Hazelnut and Caramel Squares 25.000

Jennifer Chase for The Washington Post

Holiday Cookies 2017 Dec 1, 2017

Smart idea here: By baking cut and topped squares of dough, you get cookies that have better coverage, with less crumbling. The nut topping caramelizes while it’s in the oven.

If you can’t find whole hazelnuts that are skinned, it’s pretty easy to do it yourself. See the NOTE, below.

Need more inspiration? Check out our Holiday Cookie Generator, featuring more than 300 recipes to suit any taste.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to be frozen for 30 to 40 minutes. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.


Servings:
25 pieces

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 25 pieces

Ingredients
  • 2 1/2 cups whole skinned hazelnuts (see NOTE)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaky sea salt, such as Maldon brand

Directions

Line an 8-inch square pan with parchment paper, with some overhang. Crumple the paper a few times so it becomes soft enough to fit into the corners.

Combine 1 cup of the hazelnuts, all the flour and 6 tablespoons of the sugar in a food processor; process for about 2 minutes, or until finely ground. Add the butter; process for about 1 minute, or just until a ball of dough forms. Press the dough evenly and smoothly into the lined pan.

Coarsely chop the remaining 1 1/2 cups of hazelnuts, aiming for mostly halves and leaving some whole.

Combine the remaining sugar and the heavy cream in a small deep saucepan over medium-high heat; cook, stirring for at least 3 minutes or until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat; add the coarsely chopped nuts, then spoon the mixture evenly over the dough in the pan, pressing them in gently. Sprinkle the salt over the surface. Freeze the dough, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Lift the frozen dough out of its pan; cut it into 5 equal strips in each direction to create 25 squares. Arrange as many as will fit on the baking sheet, with at least 1 inch between them. Return the remaining squares to the refrigerator.

Bake (middle rack) for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are caramelized and the hazelnuts are golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before serving or storing. Repeat with the remaining dough.

NOTE: To skin hazelnuts, bring a few inches of water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add about 1 teaspoon of baking soda and then the hazelnuts. Boil for several minutes, until the water turns dark brown and the skins begin to easily peel off the nuts. (You can test one by removing it from the pot, running it under cool water and seeing how well the skin slips off.) Drain the nuts from the water.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "The Artful Baker: Extraordinary Desserts From an Obsessive Home Baker" by Cenk Sonmezsoy (Abrams, 2017).

Tested by Helen Horton.

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