I think these are my new favorite cookies. Yes, I'm almost sure they are. Actually, any version of a shortbread cookie is high on my list. These are mildly sweet with a light crumbly texture. For this batch Sarah and I substituted walnuts and almonds (1/4 cup each), because that's what we had on hand--so if you can't get hazelnuts (or filberts as we call them here), other nuts suitable for baking will do fine. Time-Saver Tip: We used the coffee grinder for a fine chop on the nuts. Short bursts. The nuts should be close to the consistency of coarse cornmeal, but don't over due it or you'll end up with nut butter. Another yummy variation we did was to add a teaspoon of instant coffee granules to the heated cream before adding the chocolate morsels. Just don't use brewed coffee--water will cause melting chocolate to seize and turn into an impossible grainy mass. A most dreadful situation. OK. So here's the recipe::
Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 egg, beaten
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped fine
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and egg; mix well.
2. Sift flour and salt together; add to creamed mixture slowly until just combined.
3. Stir in chopped hazelnuts. Place dough in a covered glass bowl (or wrap dough in plastic wrap), and chill for at least an hour or overnight.
4. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll dough into 1-inch balls and place them on baking sheets one-inch apart. We use a small ice-cream scoop to get a uniform size.
5. Gently press dough balls flat (about 1/4" thick), with the bottom of a measuring cup or small drinking glass; we use a waxed paper square to keep dough from sticking. Bake for 10-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes before transferring cookies to racks to cool completely.
6. In a small saucepan, bring cream to a scald; pour over chocolate morsels and stir gently until glossy. Assemble cookies. Return them to cookie sheets; chill to set chocolate (about 10 minutes) if desired. Store in cookie tins up to 2 weeks. Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.