I recently purchased a bottle of Frangelico, a hazelnut liqueur which is made in Italy, and have been itching to use it in my cooking. Along with chopped hazelnuts I used a good splash of this heady liqueur in the recipe that I give here. I have also been toying with the idea of baking a pear and hazelnut Battenberg Cake sandwiched together with chocolate ganache and covered with a hazelnut marzipan. I also love the idea of a hazelnut ice-cream... it sounds like some experimenting is going to be done! More on these ideas again; but what you can see is that I am very excited about the culinary possibilities that the purchase of the bottle of Frangelico has presented.
In doing research on the liqueur, I was surprised to find that it has only been on sale since the 1980s, though the manufacturers claim that it is based on an old recipe created by a hermit monk called Fra Angelico.
Hazelnuts improve immeasurably if slightly roasted before being used. I always tend to do this because I like their taste to be as deeply nutty as possible. I have used finely chopped hazelnuts in this recipe; I gently roasted the shelled whole nuts for about five minutes before removing their skins. The easiest way to do this is to place them on a clean tea-towel whilst they are still warm from the oven and rub them together without breaking them up. The friction created by the tea towel and the nuts rubbing against each other result in the skins flaking off fairly easily. It’s not that difficult a task, but I still find it tiresome. You can buy ready skinned or blanched hazelnuts, but you will pay more for them and I have always found the unskinned nuts somehow more hazelnutty!
I think that the cookies look so pretty but what I am most pleased with is the fact that the two separate flavours come through distinctly and separately, yet complement each other so well. This is hardly surprising as chocolate and hazelnut is one of those classic combinations found in Nutella, Cadbury’s Whole Nut Bars but also in gianduja – a chocolate and hazelnut paste often used as a tempting centre in quality chocolate sweets.
Ingredients:For the hazelnut layer:
150g plain flour
35g icing sugar
50g lightly roasted hazelnuts, skinned and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of hazelnut liqueur
For the chocolate layer:
125g plain flour
25g cocoa powder
35g icing sugar
1 egg yolk
Method:1. Preheat the oven to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas Mark 5.
2. To make the hazelnut dough, place the flour in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the icing sugar and stir to distribute evenly. Then add the chopped hazelnuts and mix again. Finally add the hazelnut liqueur and mix with your hands to form a dough that binds together. Set aside.
3. To make the chocolate dough, place the flour in a large mixing bowl and rub in the butter as above. Sieve in the icing sugar and cocoa powder and stir well to distribute evenly. Add the egg yolk and mix with your hands to form a dough that binds together.
4. Separately roll out both doughs on a lightly floured surface to similar sized rectangles about 30cms x 20cms. Place the chocolate rectangle on the hazelnut rectangle and roll lengthways along the longer edge to create a tight roll, similar to a swiss roll.
5. Cut the dough into slices about 1cm thick and place on a parchment lined baking tray, leaving space between each biscuit to allow for spreading when cooked.
6. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until they are a light golden colour. When baked, take out of oven and let them cool on the baking trays for about 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 15-20 cookies.