Dear Joan: These dense chocolate cookies combine ample amounts of ground hazelnuts and almonds for rich flavor and a moist, almost brownie-like texture.
You might be tempted, understandably, to hoard them all for yourself -- they're that delicious. Or maybe you'll let the holiday moment (or the shape of the cookies) take over and share them with that special someone.
-- Noelle Carter
Tortona chocolate cookies
Total time: 35 minutes, plus chilling and cooling time for the dough
Servings: 2 dozen cookies
Note: Adapted from chef Elena Guerrero-Berman of Massimo's Delectables. Be careful not to grind the nuts to a fine powder or flour; the nuts should have some texture (you will see small bits in the cookies when they are baked). A food processor will work best for grinding the nuts.
2 cups (4 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 cup ground hazelnuts
1 cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 cups pastry flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer using a paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, cream the butter with sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl periodically.
2. Gently fold the ground hazelnuts into the butter mixture until evenly combined, then fold in the ground almonds thoroughly.
3. Stir in the vanilla. Gently add the flour, 1 cup at a time, until thoroughly mixed. Slowly add the cocoa until combined. The dough will be very thick at this point, and you should easily be able to roll a small amount into a ball.
4. Shape the dough into a flat disc and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough at least two hours, but preferably overnight.
5. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough to one-half-inch thickness between 2 sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap (this keeps the dough from sticking to the rolling pin and alleviates the need for flouring). Cut hearts or other-shaped cookies approximately 2 1/2 inches in diameter, and place the cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake the cookies until puffed slightly and set on top, about 15 minutes. Rotate the cookies halfway through for even heating and coloring.
6. Remove the cookies, still on their sheets, to a rack to cool completely before serving (they're fragile just out of the oven and will crumble if moved while still warm).
Each cookie: 317 calories; 4 grams protein; 35 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams fiber; 20 grams fat; 10 grams saturated fat; 40 mg. cholesterol; 3 mg. sodium.
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