Saturday, April 16, 2011

New twist on snickerdoodles...

I'm a sucker for hazelnuts - I'd keep them stocked in the pantry more often than I do, but I know I'd just eat them all before I got to use them in a recipe. A few recipes have been kickin' around my desk using the nuts for a couple weeks as they have been whispering my name when we travel down the nut isle in Trader Joe's. We finally nailed down what we were going to use them in - these extraordinarily-lengthy-titled Hazelnut-Cream-Stuffed Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies.

The dough for these cinnamon-y (and, of course, I used fancy Vietnamese cinnamon - I find it has more muscle, mixes in well and has this dimensional sweetness that does a lingering dance on the tongue, rather than fading instantly away) cookies uses a pure butter base, a duo of sugars and a splash of vanilla to round out any rough edges. You won't need to chill the dough, we means you'll get cookies that much faster!

While the original recipe called for making a whopping 6 sandwich cookies, we figured we could stretch the dough out a bit more and not be so overkill with the size - 24 cookies (making 12 sandwiches) felt much more sensible without compromising the end result. The dough is soft, but we were able to scoop and handle it without leaving our fingers covered in stickiness. Instead of rolling the balls to coat, just the tops of the dough balls are covered in a speckled blend of granulated sugar and more of that precious cinnamon.

Once the cookies have baked and are cooling, don't hit the off button on the oven just yet. To make the filling, we scattered hazelnuts on a short baking sheet and roasted them until their brown jackets began to split and the nutmeat underneath began to shift from pale blonde to a toasty light golden brown. To get the skin off the nuts, as soon as you pull them out from the oven, scoop them out onto a clean kitchen towel, wrap them up and let them sit to steam for just a couple minutes. Then, vigorously rub them together (still in the towel, while they are warm) and most of their skins will fall off.

Don't fret if they are not all pristinely clean - the bits that remain only add to the filling, whereas if all of the skin was left, their bitterness would be very present. You can save yourself a step by buying pre-skinned hazelnuts, but I'm rarely able to find them in the store and the extra expense isn't worth it. After coarsely grinding the cooled, naked hazelnuts, they are pepped up with confectioners' sugar, a couple tablespoons of butter and just a note of salt, then processed again to make a spreadable consistency.

Now, I know why they would classify this as a snickerdoodle, but for me, I do feel a real (or maybe traditional is the word I should use) one has to have cream of tartar in it. Why? That's hard to pin down exactly - for me the texture is just slightly different enough to notice and the flavor seems more pronounced in the cookie. With that said, thankfully that's not enough to turn me off trying a cookie, especially these! I am glad we pared down the size some - I could have definitely eaten a giant one, but these spiced sandwiches turned into a decent sized snack that hit the spot, without leaving one feeling overly guilty.

I do have a problem after all of this... I have plenty of hazelnuts leftover (which is good!), but I better figure out soon how to use them before I waste them all by simply snacking on the groovy nuts!


  1. Snickerdoodles are my absolute favorite cookie! I love this take on them :)

  2. I love your site and LOVELOVELOVE Saigon cinnamon! I get it mail order from Atlantic Spice in MA. (I get all my herbs and spices there!) And hulled hazelnuts from Oh! Nuts In Brooklyn - only $8.99/lb!

    I made a chocolate hazelnut filling (like Nutella) at Christmas that would probably be stellar in these cookies. Take a gander. The recipe comes from la Cucina Italiana.

    Thanks for the great recipes. I definitely want to try those cornmeal lime cookies!

  3. Courtney - I can't get enough of them.

    Baking Serendipity - Thank you!

    Tim - Thanks for those sources! I'll give them a look.