Hazelnut Kisses

Christmas cookies and childhood memories.

Like every year, it starts with a list. What christmas cookies are we going to bake? The choice is tough: family classics, personal favorites and something new to try out have all to make it to the list. After browsing books for recipes, we settle for a handful of cookies to bake. And this year I smuggled in one of my personal favorites: hazelnut kisses! An easy recipe, passed down to me by my mum, a treasure, almost a heirloom. Enjoy!

I think everybody has a food that takes him back right to his childhood. For me it is these hazelnut kisses. Already while they are baking, their distinct scent fills the kitchen. Then I take a bite (there is always that one cookie that is certainly too ugly and needs to be eaten at the spot) and suddenly I am six years old again, baking christmas cookies with my mum in the kitchen. Good times!

Make sure not to overbake the kisses, they will firm up as they cool down anyways and dry, hard cookies are no fun. Although in the worst case, you can always smash them up into crumbles and use them for the base of a cheesecake. Pretty everything else about this recipe is easy.

Separating eggs is a task that leaves some of us frightened and I also don’t like to do it. But I use my “three bowls” technique for safe results:

  • one bowl over which you are working: If you break the egg yolk or something else happens, the accident goes straight in there.
  • one bowl for the yolks: use the yolks for “yolk-only cookies”, pasta dough or incorporate them in a cheesecake or other cake. Yolks are also great as a topping for ramen, stews or a bowl of plain rice. Shall you be doomed if you throw them away!
  • the last bowl is for the egg whites.

This way even if something happens, damage is minimal. If you are using a good kitchen mixer, they are usually strong enough to whisk the egg whites stiff, even if there is a little yolk in them, so you can try to rescue a broken egg by fishing out the yolk (already happened to us by the way…).

One more hint: put the dark chocolate in the freezer before you grate it. It will help not melting in your hand while you grate it and the cold chocolate will not jump as much around while you work. Grate over a large bowl to save your nerves and reduce dishwashing work!

Ingredients

  • 3 Egg whites
  • 200g Sugar
  • 250g Ground hazelnuts
  • 30g Ground dark chocolate
  • 2tsp Ground coffee beans
  • Whole hazelnuts for garnish
  • Vanilla extract, a pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 160°C. Line two baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Whisk the egg whites until very firm while slowly adding the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Add the salt and let whisk until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Meanwhile grate the chocolate on a medium fine box grater.
  4. When the egg whites are properly firm, add the ground hazelnuts, coffee beans and chocolate and gently mix until perfectly incorporated.
  5. Using a teaspoon, make rather small nuggets and place them on the parchment paper leaving a few centimeters between them.
  6. Put one whole hazelnut in the middle of each nugget.
  7. Bake the two trays in the oven for about 20-25 minutes. Switch the trays at half the time for an evenly baked result.

If you want to, you can use a piping bag to make even, pretty cookies, but I have piping-bag-o-phobia, so this is no choice for me and I like the rustic look of home made cookies.

No macros for the cookies, Christmas is no time for counting calories, even if Chantal is doing it 😉 .

This is a great basic recipe you can use as a template for further experimentation. Using other nuts or seeds instead of the hazelnut opens up endless room for customization. I would like to try a pistacchio version with a tiny hint of rose water instead of coffee and white chocolate instead of dark chocolate. You could certainly use coconut and it will be crowd pleaser, because who doesn’t like coconut? Feel free to experiment and let me know how it went for you!

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