Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

Sorry for the Thanksgiving interlude in my Christmas cookie recipes.  That post has been bugging me . . . "Why haven't you posted me yet?", "It's been over a month", "I'm waiting" etc.  But now back to Christmas cookies.

I love the combination of hazelnuts and chocolate.  I think I first had Nutella when I was twelve and my family was living in Germany while my father was on sabbatical.  If you don't know what Nutella is, first off I'm very sorry for you and you should maybe reconsider your priorities (unless you're, say, allergic to hazelnuts or chocolate or deliciousness).  Second, Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread that you can (and should) find at pretty much any grocery store.
If it were more socially acceptable, I would eat jars of it with a spoon.
Each year, I make some of the same cookies, like Russian Teacakes and I try some new ones.  When I saw hazelnuts at the store, I new I would have to try something that included that wonderful flavor combination.
 I picked these because I like anything that has a little extra touch, in this case chocolate sandwiched in between two chocolate hazelnut cookies.  Because the only way to improve chocolate-hazelnut is by adding more chocolate.
The microwave is an amazing invention.  Melting chocolate in a double boiler and hoping you don't burn it is fine, especially if you have a gorgeous copper double boiler and then you're just looking for things to double boil so you can use it.  But if you're in a rush because it's eleven at night and you really want to have the cookies finished so you can go to sleep, then having a microwave to melt chocolate in about a minute is pretty awesome.
My cookies stayed pretty round, but I think they would have made better sandwiches if they'd been flatter, so next time I may flatten the balls a little before I cook them.  Another tip is to let the melted chocolate cool a bit so it is a thicker, more spreadable consistency.  Mine was still really melty and sort of drizzled off the sides of the cookies.  But they were still totally delicious.

Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed
1 cup powdered sugar
1 stick plus 1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt
1 cup flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1. Grind the nuts with powdered sugar until powdery but not a paste.
2. Beat butter, lemon zest, salt, and nut mixture until creamy.
3. Add the flour and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Do not overwork the dough.
4. Roll level 1/2 tsps of dough into tiny balls and arrange 1-inch apart on 2 parchment paper lined baking sheets.
5. Bake one sheet at a time in a 350 degrees F oven until lightly crisped, about 12 minutes. Cool cookies on rack.
6. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate in the microwave.
7. Spoon a mound, about 1/8 teaspoon, of melted chocolate onto the flat side of a cookie then top with the flat side of another cookie.
8. Plain cookies can be baked and cooled 1 week ahead and kept at room temperature in an airtight container. Fill when ready to serve.

From The Food Network

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