Sometimes I wonder how some types of baking get so damned popular.
For example: cupcakes (they even have a cupcake competition show on Food Network now — how weird is that?) are super trendy, and so is organic baking (and organic everything), “low-carb” baking (how does that even work?), and vegan baking.
Ugh, vegan baking — don’t even get me started.
It seems really weird that people go vegan “for their health” and then eat dairy and meat replacement foods that are heavily processed and full of strange chemical binders and created through wholly unnatural means of production.
Hey, people can do what they want — but that doesn’t mean I get it, y’know?
Anyways, as a vegetarian, I can do the vegan thing — when there’s a good reason.
In this case, I’d definitely say that while vegan nature of these cookies is kinda coincidental, it’s also got some kinda awesome purpose.
For example: I’ve used shortening instead of butter to give the cookies better structure (shortening doesn’t sink or spread in the oven like butter does) and I’ve skipped out on using egg as a binder to give these cookies a good, crumbly texture.
See? I can do the vegan thing. You can do it, too!
Bitter-Sweet Cocoa Hazelnut Bites
*original recipe by Christine
- 1/2 cup golden shortening
- 1 cup finely ground hazelnuts
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2/3 cup super-fine sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons water
- white chocolate or fruit preserves, for filling
Preheat the oven to 350°F (or 175°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Toast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes, or until their skins go dark and split. Rub them with your fingers or a dry dish towel to remove the skins as best you can.
Grind the skinned hazelnuts (make sure you have 1 cup) and whisk them together with the flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
Cream the shortening and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract and water.
Gently fold the flour and hazelnut mixture into the shortening mixture. Mix until just incorporated.
Pinch of bits of the dough and roll into balls approximately 1 inch (2 cm in diameter). Press down onto the cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
Press white chocolate into the batter balls, flattening the cookies to the shape you’d like them to be after they come out of the oven (shortening doesn’t really let cookies “spread” like butter does during baking).
If using fruit preserves, flatten the cookies, make a small indent in the top with your thumb, and fill.
Bake for 14 ~ 16 minutes, rotating the baking sheet half-way through the baking time. Makes about 20 small cookies.
Once done, allow to cool completely before removing the cookies from the baking sheet — these cookies are very crumbly and soft when they’re hot, so if you move them prematurely they might fall apart a little.
Enjoy these cocoa hazelnut bites with strong coffee, since the rich, bitter notes in your brew go perfectly with the serious bitter-sweet edge of cocoa these little cookies pack! Yum!