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Hazelnut Cookies With Chocolate Smear

These nutty, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread hazelnut cookies are topped with a chocolate smear and crunchy hazelnuts. They’re a delicious treat for the holidays, a tea or shower.

You can also serve them plain, with a chocolate smear of drizzle, or dipped in chocolate.

hazelnut cookies with chocolate and crushed hazelnuts on red plate.

I love plain buttery shortbread with a cup or coffee or tea. It’s like a comfort dessert. These hazelnut cookies start with a simple shortbread cookie recipe with added nuts.

The hazelnuts add the perfect nutty texture and taste. The flavor is prominent, especially if you sprinkle extra nuts on the chocolate smear. You can buy crushed hazelnuts, but we added instructions to make your own if you can’t find any.

The cookies are pretty simple to make and a nice addition to the holiday showcase or cookie exchange. Or you can keep them on hand in the freezer for the occasional sweet tooth.

Make a second batch to gift during the holiday season since everyone loves cookies!

What to expect

  1. The hazelnut shortbread cookies have a delicate crumbly texture and are wonderfully buttery tasting. Hazelnuts add a nutty flavor.
  2. The chocolate smear and extra nuts take the cookies to another level, but they are great plain too.
  3. You can see in the pictures the cookies are not perfectly shaped – I call them rustic 🙂 – no one ever cares.
  4. The cookies make a great holiday gift.
  5. About 40 cookies are ready in under 40 minutes.

Ingredients -tailored to your taste

butter, sugar, cornstarch, crushed toasted hazelnuts, chocolate chips.

Dough: The dough is a simple shortbread dough with flour, butter, vanilla and icing sugar (also called confectioners’ sugar or powdered sugar).

Hazelnuts have a distinct and delicious flavor. If you prefer, you can substitute toasted walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts.

Chocolate chips: any kind – dark chocolate, semisweet or milk chocolate will work. Or you can use chunks of a chopped chocolate bar and melt it.

Step-by-step instructions

cookie dough in blue mixing bowl with crushed hazelnuts added.
Beat the room temperature butter and the sugar, salt and vanilla in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Add flour a bit at a time. Stir in ground hazelnuts. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
balls of cookie dough, half of them pressed flat on cookie sheet.
Roll dough into balls and place them on prepared baking sheets. Flatten the cookie dough balls.
raw hazelnut cookies on parchment lined baking sheet.
Bake for 10-13 minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.
baked hazelnut cookies on wire rack.
Allow to cool on a wire cooling rack.
hazelnut cookies, half plain and half with chocolate and crushed hazelnuts on wire rack.
While still on the wire rack, smear with chocolate and sprinkle cookies with crushed hazelnuts.

Shaping and Decorating Tips

Here are a few options to consider when shaping and decorating the cookies.

  1. Cookies are first formed into balls. If you want uniform balls, use a cookie scoop to measure out the dough. You can flatten them into circles with the bottom of a glass or use fork tines to flatten and make crisscross patterns. Or cookies can also be formed into rectangles.
  2. Instead of spreading chocolate on half the cookies, you can dip half the cookie into melted chocolate or even drizzle on melted chocolate (white and dark). To make the melted chocolate looser (dippable or for drizzling), stir in a teaspoon of vegetable oil after microwaving it.
  3. Skip the chocolate and extra nuts and just sprinkle the shortbread lightly with icing/powdered sugar.

Shortcut

Buy toasted chopped hazelnuts if you can – try your local bulk food store. This will save time from roasting, peeling and chopping the nuts on your own. You can also skip the chocolate smear and just dust the cookies with powdered sugar.

Make-ahead

  • These shortbread cookies can be made weeks ahead and frozen, when cooled completely, in an airtight container. If you want to store them in a sealed ziploc bag, store them plain, then add the chocolate and nuts (if desired) the day of or day before serving.
  • You can also prepare and freeze the dough for later baking. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container before freezing. Thaw the dough in the fridge before baking.

Recipe FAQs

Are these chewy cookies?

No, hazelnut shortbread cookies are not chewy. They have a classic crumbly and buttery texture that shortbread is known for.

Why are my cookies browning too quickly?

To prevent cookies from browning too quickly, make sure your oven temperature is set to 325F/163C (not higher) and that the oven rack is in the middle position. Also, most oven temperatures are off, so consider buying a cheap oven thermometer to adjust your oven temp as needed.

hazelnut cookies with chocolate and crushed hazelnuts on red plate.

Other easy treats to make

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hazelnut cookies with chocolate and crushed hazelnuts on red plate.
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Hazelnut Cookies With Chocolate Smear

These nutty, melt-in-your mouth shortbread hazelnut cookies topped with a chocolate smear and crushed hazelnuts are a treat for any tea, shower or holiday spread.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time12 minutes
Total Time37 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 40 cookies
Author: Cheryl

Equipment

  • electric hand mixer (or stand mixer with paddle attachment)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups softened butter (2 1/2 sticks)
  • 1 1/3 cups icing/powdered sugar
  • pinch salt (or 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted hazelnuts (Note 2)

Topping (optional)

  • 1 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or other chocolate for melting
  • 1/2 cup ground toasted hazelnuts

Instructions

  • Heat oven to 325F/163C. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • MAKE DOUGH: With an electric mixer, beat butter. Add icing sugar, salt and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Gradually add flour a bit at a time, beating in until well incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the dough from the sides of bowl. Stir in ground hazelnuts. Chill dough in fridge for 30 minutes or more.
  • FORM COOKIES: Use your hands to make small balls (36-44) with the dough (about 1-1 1/2 inches/2.5-3.8 cm diameter) and place them on the lined cookie sheet. Use bottom of small glass to lightly flatten each ball to about 1/3 inch0.85 cm thick. Dip glass bottom in flour periodically to avoid glass sticking to dough. (Alternatively, use tines of fork to flatten in criss-cross pattern).
  • BAKE: Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes until bottom of cookies are light golden brown. Tops remain fairly pale. Cool on racks. Note 2.
  • ADD CHOCOLATE/NUT TOPPING (OPTIONAL): If desired, melt chocolate chips in glass pyrex measuring cup or bowl in microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. You will have to do this about 3 times. The last few pieces will melt on their own when you stir until creamy smooth. Use a knife to spread chocolate on half the top of each cookie. Sprinkle with ground hazelnuts. Instead of chocolate and nuts, you can dust cookies lightly with icing sugar.

Recipe Notes

  1. To make your own ground toasted hazelnuts: Heat oven to 350F/177C. Place about 2 cups/230 grams hazelnuts on lined baking pan. Roast for 10-15 minutes until fragrant. They will darken a shade. Don’t let them burn. Let cool enough to handle. Over the pan, take a handful at a time and rub between two hands – skins will flake off. Alternatively, place in towel and rub together. Repeat with all hazelnuts. Don’t worry if a bit of skin remains but try to get most off as skins can be bitter. Put in food processor and process until finely ground. Or place in a zipper lock bag and crush with the bottom of a pot or glass.
  2. Variations:
    • Substitute toasted walnuts, pecans or macadamia nuts for the hazelnuts if you can’t find them.
    • For the chocolate smear, use dark chocolate, semisweet or milk chocolate chips. Or you can use chunks of a chopped chocolate bar and melt it.
    • You can skip the chocolate smear and nut topping and just dust the plain hazelnut cookies with powdered sugar. 
  3. Make ahead/freeze: These cookies will keep at room temperature in a sealed container for about a week. They can be made frozen (up to 6 months), when cooled completely, in a sealed container. If you want to store them in a sealed ziploc bag, you can store them plain (to prevent the chocolate from smearing), then add the chocolate and nuts (if desired) the day of or day before serving.
 
Nutrition values are estimates

Nutrition

Calories: 150kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 16mg | Sodium: 52mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 181IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg
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This recipe is inspired from An Italian In My Kitchen.

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