Being such a hit with my friends this year, I knew I had to post this recipe. I bring you another one of my crunchy crispy cookie series – hazelnut orange cookies glazed with white chocolate. Have I got your attention? Good, let’s get started.

These cookies turned out pretty large because I wanted to use my cookie stamp. I just love how you can now have all those things you never thought you needed for decorating. They are sold in literally every bigger store and I always find myself in (sweet) pain trying to choose which yet another one decorating tool I simply NEED to buy this year. There are now festive loaf pans, bundt pans, spatulas and whisks, cookie cutters, stamped rolling pins, you name it… I swear, my wallet gets jittery whenever I stroll through domestic section of department stores. But you know, whatever makes you happy…

And these cookies made me happy. They made my friends very happy and they could make you happy if you tried this recipe. They are very easy to make, the ingredient list is rather short, but they all work so well together. I am normally not keen on white chocolate. I find it to sweet and sticky for my taste. But in this case I just knew it will work perfectly with orange and hazelnuts. Although orange works great with dark chocolate as well, it makes for a more decadent, sharp and bitter flavour. White chocolate actually lightened these cookies, giving them wonderful sweetness and creaminess opposed to their crispy texture. If you prefer, make your life easier and just drizzle melted chocolate carelessly over the top of baked cookies. However, I wanted to glaze just the bottom; otherwise, stamping them would have been useless.

Of course you could use other nuts, like walnuts or almonds, but I think hazelnuts work great in this combination of flavours. The result is a thin crispy cookie scented with vanilla and orange with a rich and sweet white chocolate glaze. What more could you ask for on a cold winters day?

preparation time: about 30 minutes, does not include chilling the dough
baking time:  10 minutes, 180°C (350 F) for toasting hazelnuts
                           about 10 minutes, 180°C (350 F) for baking cookies

Ingredients for the cookie dough:

90 g hazelnuts
270 g all-purpose flour
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
zest of half an orange (always use organic oranges for zesting)
200 g soft unsalted butter
80 g vanilla scented sugar*
1 whole egg, large

Ingredients for the glaze:

200 g white chocolate**
2 Tbsp vegetable oil

*Click to see easy instructions on how to make your own vanilla sugar.
**Use a good quality melting chocolate, such as cuverture white chocolate.

1. Start by toasting the hazelnuts. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven at 180°C/350 F for about 10 minutes. Then rub them in a clean kitchen towel or between your hands until most of the skin falls off. Don’t bother to peel it all off, toasting just enhances the flavour.

2. Put toasted hazelnuts in the bowl of food processor and grind them finely. Combine them with the rest of the dry ingredients – flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and orange zest and mix shortly with a spoon.

3. In a separate bowl cream together soft butter and sugar. Use an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, hand mixer with a whisk attachment or simply a hand held whisk.

4. When the butter mixture gets light and creamy, add a whole egg. Continue mixing for a few more minutes until everything gets well-incorporated.

5. Add all the dry ingredients and mix them in using a spatula. Mix just until everything is combined. The dough should be soft, but not to sticky. As it cools, it will harden, so form it into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or even overnight.

6. After the dough has chilled, roll it out thinly on a floured surface or between two pieces of parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350 F. Using a cookie cutter, cut out the cookies of any shape you like and arrange them on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

7. Bake the cookies for about 8 to 10 minutes, depending on their size and  thickness. They should start to get some colour at the bottom and around the edges, but know that they will be very fragile as soon as they are baked. So I suggest having another baking pan ready to bake the second batch of cookies as you allow the first batch to set and harden on the baking pan undisturbed.

8. After all of the cookies have been baked, make the glaze. Melt white chocolate with two tablespoons of vegetable oil in the microwave. Or do what I do and put the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl and place it over another bowl of hot water (double boiler method). Let it melt slowly.

9. There are several ways to glaze the cookies and I suggest you see for yourself which one works the best. Firstly, you could transfer the glaze into a wide bowl and carefully dunk the bottom of the cookies. Just be careful as they might snap if you handle them too hard.

Secondly, you could put a teaspoon of the glaze to the centre of the cookie and spread it with a butter knife (that method worked the best for me). Or you could simply put the glaze in a zip-log bag, cut the corner and generously drizzle the cookies randomly. Whichever method you use, place the glazed cookies back to the baking pan still covered with parchment paper (glazed side up, of course) in a single layer and allow the glaze to set. Being at room temperature, it could take up to two hours (which depends on the room temperature), so if you are in a hurry, place them into the fridge and the glaze will harden in about half an hour.

Enjoy with a glass of milk or tea. Happy baking!

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