Ina Garten specializes in decadence without breaking a sweat.
Take her catchphrase – How easy is that? – as an example. It suggests that even intimidating dishes can be made totally doable, like these pretty and delicious shortbread cookies.
The Barefoot Contessa shares a recipe for a cookie with a universally-beloved flavor profile. Who could resist chocolate, Nutella and butter?
“This is another variation of my friend Eli Zabar’s delicious shortbread cookies,” she writes in her 2010 cookbook, How Easy Is That?. “I love the combination of shortbread, roasted hazelnuts, and chocolate. The shortbread can be baked in advance, wrapped with plastic, and then filled with Nutella just before serving.”
Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Makes 18 sandwich cookies
• ½ cup whole hazelnuts
• ¾ pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
• 3½ cups all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ¾ cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella
• Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Place the hazelnuts on a sheet pan, roast for 10 minutes, and allow to cool. Place the nuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and pulse until finely ground.
3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and granulated sugar together on low speed until they are just combined. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts plus 2 teaspoons of water. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt and then, with the mixer on low, add it slowly to the butter mixture. Add the hazelnuts and mix on low until the dough comes together. Dump onto a floured board and shape into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.
4. On a floured board, cut the dough in half and roll each piece ¼ inch thick. (Be sure it’s not thicker.) Cut 36 (2¾-inch) rounds with a plain or fluted cutter. Use a ¾-inch cutter to cut a small circle out of the middle of half the cookies. Place all the cookies on sheet pans lined with parchment paper and chill for 15 minutes.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating once, until the edges of the cookies begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
6. Spread the Nutella thickly on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the tops of the cutout cookies lightly with confectioners’ sugar and place them on top of the Nutella, dusted side up.
Reprinted from Barefoot Contessa How Easy Is That? Fabulous Recipes & Easy Tips Copyright 2010 Ina Garten. Published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc.