanilla ice cream, smooth to the bite and melting on the tongue, a wonderful counterpoint to the crisp sable nut biscuit.
This recipe is my contribution to Peanut Butter Boy's Great Peanut Butter Exhibition. If you want to stay true to peanut butter boy's mission, then make these cookies with peanut butter and any ground nut (cashew makes a delicious flour) and fill them with a salty, vanilla, peanut butter, butter cream.
Hazel butter Cookies (SCD) makes 12-14 cookies, 6-7 if sandwiched
4oz whole hazelnuts
2 heaped dessert spoons hazel butter
2 dessert spoons runny honey
1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 160C and roast the hazelnuts on a large tray until the brown husks have cracked and the nuts are starting to take a little colour. Leave the oven on until the cookies go in. Grease a large cookie sheet.
Tip the nuts into a clean tea towel, gather it up and rub the nuts inside the cloth until most of the skins are loose. Tip everything back onto the tray and go out side with the tray and the cloth. Shake the cloth to remove all the skins and blow gently on the nuts in the tray until all the brown husk has blown away in the wind - if you wear contacts close your eyes while you do this. Alternatively, use blanched hazels.
Grind the nuts in a food processor until really fine and pour into a mixing bowl. Add honey, hazelbutter and vanilla and mix to form a soft sticky paste.
Scoop large teaspoons of the mixture and roll them lightly in your hand to form a ball shape. Press two fingers on top of the ball to flatten it and make a shape on top of the cookie, or flatten with a fork to get the impression of the tines.
Bake for 12-15 mins until golden brown and firm. They will firm up on cooling though, so don't over cook. Leave to cool on the tray for five minutes and then gently transfer to a rack to cool.
Cocoa butter Truffle Filling
Melt a heaped dessertspoon of cocoa butter in a bain marie. Off the heat, stir in a teaspoon of honey, another of hazel butter (or peanut butter) and a few drops of vanilla extract. Stir in a dessertspoon of ice cold water and whisk until smooth again. Whisk in a dessertspoon of soft salted butter and keep whisking until pale, light and fluffy. Use immediately to sandwich the cookies, or the mixture will set.