Christmas cookie platter is a big thing in Croatia. Every household has to have a plate of many different shaped and flavoured cookies. Christmas is getting closer and I am slowly filling out my cookie list. I use this cookie dough for several different cookie shapes and it is a favorite of mine. I am sure it will make any Christmas cookie mix prettier and more delicious. And what I love the most about it, it gets better over time. So you can make this a couple of days ahead and just store it in an airtight container.
A funny thing that most of Croatian guys have lived to see, for at least once in their lives, is coming to grandmas house and seeing a cookie box and naturally expecting it to be filled with cookies. But no! In most cases, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Balkan grandmas like to store their sewing kit inside. That is such a common thing, only people there would understand. 😀
Anyhow, after my short digression, let’s proceed with the cookies.
As I often mention, I adore hazelnuts. And I add them in different batters whenever it is appropriate because hazelnuts make every cake taste better. If it is a chocolate one. And sometimes even if it is not.
Toasting nuts is important
I always like to emphasise toasting the nuts in a hot pan for a couple of minutes, it enhances natural nut oils to release and enrich the flavour. So, do not skip that part if adding nuts.
When toasted, set them aside on a dry kitchen towel and let them cool slightly. by rubbing them inside the towel, peel the skins. They should come off easily. Separate the skins and then ground the nuts in a food processor as fine as your recipe requires it. In this recipe, grind them quite finely.
How to prepare the cookie dough
Start off by weighing all of your ingredients.
Combine all of the dry ingredients and butter cut into cubes. Use your hands to combine these ingredients and to achieve a sand-alike mixture. It will take you a couple of minutes. After this step is done, add eggs and vanilla extract and combine them gently and with working the dough as little as possible. If you work the dough too much, it will become more stretchy and gummy due to gluten development. So do that as fast as possible.
Now it is necessary to store prepared dough into the fridge to set. Butter needs to become solid again in order that we could roll the dough out and cut coot out the shapes we want. I like dividing the dough in two batches so that one batch can stay in the fridge while you are working with the other one.
Wrap your two dough balls in a plastic wrap and leave them in the fridge for at leat 30 minutes to firm up.
Shaping the button cookies
When your dough is ready, take it out of the fridge. In the meantime, turn the oven on and let it preheat to 180°C or 360 F.
Put some parchment paper inside your baking tray and start shaping the cookies.
You are going to roll small amounts of the dough between the palms of your hand to get nicely and equally shaped balls, approximate size of a walnut. You can use your kitchen scale and weigh the dough in order to get uniformed cookies, all same in size. If you are more easygoing, do it by eye.
Arrange them on a baking tray and leave some space in between because they tend to spread while baking. When the baking tray is filled, take some kitchen utensil that has a pointed top, something as a wooden spoon used for cooking. The purpose of this is to make small holes on top of each ball. You can use a pencil with a rounded top or something similar. Make sure to put that tip into the flour first so it does not stick to the dough. Make a hole on each ball and put them in a preheated oven.
Bake these for about 10 minutes, depending on your oven. The key to all shortbread cookies is to bake them until the edges slightly change in colour. Don’t let them go slightly brown on the whole surface, then they are already over baked.
Take them out on a wiring rack and let them cool down completely. Proceed with making and baking the rest of the cookies.
Filling and decorating the cookies
After your cookies have cooled down, it is time to fill that middle whole with a filling of your choice. I have used a chocolate spread similar to Nutella, just a little denser. You can use Nutella, any jam of your liking, or make a chocolate ganache.
Fill a piping bag with the filling you are planning to use and pipe it into a little whole on each cookie. And that is it.
Storing for later
Store the cookies in an airtight container and keep them at a room temperature. Try eating them within a couple of days . If you are not planning on eating them anytime soon, freeze them and put the filling on when you defrost them.
Chocolate filled button cookies with hazelnuts – ideal for Christmas
- 500 g flour 17.6 oz
- 150 g hazelnuts 5.3 oz
- 220 g powdered sugar 7.8 oz
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 300 g butter 10.6 oz
- 2 eggs small to medium sized
- Use your hands to combine all of the dry ingredients and butter cut into cubes. Next, add eggs and vanilla extract and combine them gently and with working the dough as little as possible.
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes at least.
- Roll small amounts of the dough between the palms of your hands to get nicely and equally shaped balls, approximate size of a walnut.
- Arrange them on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and leave some space in between because they tend to spread while baking.
- Take a kitchen utensil that has a pointed top, something as a wooden spoon used for cooking. Make a small hole on top of each ball, that is going to be the place for the filling.
- Bake the cookies in an oven, preheated to 180°C or 360 F for about 10 minutes. They are done when the edges slightly change in colour.
- Take them out on a wiring rack and let them cool completely. Proceed with making and baking the rest of the cookies.
- Fill a piping bag with the filling of your choice and pipe it into little holes on top of each cookie.