These cookies were born out of my desire to build a repertoire of Hanukkah cookies in a Christmas cookie world! I mean I obviously love a Christmas cookie but I also love a Hanukkah dessert that a) doesn’t require me to fry anything and, b) can allow me to pull out all of the sprinkles and decorate stuff. A few years ago, I learned the joys of making homemade gelt. It’s so simple yet fun! You just melt blobs of chocolate and add any toppings you want. And you can control your own currency and game the dreidel system so that whatever happens, you’re rich! (Oh, your gelt is topped with sunflower seeds? Well mine is way more valuable since it’s topped with sea salt. Therefore I win.) So this year I decided to up the ante and put this gelt right on top of a cookie. Gelt on cookies is nothing new, but homemade gelt on a thick soft hazelnut cookie is a thing of modern beauty! You could obviously schmear melted chocolate on any kind of cut out cookie but I’ve used these hazelnutty orange zesty pucks here because they’ve got more personality than your standard holiday sugar cookie. The result is a combination of textures (soft cookie + snappy chocolate) and flavors (hazelnut + chocolate + orange) that is worthy of a prime spot in your Hanukkah cookie box.
So have at it and let your creativity run wild! Make some for your Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge viewing party*!!!
*Your daily reminder that the Ultimate Hanukkah Challenge is a show that exists and it is premiering on December 21st at 9pm/8c on Food Network.
Hazelnut Gelt Cookies
makes about 26 cookies
for the cookies:
3 1/2 c (448g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/3 c (150g) ground toasted hazelnuts (you can make your own or buy hazelnut flour, bob’s red mill sells it!)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 c (226g) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 c (137g) granulated sugar
2/3 c (80g) powdered sugar
Zest of 1 orange
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
for the topping:
6 oz (168g) chopped milk chocolate or milk chocolate chips
to make the cookies, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, ground hazelnuts, baking powder, and salt and set aside. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, cream together the butter, sugars, and orange zest on medium high until pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each, and then add the vanilla.
reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until blended. at this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, or up to two days, or you can get going on rolling out your dough and cutting out your cookies immediately.
when ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºf. line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside. working with half of the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to a thickness that’s just under 1/2” thick. cut out 2 1/2” circles with a biscuit cutter and then transfer to a baking sheet, 1" apart. re-roll scraps and cut out more shapes. bake until they’re lightly browned on the bottom; begin checking for doneness at 12 minutes. let cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes and then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate, melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in a microwavable bowl in 30-second increments, stirring after each. Melt until it’s just smooth and then remove from heat. Spoon a teaspoon of chocolate onto the top of each cookie, and spread it around with a spoon into a little Gelt-sized circle. Top with sprinkles and let set in the fridge or at room temperature. Enjoy!
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photos by chantell and brett quernemoen