Monday, February 1, 2016

Coffee Hazelnut Crescent Cookies (Chifferi)

It was Italian month in December so we made Italian cookies for our Christmas cookie exchange, and this was the pick of the litter.

Coffee Hazelnut Chifferi
(adapted from Fine Cooking, Dec 2015 - Domenica Marchetti)

Makes 48 cookies

1 cup whole hazelnuts, toasted skins removed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 T. instant espresso powder
1/4 t. table salt
8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces and slightly softened
9 oz. (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup superfine sugar
1/2 t. ground cinnamon

Toast the nuts and remove the skins by wrapping the hot nuts in a clean towel and let sit for 1 minute. Roll the towel back and forth vigorously to remove the skins.  Not all the skins will come off, which is fine.  Discard the skins and let the nuts cool.

Pulse the nuts and granulated sugar in a food processor until the nuts are coarsely ground.  Add the espresso powder and salt, and process until the nuts are very finely ground, but not pasty.

Scatter the butter around the bowl and pulse until it becomes a smooth mixture.  Sprinkle in the flour and pulse just until incorporated.  The dough will be very soft.

Scrape the dough onto a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap, form it into a disk, wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the superfine sugar and cinnamon.

Divide the dough into quarters.  Divide each quarter into 12 equal parts.  Roll each piece of dough into a ball and then roll each ball between your palms to make a cylinder about 3 inches long, with tapered ends.  Bend the cylinders to form crescents and place them, 1 inch apart, on ungreased baking sheets.

Bake the crescents, 1 sheet at a time, until set and just beginning to brown around the edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes. With an offset metal spatula lift each cookie.  Very gently dip each cookie in the bowl of cinnamon sugar, taking care to coat it on all sides.

Set the coated cookies on racks to cool completely.

Store the crescents in an airtight container in layers between sheets of waxed paper for up to 2 weeks.


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