These are the cookies you need to make when you're short on time and need a dessert or "a little something" to take to work to share with your co-workers. You can mix the cookies up in only a few minutes, and you press the dough into round pans--no dropping, rolling, or cutting. The cookies do take 30 minutes to bake, but you can do that while you attend to dinner or other things. The cookies are crisp, not-to-sweet, and deliciously nutty. If you'd rather use nuts other than hazelnuts, feel free. The cookies are wonderful with pecans or walnuts. Just leave out the hazelnut extract and substitute maple extract instead. The shortbread makes a great accompaniment to ice cream and is also good on a cheese board as a slightly sweet addition.
Brown Sugar Hazelnut Shortbread -- Makes 16
10 tablespoons of butter (1 stick plus 2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon of hazelnut extract
1 tablespoon of low-fat milk
1/2 cup of white whole wheat flour
1 cup of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt
3/4 cup of coarsely ground or chopped, toasted hazelnuts
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and coat two 8 or 9-inch round pie plates with non-stick cooking spray (I use tin foil pie plates, which makes for easier removal). In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add the vanilla and hazelnut extracts. Beat in the flours, salt, and hazelnuts. Divide the dough into two pieces and press each piece into one of the pie plates. Score the dough in each pie pan into 8 triangles and pierce the top of each triangle with a fork in a decorative pattern (or just pierce it however you want; it will be fine). Bake the shortbread for 20-30 minutes until it's lightly browned and firm. Let the shortbread cool in the pan for a few minutes before re-cutting it into wedges. Leave the shortbread in the pans to finish cooling before removing the pieces.