We are still on the way to Christmas. And as I have said it many times, 'tis my favourite season of the year, so I intend to make the most of it!
Today we are discussing potential Christmas gifts to your loved ones, or to yourself, or little treats that you can sell (or offer!) to your customers. There is always a good reason to bake these, so go ahead and try!
These sweet treats consist of sweet pastry baked and cut in your desired shape, and then filled with home made dark chocolate Gianduja. There is NO WAY anyone can resist that!
The idea came to me as I was baking some cookies to decorate for my gingerbread village. I thought to myself: these taste great, but what would make them even more irresistible? Add some chocolate and hazelnuts was the answer, and what a brilliant one (in all modesty, as usual)!
The cookies used here are not gingerbread but as I mentioned earlier, sweet pastry which is exactly the one I use to line tarts. It is quite simple, and I have been using it for years. Now, as we have to give credit where credit is due, this sweet pastry is not mine but the one of the great, the one and only Pierre Hermé (a renown French pastry Chef whom some of you will know as the macarons Master).
This recipe will give you about 25 cookies
Ground Almonds 25g
Whole eggs x1
Vanilla Pod 1/2
Place in your standing mixer bowl all the ingredients EXCEPT the egg.
Mix on slow to medium speed with the paddle attachment until reaching a very thin crumble texture (it should almost look like rough sand - if too thick it means that you still have big chunks of butter, if you go too far then you will obtain a ball of dough which you don't want - yet).
Add the egg in one go and keep mixing. As soon as you reach an even dough consistency, you can stop (do not over mix it or the gluten will become too elastic which causes your dough to retract when baking).
Place the whole dough in some cling film and flatten as to get cold faster and place in the fridge for at least an hour - ideally you want a few hours in the fridge but one hour is an absolute minimum.
Once well rested, flour slightly your table top and spread your dough to about 2mm thick.
Cut the shapes with your chosen cookie cutter and place on baking tray.
Note: I use a special micro-perforated silicone mat, which allows the air to circulate properly during baking. This results in perfectly flat dough, no need to make holes in your dough before cooking to avoid air bubbles!
Ideally leave another hour in the fridge on the mat (optional) and then bake to 150ºC for about 20 minutes, turning your tray halfway through for an even golden colour.
Dark Chocolate Gianduja
Icing Sugar 50g
70% Couverture Chocolate 100g
Roast your hazelnuts until golden. Leave them to cool completely.
Melt the chocolate and leave to cool - you will still need it melted so careful not to leave it for too long!
Place the cooled hazelnuts and icing sugar in your kitchen blender (I use Thermomix - you need a blender with strong blades), and mix until obtaining a paste. Pour the melted but cooled chocolate in one go and mix it all together. Scrape off the sides and bottom of your blender to make sure you didn't leave any melted chocolate unmixed, and mix one last time on high speed.
Pour into a clean flat container. It will be ready to be piped when it has slightly set.
Now that your cookies have cooled, and your gianduja has a pipeable consistency, pipe in the centre of the bottom cookie, and close with the top one to make a sandwich.
Place in the fridge for half an hour to allow to set.
Once set, decorate as you please. I personally piped some white chocolate and dusted with chopped hazelnuts to add extra crunch. Super lush!
These cookies can be kept in an airtight container in a dry place between a week and ten days.
I hope you enjoy making these, and trust me when I say this, you sure will enjoy trying them !