When the Hazelnut Praline Cookies were out of the oven and cooled, I tasted them right away. I hoped that the crispy candy would create a crackly texture, but there was only a slight crunch. I couldn’t help thinking that I goofed up or overlooked a detail. If I were to do it again, I would make extra sure that the hazelnuts were super dry right to the core before I pour the hot sugar over them, and I would be more patient with the caramel to ensure it isn’t just cool to the touch, but cool through and through. Still, I really loved this recipe and should remake it, if not just to get the praline as crispy and dry as possible, but to explore the effect that a hard crunchy praline would have on the cookie itself. After all, cookies are my business!
REMOVE THE HAZELNUT SKINS
- I’ve removed the skins from hazelnuts many times before, but never in a hot baking soda/water solution. Many of the skins fell off, and many of them I had to squeeze off. It reminded me of taking the skin off chick peas (well worth the effort, BTW). I was expecting the taste to change, but it didn’t really. Interesting process.
TOAST THE HAZELNUTS
- I thought I dried the hazelnuts as best as possible without over browning them because I was anticipating making a crunchy powder with them, and didn’t want the finished product to be gummy, but it was anyway.
Toasting skinned hazelnuts.
MAKE THE PRALINE POWDER
- The sugar seemed to caramelize successfully, but I worried the amount of the sugar wouldn’t be enough to cover the hazelnuts. It wasn’t. As you can see in the picture, the sugar didn’t engage all of the nuts, and hardened exactly where it fell. I had my doubts if this was correct.
The toasted hazelnuts with hot sugar. Making praline.
- I put the candied nuts in the food processor and whizzed it up. It made quite a racket (I secretly hoped it would kill my food processor). It reduced to a powder, but wasn’t very crunchy in the powder form. Did I over process it, creating too much heat? It was a bit sticky, and seemed to still have some moisture in it. I wasn’t sure if the sugar had cooled enough or maybe the nuts weren’t dry enough. I felt uncertain if it turned out correctly.
The finished praline powder.
MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH
- There was an oily sheen to the cookie dough. I put it in the refrigerator anyway.
Cookie dough with an oily sheen.
ROLL THE DOUGH INTO BALLS
- I weighed each piece of dough before forming them, a technique that I’ve grown to appreciate.
Hazelnut cookies before baking.
BAKING THE COOKIES
- The oily sheen remained on the baked and cooled cookies. Still the flavour was nice, but I suspect that the praline could have been crunchier.