Friday, September 19, 2008

sweet memories

growing up with my european parents often meant eating foods or dishes that you would never see on the tables of my canadian friends whose families were more or less north-americanized by at least 2 generations. i knew my friends thought we were weird from the faces they made when, on occasion, they would stay for supper. no, the food wasn't bad at all — it just wasn't the "meat and potatoes" they were used to. how embarrassed i was, thinking my friend was probably sorry s/he accepted the invitation and would never talk to me again ;) hamburgers and hotdogs didn't often grace our table. no, i got things like a green salad with escarole/frisée and arugula alongside this kind of sweet-sourish fresh apricot custardy tart .... and that wasn't part of dessert but rather what went with the salad for part of a summer meal. as i child, i just didn't appreciate it.

one thing my parents
, like many europeans, were big on when it came to baking was hazelnuts. with their very distinctive flavour, they showed up in many a thing from chocolate confections to cakes & breads/pastries and cookies.

hazelnuts, unless you buy them already skinned can be a real pain to prepare; i still have vivid memories of my mother roasting and then rubbing these little almost dried chickpea looking nuts with a tea towel -- sometimes pounds of them before the holidays -- to remove their dark brown papery skins. what work it was for something to be gobbled up in a fraction of the time it took to remove their outer coatings.

a while ago, i happened across a recipe for a cookie from one of my favourite {french} foodstylists-now-baker, florence edelmann, which is exactly the same as i remember eating on special occasions. they are sugary, crispy and full of hazelnut flavour. to be honest, all you need is just one or two of them to feel satisfied.

in the end, all i have to say is -- sugar fiends -- these are a definite "must try" if sweet things are up your alley & you like the taste of hazelnuts! not only are the following croquants aux noisettes terribly simple to make, they taste incredibly good, look like you spent a lot of money on them and store for a very long time without any deterioration to their texture or flavour. all this from very few ingredients!



croquants aux noisettes
sugary crispy hazelnut cookies

makes 18 cookies

ingredients:

1/2 c hazelnuts (whole) [70g]
6 tbsp flour [40 g]
1/2 c + 1/3 c minus 1 tbsp sugar [160 g]
1 pkg vanilla sugar - NOT vanilla extract
1 egg white

method:

preheat the oven to 400 F (200C) and line TWO baking sheet with parchment paper. you must use two sheets or bake one batch and then the next as the cookies need space on the baking sheet. they will spread out as they bake.

divide the hazelnuts equally. grind 1/4 c with 1 tbsp of the sugar until it is fine (i.e. almost powdery). be careful not to overprocess the nuts or they will become oily.


chop, by hand, the other 1/4 c. do not chop the nuts finely - you want a coarse texture.

place the nuts and sugars in a medium sized bowl.

stir to blend and add the egg white.

mix it until it is blended.

add the flour and stir to combine until you have a type of (sand-like) dough. don't overmix.

divide it into 18 equal portions.

using a tablespoon, place the cookie dough on the baking sheet - 9 per baking sheet, WELL spread out.

bake the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes - they should be lightly golden brown.

the undersides should be golden.

very important: let them cool several minutes on the baking sheet so they do not fall apart. they will be fragile at first but firm later. move them to a cooling rack after ~ 10 min.

these cookies stay crisp and store very well — umm, if you have any left later, that is!


enjoy!!

13 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

What wonderful memories! Those Croquants look particularly good! I love hazelnuts, especially in baked goods...

Cheers,

Rosa

burekaboy — said...

hi rosa - j'imagine que je ne dois pas te dire combien de fois on trouve les noisettes dans des recettes suisses, n'est-ce pas?! ;p

sara said...

wow! i also love hazelnuts, as you say, we all europeans do. very interesting recipe. i make a hazelnut dacquoise(pierre hermè recipe) which is similar to these cuties but no flour is added and five stiff whites are! your cookies look great, i'll be making them, you can bet.
p.s. i think you were very lucky to grow up with such parents so you could eat more than hamburgers ;)

burekaboy — said...

sari - this is a really good recipe because you can make them in less than, say, 15/20 min max. better yet if you have ground hazelnuts already! as for the food while growing up, by the time we got into our teens, we wore them down ;p hehe.

Ya'ara said...

Hi,

I've been reading your blog for some time now, and must say I'm enjoying it very much. I have all the ingredients right at home, and I think I'm going to give those a try!

One question: do you a think I can substitute the vanilla sugar with a vanilla bean seeds?

Thank you,
Ya'ara

burekaboy — said...

hi ya'ara - thanks for leaving a comment and saying hi. i'm glad to read you've been enjoying what i'm posting on my blog.

yes, it's perfectly fine to use vanilla bean seeds - in fact, it would probably be very good :)) listen, you could even use a 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract; i'm sure it wouldn't make a difference as it's a minute amount.

let me know how they turn out and what you think! b'hatzlacha.

Kate said...

Wow, those cookies look delicious! I think I may have to go to the shop for the ingredients...

Anonymous said...

Hello I just wanted to let you know I did your parve salmon borekas last shabbat and they were a big hit ! My family is usualy not into the soy thing but they ate them all ! I sure hope you are planning on doing a special RH post I'd love to see what you are cooking for the festivity. I will try your rond halla recipe and let you know how it goes !
A french sepharad admirer !
Hanna

burekaboy — said...

kate - hi there. i think you SHOULD get the ingredients! you won't regret it (i hope!!) thanks for the visit and comment.

bonjour hanna - thanks for letting me know how the burekas turned out; i'm happy to hear your family liked them enough to finish them all! yes, sometimes things made with soy products aren't to everyone's liking - in this recipe however you can't even tell it's soy/tofu. it works even better if you don't tell them! LOL.

as we say, b'ezrat HaShem, i will be able to post new some things for RH. i've been extremely busy this year and not had much time to post.

i hope you enjoy the challah. also check in the sidebar "the basics" for different ways to shape it for les yamim nora'im.

merci bcp pour ton commentaire et pour avez essayé les burekas. je ne sais jamais qui fait quoi sans les commentaires ou courriels.

je vous souhaite une bonne et heureuse nouvelle année avec bcp de bonnes choses a manger!

a la prochaine ;)

Ya'ara said...

Hi again,

Well, I made these drop-dead-gorgeous cookies and I think they are probably the tastiest cookies I have ever made!
you can see my post here:
http://www.bishulog.co.il/blog/2008/09/25/vanillahazelnutcookies/

I have substituted the flower with rice flower (now they are gluten free) and used the seeds from a 1/4 vanilla pod. They are fragrant and taste just like chocolate!

I made a second batch with some cocoa powder which I didn't like as much. (you gotta experiment..)


Thank you for the wonderful recipe
keep up the excellent work :-)
Shanah Tova,

Ya'ara

burekaboy — said...

ya'ara - kol ha kavod al ha'ugiyot!! :) wow, you even made them gluten free.

i'm really glad you liked them and that the recipe turned out successful for you.

ha blog shelach nifla!! lo yacholti lisloach lach tguvah k'she'bikarti - lo yodea ma kara aval ani avo od pa'am b'karov. raiti hamon she nireh me'ulah. hayu dvarim sh'ani batuach sh'ertzeh l'vashel o la'afot.

shanah tovah m'tukah lach.

יערה said...

Thank you so much for your kind words, do come again and I hope you could leave a comment next time.

Shana tova
Ya'ara

burekaboy — said...

יערה - אין דבר! זה אני שצריך להודות לך על מה שכתבת ועל הגרסה החדשה של העוגיות. ובטח שאני אבקר עוד פעם - הייתי בעבודה כשנסיתי לכתוב את התגובה ואני חושב שאצלנו יש פייער'ואל אז לכן לא יכולתי.

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