Hazelnut shortbread

by Eddy Van Damme on August 31, 2010

For certain events a professional pastry chef is often faced with having to prepare bite size cookies which are attractive looking and at the same time delicious. Shortbread is usually a good candidate for such instance since they have an undeniable elegance about them.

The shortbread featured here is in many places in the world called a petit four sec.  Dipping the shortbread in crystallized chocolate is optional but it is something I prefer to do since it elevates something which is rather simple to something exceptional.

Getting it all together!

Unbaked shortbread freezes very well and thus can easily be made in advance. Once baked it is best the day it is made. However, when well packaged it does last several days.  You can certainly dip the entire shortbread in chocolate and thus extending the shelf life even further.

Hazelnut shortbread

Note: Protein or gluten content varies in flour, even within a specific type and thus has an effect on the final texture. Since shortbread is all about the texture it may be necessary to slightly adjust the amount of flour and or replace part of the flour with corn starch.

Yield: 40

8 oz (8 oz) Unsalted butter, soft 240 g
7/8 cup (3.5 oz) Powdered sugar 105 g
½ teaspoon ( ½ tsp) Salt 2.5 g
1 teaspoon (1tsp) Vanilla extract 5 ml
¾ Cup (3 oz) Hazelnut flour, toasted 90 g
1 + ¾ Cup (8 oz) Pastry flour 240 g
  1. Mix the butter and powdered sugar until well blended but not creamed.
  2. Add salt, vanilla and vanilla extract. Mix in the toasted hazelnut flour.
  3. Add flour and mix until just combined. Place in a refrigerator until cold enough to be rolled.
  4. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
  5. Bake at 350°F (180°C) until light golden brown, about 14 minutes.
  6. When cool dip into crystallized or tempered chocolate.

Thank you for visiting my Pastry blog!

25 comments on “Hazelnut shortbread

  1. Eddy these look lovely! I’m not sure that I can buy pastry flour here, is there a substitute? Would High grade flour work? High grade flour is what I would normally choose for breads and pastries here.

  2. Hilary Adams on said:

    Mmmm! These look good! Can’t wait to make them!

    Reading Lisa’s comment, wouldn’t All-Purpose be the closest flour in similarity gluten-content-wise, Chef Eddy? If I’m wrong, please let me know. If a flour substitution were made to something like all-purpose flour, would the change between the two (if you had one of each there to try) be very noticeable?

    Thanks, Chef!

  3. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    High grade flour may be a little too high in gluten, you can always replace 20% of the flour with corn starch or rice flour. In many of my shortbread i use rice flour for an amazing texture.

  4. Diana Wallace on said:

    These look amazing! Great job!

  5. Oh wonderful! I love shortbread and these cookies look so delicious! I am definitely going to give this recipe a shot.

    I also read your entries on tempering chocolate, something I’ve always been intimidated by, but I want to get over my fear and plunge into doing it, so I can not only conquer that fear but hopefully work toward mastering this skill. I’ll follow your advice and tips on that process, too!

  6. I also have a question about using hazelnut flour. I will try the cookies with this nut flour as soon as I purchase a supply of it, but can other nut flours be used, too? I’ve got a large supply of almond flour in my refrigerator that I usually make financiers with.

  7. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    You can use other types of nut flours in this recipe but adjustments may have to be made to obtain the right texture. Using the same amount of almond flour as toasted hazelnut flour will make a more dense and less fragile shortbread.

  8. Darienne on said:

    Ah, you really have my attention with this recipe. And I do love cookies dipped in chocolate. I don’t know if I can find hazelnut flour in this part of the world, but I shall try.

  9. Well I have rice flour and I also have cornstarch, I might do a couple of small batches to see what works best – thanks 🙂

  10. philippe richard on said:

    always simple but amazing pastries and the pictures look great.

  11. Très merveilleux.

  12. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Thank you!

  13. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Thank you for your kind comment!

  14. I ate this product in the studio before… Now I am learning something from you… . All I have to do is follow what you do and I will be fine… Thank you Chef Eddy…

  15. hector rey on said:

    Tank you chef Eddy Vendamme . Hector Rey .

  16. Another lovely recipe, anything with hazlenut in is awesome. I dont know if your have tried but macaroons made with ground hazlenuts instead of almonds are pretty special! Have been doing them as a petit four, give it a go. Your students are very lucky to have such a great teacher!

  17. Kris Schoofs on said:

    Hi Eddy,

    I was unable to find hazelnut flour (I also believe there’s a difference between hazelnut powder and hazelnut flour, I think flour is more greasy) but I still decided to give it a go. So, I roasted my blanced hazelfnuts in the oven and then used the food processor to get a very smooth greasy mass (not sure how much this resembles actual hazelnut flour) and used that for the recipe.

    The end result tasted great, but didn’t look that nice. I was having problems with keeping a proper shape for the cookies, it was already tricky cutting them and keeping their shape prior to putting them in the oven, but once baking they lost even more of their shape.

    Do you perhaps have any suggestions on how to deal with the hazelnut flour? Is this something you can make yourself? Is there a difference between hazelnut powder and hazelnut flour? – Thanks.

  18. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Kris,
    Uggg, sorry it did not work out. If you cannot find pure hazelnut flour (not the one which is 50% hazelnuts and 50% sugar often found in European markets) you can make it at home this way: Instead of 90 g of hazelnut flour use 90 gr of hazelnuts. Toast them and allow to cool. Take the 240 g flour which is in the recipe (do not use extra flour) + the cooled toasted hazelnuts and place in a food processor and grind to a fine powder. (the flour will prevent the nuts becoming greasy-which happened to you). Make the cookies as described. It will work for you this way.
    Grinding most nuts in a food processor will turn it into a paste which for many recipes will not work. The hazelnut flour should absorb some moisture from the other ingredients, but when it is a paste it cannot perform this function. The shape of the cookies was lost due to the oilyness etc.
    If this explanation is unclear just send me a note,
    All the best!

  19. Kris Schoofs on said:

    Hi Eddy,

    Thanks for getting back to me regarding the hazelnut flour. It’s also great to hear that it’s possible to make your own hazelnut flour because I was also looking at your ‘Flour free chocolade cake’ recipe (with the awesome brilliant finish) which also uses this flour.

    Making the hazelnut flour this way was definitely better but eventually I was still struggling to get cookies that properly kept their shape.

    The first time using the new flour recipe, I made the mistake of putting them too close together. Once they started baking they expanded quite much and bumped into eachother. But this actually turned out to be a good thing because this prevented them from expanding too much and turning into too thin cookies. After baking, I did had to slightly cut them to get separate cookies again.

    Here’s a picture:

    Just now, I had another go at it and now arranged them widely spaced before baking. This produced poorer results since it allowed the cookies to expand too much. The dough that was originally cut into 4×3 cm pieces was turned into rougly 5×5.5 cm cookies with rounded sides (yours are still nice rectangles after baking) and which were actually too thin. I really would have liked them to stay as thick and shaped as I initally cut them.

    So, great tasting cookies, but I’m unable to get them to look exactly like yours, i.e. cookies that keep their thickness with straight sides. Wondering if more flour would improve their stability?

    I’m also wondering when someone says ‘bake at 180°C’ they actually mean baking them with or without air circulation? Baking with air circulation has a more equal heat distribution throughout the oven and bakes much faster, but I’m not sure if this would have made any difference for the end result.

  20. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Kris,
    Your cookies look great! The slight spreading can be a hazelnut flour issue. If it bothers you, simply add about 10-20% more hazelnut flour and you will be fine. Making any nut flour at home is always just a little different compared to what you purchase. Now, regular flour (Patisserie bloem) does have different protein levels. (The levels vary by manufacturer-at least they do in the U.S.) Higher protein levels will absorb more moisture and create firmer products. So using a touch more patisserrie bloem will also help. BUT…using too much and you end up with something that will not melt in the mouth….

  21. Kris Schoofs on said:

    Hi Eddy,

    I increased the amount of home-made hazelnut flour with almost 20% and everything, both taste/texture and aesthetics, worked out just great this time.



  22. Szu wang on said:

    It looks great.One more thing for my guest next time.

  23. These cookies look amazing! I love the flavor of hazelnut and chocolate together. I am definitely trying out this recipe. I have to admit, I had never tasted a shortbread cookie until we made them in your class and I have to say, they were incredibly delicious. I could not stop eating them, they were like potato chips, you can’t just have one. Since then, I’ve been addicted to shortbread cookies. Thanks Chef!

  24. Niyah Richardson on said:

    This particualar dough had a familiar taste. I’m nit a huge fan of hazelnut at all, but I liked this one dipped in the dark chocolate instead of the milk chocolate. It just made the taste stand out a whole lot more. Great recipe Chef!

  25. Wickedly Whisked on said:

    It came out perfect! The taste of hazelnut is amazing. I tried the same with Almond flour (minor changes to the quantities though) but couldn’t get the taste of almond flour as much, tasted almost like a good plain cookie.

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