Thursday 2 May 2013

Roasted Hazelnut Butter Biscuits

Have you heard about cookbook clubs?

Essentially, every month you pick a book, a host and a date. Everybody chooses one or two recipes from the book, makes them and brings them along. Then you have a big feast.

A local cafe chef set up our cookbook club in Oxford, inspired by Tea's post How to Start a Cookbook Club. I really recommend starting one up - they're a great way to meet new people in your area and try recipes and books you wouldn't necessarily pick otherwise.

Last month we decided on Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. I had planned to make the Chocolate Pecan Krantz Cake again but I was late back from my weekend in Edinburgh (read: I missed my flight home...) and didn't have time to set it up.

Instead, I made the Tahini Cookies (picture here). I wouldn't have picked them out normally but they were the only things I could make with the ingredients I had on hand after a weekend away. I was worried that the tahini flavour would be a bit odd in cookies but we were all pleasantly surprised by how much we loved them.

While I was standing over the mixer, watching the tahini whirl into the creamed butter and sugar, I started thinking about the idea that tahini is essentially puréed sesame seeds - like a thin nut butter. That reminded me of hazelnut butter, which is a bit thinner than other nut butters and absolutely delicious.

So, of course, I had to try a hazelnut version of the tahini cookies.

I first made roasted hazelnut butter a few years ago - it's so simple yet really lovely. All you do is roast the hazelnuts, roughly skin them and then food processor them until smooth and slick with a pinch of salt. I've only tried it with hazelnuts but the process is the same with other nuts (including, of course, peanut butter). I like it smeared on toast with swirls of raspberry jam.

Unusually, the tahini cookies recipe tells you to knead the dough in the mixer and by hand before portioning it. It does make it smoother but I found that when I skipped the step and just brought the dough together as I shaped it into a ball it didn't change the texture particularly and made life easier.

I also tried making the biscuits in the food processor (combining the butter and sugar with the paste already in there, then continuing as before) to save on time and washing up but the texture wasn't quite as good. I found it crumbled a little more than normal - they're quite crisp usually, which I really like. Because they're crisp through (though admittedly with a slightly, slightly moist centre) and keep really well, I've also called them biscuits instead of cookies.

After two batches I decided I needed to ramp up the hazelnut flavour, so I came up with the idea of rolling the cookies in ground hazelnuts and squishing them with a flat object rather than a fork. I think they look really pretty with the speckled nuts and little cracked edges and they gave me the flavour boost I wanted.

I love hazelnuts and I'm really pleased to have a recipe on hand that focuses purely on their flavour. It's also a great excuse to keep a batch of roasted hazelnut butter in the fridge.


Finally, I'm incredibly honoured to have been picked for The Guild of Food Writers Awards shortlist for Food Blog of the Year 2013! I never thought I'd make the list again after winning last year so the call was a big surprise. I was actually on a coach going into London when my phone went - I think I might have disturbed the other passengers with my enthusiasm...

Roasted Hazelnut Butter Biscuits
(inspired by the tahini cookies in Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)

100g whole hazelnuts, skin on*
pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter at room temperature
70g light brown sugar
1 tbsp crème fraîche or double cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
135g plain flour

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Lightly grease a large baking tray. Pour the hazelnuts onto a small baking tray and roast for 8 minutes or until the skins have darkened and cracked open in places. Rub the skins off - some will stick but as long as you get about 2/3 off, don't worry. Tip into a food processor and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Remove 30g of the ground nuts from the mixer. Add a pinch of salt to the mixer then pulse the remaining nuts until they become a smooth paste (with such a small amount you may need to scrape down a few times). You could now transfer this to a sealed jar and keep for up to a few weeks in the fridge - the ground nuts would need to be kept in a sealed bag.

Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat just until creamy and uniform. Add the hazelnut paste (about 65g), crème fraîche/cream and vanilla to the bowl and beat until combined. Finally add the flour and mix on the lowest setting until combined. Increase the speed briefly to bring the mixture together into a smooth dough. Take a 20g chunk of the dough (about the size of a whole walnut shell or a squash ball) and roll it between your palms until smooth. Tip the ground hazelnuts out into a shallow bowl then roll the ball of dough around until fully coated. Transfer to the baking tray then repeat with the rest of the dough - I usually get 16-17 biscuits. Use a palette knife or similar to flatten the cookies to about 1 - 1.5cm thick.

Bake for 14-16 minutes, turning the tray once at 10 minutes to help get an even colour. The biscuits should be a deep golden colour, slightly bigger and have a few little cracks around the sides. Leave to cool on the tray for 5 minutes then fully cool on a wire rack. I think they're better a day or two later and they keep in a tin for at least a week (I haven't managed to keep a batch longer than that!).

(Makes 16-17 biscuits)

* If you'd prefer to make a big batch of the paste, feel free to use more nuts. To make the biscuits, scoop 65g of the hazelnut butter into the cookie dough.

Three more posts about hazelnuts:
Fig & Hazelnut Crumble Bars
Chocolate Hazelnut Torte with Smoked Salt
Homemade Nutella - a dégustation


  1. I have heard so much about this book, I am dying to get my hands on it. This recipe is Absolutely lovely. I love to make my own nut/seed butters, but I have never though of using them to make butter biscuits. I would love to turn these cookies into mini sandwiches and fill them with some hazelnut praline. Simple but satisfying.

  2. Congratulations on your nomination, great blog!

  3. I love hazelnut butter - it's one of the most frequently used ingredients in my kitchen. I've made several varieties of hazelnut cookie/biscuit over the years and I'm intrigued to try this version too. They look so pretty with the ground hazelnuts too.

    And congratulations again on the nomination, so well deserved.

  4. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:48

    It's a really beautiful book - we had quite a spread when we met! The cakes are really lovely too. I hope you do try making them into biscuits - it's a lovely way to use them. The praline sandwiches idea sounds divine.

  5. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:48

    Thank you Karen, I'm so happy!

  6. poiresauchocolat2 May 2013 at 09:52

    Just had a nose about for your hazelnut butter cookie recipe and it looks lovely. I tried your hazelnut butter rice crispy treats last summer too and they were delicious (though I think they fell apart a bit).

    & thanks again!

  7. what great ideas! a cookbook club, tahini cookies, hazelnut cookies! oh my. i keep hearing amazing things about that jerusalem cookbook, i must get my hands on it. and congrats on the nomination!

  8. Homemade roasted hazelnut butter is a thing of beauty. So intensely nutty and delicious, I often just eat it on its own. However, I imagine it's wonderful in a cookie as well. These looks great!

  9. Congratulations on your nomination, very well deserved for such good writing! The hazelnut butter sounds delicious, I haven't ever tried it at the hazelnut butter stage - I've just kept going with good dark chocolate to make 'nutella', next time I'll have to keep some aside and bake biscuits with it.

  10. Paula @ Vintage Kitchen3 May 2013 at 11:37

    You well deserve the nomination! I tend to convert whatever I can into `flour´, and all nuts get made into butters eventually. I´ve been eyeing a recipe for cookies with tahini for months now (from la tartine gourmande book), so I should definitely make them or make these! I like that they´re called biscuits.

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  17. Kirsty @ Bake Good6 May 2013 at 22:38

    These look so tasty! I love nut butters.
    I've just come across your site and there are some amazing recipes, I can't wait to try them.

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  20. anna @ annamayeveryday8 May 2013 at 18:34

    How interesting, I had turned the page on the tahini cookies in Jerusalem as I couldn't happily imagine the taste - I am going to try your hazlenut ones though, they look fantastic.

  21. I started a "foodie lit" book club recently; while not centered around cookbooks, we read food memoirs and build a meal each month around the recipes in the book. Tonight meeting was a Norman feast and a discussion of "On Rue Tatin." What fun! Yes, I think any food-loving person would enjoy such a gathering--it's a great way to get like-minded people together.

  22. realsimplefood.wordpress.com9 May 2013 at 13:14

    Congrats on the nomination! I love reading your blog and I come here not just for the recipes but also your writing!

    I love homemade nut butters, my current favorite being walnut butter (which I love on toasted sourdough bread with a drizzle of honey and a few specks of Maldon sea salt). And the biscuits look so good - I love that you tried to let the hazelnut flavour really shine and not be masked by other flavours.

  23. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:06

    Glad you like the ideas! It's a lovely book - I enjoyed reading it as well as the recipes. Thanks for the congratulations too.

  24. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:07

    It is, isn't it. It really fills your mouth with the flavour (sounds weird, but that's the only way I couldn't think of explaining it).

  25. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:08

    Thank you Ingrid! It's really lovely as just hazelnut without the chocolate too - I hope you try it next time.

  26. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:09

    Thanks Paula! I like the idea that everything is unavoidably ground down in your kitchen. I hadn't realised there was a tahini cookie recipe in that book, I'll have to have a look at my copy.

  27. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:10

    That's interesting - I guess it's also just personal preference over a small difference in texture.

  28. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:11

    Nut butters are great - which is your favourite? I'm so pleased you like the site.

  29. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:12

    I couldn't imagine them either - I definitely wouldn't have tried them if I hadn't had my hand forced by time and a lack of ingredients before my cookbook club. I hope you do try these - I'd love to know how they go.

  30. poiresauchocolat9 May 2013 at 14:13

    Oooooooooh that sounds amazing! I wish I could come. Is On Rue Tatin good?

  31. It's an enjoyable read, but it was a little unfair to read it right after we read "Under the Tuscan Sun," which is spectacular. I spent some time in Normandy in college, though, so I loved reading about the author's experience living there. Plus the recipes are amazing.

  32. poiresauchocolat11 May 2013 at 11:04

    Ah, I see. I need to read Under the Tuscan Sun too - I've only seen the film.

  33. poiresauchocolat11 May 2013 at 11:04

    Thank you! Walnut butter sounds amazing, especially with honey and salt.

  34. Probably almond butter, I love anything almond flavoured! I'll have to give these a try using that.

  35. MadisonMayberry14 May 2013 at 17:04

    Now that I work in a test kitchen, it's fun to be around a group that loves to cook as much as I do! We have started a cookbook club and each month we've covered a different book. It's a fantastic way to get a feel for a cookbook in a short amount of time. Usually, I buy a new cookbook and make a couple recipes. Rarely do I get a chance to try 10 or 12 recipes at once!

  36. poiresauchocolat14 May 2013 at 17:41

    I can imagine - it must be really enjoyable. I remember when you did the Sprouted Kitchen book - what have you guys done since?

  37. MadisonMayberry16 May 2013 at 13:27

    We have also done Smitten Kitchen and are moving on to Canal House Cooks this month. Thinking about Jerusalem next!

  38. What a brilliant idea - a Cookbook Club! Also, those cookies look "aaaaaah-mazing!"

  39. poiresauchocolat24 May 2013 at 10:41

    It's such fun, I hope you can find or create one near you.

  40. poiresauchocolat24 May 2013 at 10:41

    Ooh sounds good, I'd love to know how Canal House Cooks goes.

  41. MadisonMayberry4 June 2013 at 21:02

    We just had our book club with Canal House Cooks and the results were very mixed! The book is beautiful and the recipes are written in a pleasant and unique style but the recipes themselves were very underwhelming. I was not really a fan since the recipes seemed to either be very very easy or very difficult and time intensive/called for hard-to-find ingredients. I thought it was going to be practical but found it to be anything but!

  42. wow This look super yum..I would try this very soon..only reason which stops me to get fresh hazelnut in Mumbai so easily..
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