A few weeks ago, I posted up an Instagram Contest and Giveaway for my dear Instagram friends. The plan was for them to come up with their idea of the ultimate cookies combination and the winner would get a batch baked specially for them.
One of the suggestions was from F’s younger sister, Naima. She came up with a cookie that had Nutella, Banana Mousse and Hazelnuts Sprinkled on top. This sounded really interesting, only there were two problems.
Banana Mousse within a Cookie may not be the most ideal as the mousse, especially in hot, humid Singapore, would melt in the heat. As a result, even making a sandwich cookie with banana mousse in the middle would not make it the most easy to transport and store unless constantly kept chilled.
Naima was still in Germany…
Until yesterday evening when she finally arrived on our currently not-so-sunny shores. So problem 2 was solved, but transforming problem 1 into something more workable made my brain whirr into motion. After quite a lot of going back and forth, I proposed two ideas to F.
Bake Banana Hazelnut Shortbread, and have Nutella mixed with toasted chopped Hazelnuts sandwiched in the middle.
Bake a Nutella-stuffed Banana Hazelnut Cookie, topped with a Banana Chip and sprinkled with Hazelnuts.
F chose the former. So this morning, after a night of intermittent half-dreams of baking these cookies, I got to work.
Now, after baking my Cor(n)orary Attack Cookies that required freeze-dried corn pulverised into powder, I started wanting to experiment with more freeze-dried fruit. In this case, bananas. I didn’t want a cookie that was more cakey and soft – which is what usually happens when you use banana puree in a cookie batter.
Instead, I blended up some freeze-dried bananas to make a powder, and added that to my dry ingredients for the shortbread. It didn’t turn out quite like typical shortbread so perhaps the next time I might add more flour or hazelnut meal to create more structure. I was still happy with the end product as it yielded a more delicate cookie that I think worked better as a sandwich cookie since they were less heavy and chunky to the bite.
What was nice about these cookies was the fruity banana flavour that was complemented by the toasted ground hazelnuts. The light crisp of the cookie, upon being eaten, gives way to the crunch of chopped hazelnuts embedded within the creamy richness of Nutella that leaves you wanting more. Nutella, after all, is love!
Anyway, on to the recipe!
Yields 18 Sandwich Cookies
Banana Hazelnut Cookies:
230g unsalted butter, softened
140g caster sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
185g plain flour
70g ground freeze-dried bananas
45g toasted hazelnut meal*
75g toasted hazelnuts, chopped as finely or as roughly as you like
1. Sieve flour and mix together with ground freeze-dried bananas and hazelnut meal. Set aside.
2. Cream butter with sugar and sea salt unti light and fluffy.
3. Add dry ingredients into butter mixture and mix just until the dough comes together. Add another 45g of hazelnut meal if mixture looks too soft.
4. Roll mixture out between two baking sheets to a thickness of 0.6cm and chill for an hour.
5. Use a cookie cutter and cut dough. Place cut cookies onto a lined baking tray and chill for another 20min.
6. In the meantime, preheat oven to 175 deg C and make filling simply by folding chopped hazelnuts into the Nutella.
7. Bake cookies for 14min turning the tray around at the halfway point.
8. Let cool on tray for 10min before removing cookies onto a cooling rack to finish cooking.
9. Fill piping bag with chopped hazelnut Nutella mixture and pipe on half the cookies, topping them with the remaining cookies.
10. Eat and enjoy!!!
*I made the hazelnut meal from scratch and I cannot tell you how much more amazing ground toasted hazelnuts taste compared to store bought ones! Simply toast them in the oven for 10-12min at 175 deg C, let cool, and blitz away!