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Hazelnut Shortbread with Salted Ganache Sandwich Cookies
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Hazelnut Shortbread with Salted Ganache Sandwich Cookies

This cookie is tender and decadent with just the right amount of salt. The texture is somewhere between crisp and crumbly yet sturdy enough to hold up to the creamy, rich ganache - it's dark and mildly sweet.  Delicious anytime of year, but makes a delightful gift especially during the holidays. NOTE: Prep time above is an estimate based on my experience making these cookies. This time can vary widely depending on baker experience. {Please read updated notes in the notes section.} 
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Rest Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 32 Sandwich Cookies
Calories 175kcal
Author Traci York | Vanilla And Bean

Ingredients

For the Cookies:

For the Ganache:

  • 1 1/2 C Bittersweet Chocolate, at least 70% cacao, chopped into small pieces, 216g
  • 3/4 C Heavy Cream 160g
  • Fleur de Sel for sprinkling

Instructions

For the Cookies:

  • In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, to the bowl add butter, sugar, sea salt and vanilla bean paste. Beat 3 minutes on medium speed until ingredients come together and are creamy and smooth. Add the all purpose flour and hazelnut flour. Pulse in, then turn to medium speed until the dough starts to come together and form somewhat of a ball on the paddle. This takes about one and a half to two minutes. The dough will be sticky. 
  • Dump dough onto plastic wrap and form into a disk about 1/2" (1.3cm) thick.  Wrap with the plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least two hours. At this point the dough can be frozen for at least two months. Double wrap and label the dough. To defrost, place in fridge overnight.
  • Remove from refrigerator and let the dough sit for about five to 10 minutes. This will bring the temperature up a bit and make it easier to work with. Sprinkle the work surface, rolling pin and top of dough with flour, and beat the dough several times with the rolling pin. This conditions the dough and readies it for rolling. Sprinkle with flour again, on top and underneath the dough, then begin rolling into a rough circle to a little over 1/4" (0.6cm) thick. Reflour the work surface, pin and dough as needed. These cookies are a bit sticky. It's important to keep the dough at the same thickness (1/4") throughout so that the cookies each bake evenly. This dough can be rolled between parchment paper if desired. I choose not to do this because, for me, the parchment simply gets in the way. 
  • Line a sheet-pan with parchment paper. Dip the cookie cutter in flour and begin cutting out the cookies. I used a 1 1/2" (3.8cm) fluted round cutter like these. Transfer the cookies to the sheet-pan using an offset spatula. Gather the scraps, kneading and working the dough to make another disk, reroll and cut. You'll probably need to pop the dough back in the fridge for rerolling if your kitchen is warm. The cooler the dough, the cleaner the cut. Do this until all the dough has been used. There's no need to worry about over working the dough.
  • Place the cookies in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes prior to baking. Do not skip this step or the cookies will spread. Preheat the oven to 325F (180C) (due to a few comments I've received on this recipe about the cookies spreading, I've retested this recipe using varying oven temperatures - and the same, 325F - see note about baking temperatures.  An oven thermometer is helpful in making sure the oven is at the proper temperature, and seems essential with this recipe). Place baking rack in center of the oven. Now is a good time to make the ganache (see below).
  • Bake cookies for 25-26 minutes or until golden, rotating the pan 1/2 way through the bake time. Start checking on the cookies at about 22 minutes due to oven variations. They'll be darker on the bottom than the top and still slightly soft in the center (they'll firm up as they cool). Remove from oven and using an offset spatula, carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely before making the sandwich cookies.

For the Ganache:

  • Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Meanwhile heat the cream on medium heat just until bubbles appear around the edges of the cream. Pour the cream over the chocolate. Allow it to set for two minutes without stirring. Use a spatula to gently start folding and slowly stirring the chocolate until all the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Place plastic wrap right on the surface of the ganache so that a skin doesn't form. Allow to set at room temperature to thicken for at least an hour.
  • Check the ganache to see it has thickened. It shouldn't be runny, but should be thick enough to pipe, like the consistency of very soft butter. If not, place it in the microwave for no more than 5 seconds. Stir well. Place #18 open star pastry tip in a pastry bag and fill with ganache. Alternatively, fill a plastic zip bag with ganache, forcing it into one corner and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe the ganache just inside the edge of a cookie in a circular motion moving from the edge to the center. Sprinkle a few flakes of Fleur du Sel over the ganache and top it with another cookie.
  • Store in a covered container for up to one week. If making the cookies without the ganache, the cookies can be stored for up to two weeks.

Notes

UPDATE: Due to a few comments I've received in the comments section, I've retested this recipe, baking at three different temperatures (325F - 25 min, 350F - 15 min, 375F 10 min).  I continue to get the cleanest edges, golden color, no spreading and crispiest cookies at 325F for 25 minutes (the low temp and long bake time gets the cookies nice and dry - this is what I'm after in shortbread). 
A few important tips for success: 1. An external oven thermometer will ensure the oven is at the proper temperature. You'd be surprised at how widely ovens vary in their inaccurate calibration. For example, I have to set my oven to 335F to get it to 325F. It makes a difference. 2. Cut the dough cold. A clean cut means a cleaner edged cookie. Depending on the temperature of your kitchen, this may mean placing the dough back in the refrigerator after rolling or prior to cutting. 3. Be sure to chill the dough for at least 20 minutes prior to baking. 4. Thickness of the cookie matters. Use a ruler to measure the thickness - you want it just over, but not less then 1/4" .  
Inspired by The Grand Central Bakery

Nutrition

Calories: 175kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 23mg | Sodium: 40mg | Potassium: 58mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 263IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg