From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...This lovely European-style icebox cookie is perfect to serve with afternoon tea or coffee. The recipe, which was developed by Kate Ramos for CHOW, uses five basic ingredients and while the dough needs time to chill, it can be made in about 15 minutes, if you have a food processor and can buy skinned and toasted hazelnuts. That's not a problem for those of us who live in Oregon. Hazelnuts are grown here and they come to market in all guises, including skinned and toasted. I was a bride when I first made hazelnut cookies, and, in my rush to impress and fill a cookie tray with every variety known to man, I decided to save some time and bypassed skinning the nuts. It turned out to be a huge mistake because the skin of a hazelnut is very bitter and my cookies were ruined. If you have to skin the nuts yourself, Fine Cooking has a fantastic article on the two ways this can be done. You can find the article here.This recipe also works well with almonds which you may find easier to deal with. I like to make the dough for these cookies the day before I plan to bake them. The dough is crumbly and much easier to slice when it is really cold. The finished cookie is slightly sandy in texture and its buttery flavor is made more interesting by the hint of licorice that comes from the anise seeds. The kids won't care much for these, but lovers of just sweet European cookies will enjoy them. They are a sophisticated slice and bake cookie that might be a nice addition to your repertoire. Here's how they are made.
Hazelnut-Anise Cookies...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Kate Ramos and CHOW.com
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, cooled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons anise seed
2 sticks (8-ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1) Combine hazelnuts and sugar in bowl of a food processor. Pulse about 10 times until nuts are finely ground. Add flour, salt, and anise seed and pulse to combine.
2) Add butter and pulse until dough just comes together, about 1 minute. Divide dough in half and roll each half into a 1-1/2-inch wide log. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour or keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.
3) When ready to bake, arrange a rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
4) Working with one chilled log at a time, slice dough into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place them about 1/2 inch apart on a baking sheet.
5) Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the bottom edges become pale and golden. Repeat with the other log. Cool cookies for about 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Yield: About 50 cookies.
Cook's Note: The cookie dough can be frozen for up to1 month. Frozen dough should sit at room temperature for about 40 minutes before cutting and baking.
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