We are introduced, at an early age, to the sweet wondernous of a cookie. From teething cookies to soothe the swollen aching gums of incoming incisors, onto animal crackers purchased in rectangular-shaped boxes bearing a string handle for easy toting by little fingers. Deciding which part of the animal should be eaten first-the trunk of the elephant or the tail of a lion-depended on how hungry one was. Savor each and every one or simply gobble them down as fast as possible.

My next cookie memory would be the ever famous, possibly all-time favorite, the chocolate chip cookie. There is nothing better than to bite into a round circle of baked dough sprinkled with gooey melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. A chocolate chip cookie can dry tears, heal broken hearts, mend scraped knees and elbows and solve sibling arguments. Most of the problems in the world could likely be solved by a properly baked, right out of the oven, chocolate chip cookie. The power of a cookie is underestimated.

I will attempt in the next 365 days to prepare and comment on a year’s worth of different cookies-one for each day. My goal is to share with others my extreme love of cookies-baking them and especially eating them! Feel free to send me your favorite recipe, your earliest cookie memories, or how cookies may have influenced your life. Cookies Rule!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cookie Recipe #176 - Hazelnut Spritz

Even though this cookie is called a spritz, a cookie press is not necessary although it could be used. The alternative is to use a pastry bag with a large star tip. I didn't toast the hazelnuts and they turned out okay, but toasting them gives the cookie a richer, nuttier flavor.

Ingredients: 3/4 cup hazelnuts, 3/4 cup butter, softened, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 egg, 1 1/2 teaspooons vanilla, 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, cut up, or 1/4 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 teaspoon shortening.

Instructions: Spread hazelnuts in a shallow baking pan and bake at 325 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until lightly toasted; cool. Place nuts in a food processor or chopper and process until finely ground; set aside. Increase oven temperature to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl beat butter; add sugar until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla, mixing well. Gradually add in flour and ground nuts until thoroughly incorporated.

Place dough in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (1/2-inch opening). Pipe dough in 2 1/2-inch lengths onto an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in 350 degree oven about 10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack placed over waxed paper and let cool.

In a small heavy saucepan, melt chocolate and shortening (or in microwave) over low heat, stirring frequently. Pour into a small, self-sealing plastic bag; seal. Cut a small hole in one corner of the bag and pipe chocolate onto cookies; let stand until set.

Makes about 40 cookies.

"Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Cookies", Meredith Corporation, Des Moines, IA, 2003.

Cookies Rule!!!

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