Maple Caramel Hazelnut Sandwich Cookies
Makes about 32 sandwich cookies.
Note: Maple syrup and hazelnuts are a flavorful match made in heaven. The maple caramel has plenty of uses on its own, including warmed as a topping for ice cream. From Susan Dietrich Hassler.
• 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. maple syrup
• 1 c. cream
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 3/4 tsp. lemon or lime juice
Hazelnut shortbread cookies:
• 1 1/4 cup hazelnuts with skins (unblanched)
• 3/4 cup butter, softened
• 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar
• 1 1/4 c. flour
To prepare maple caramel: Combine maple syrup, cream, lemon or lime juice and salt in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and boil gently — but do not mix or disturb —until it is reduced by half, or registers 230 degrees on a candy thermometer. Scrape sides gently and set aside to cool undisturbed.
To prepare cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes, until fragrant. After they've cooled, finally chop and set aside. (If you don't like the skins, before chopping wrap cooled hazelnuts in a dish towel and rub the skins off.)
Cream butter and sugar together. Add the flour and blend well. Fold nuts into the dough. Alternatively, place the butter, sugar, flour and whole toasted hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until it barely forms a smooth ball.
Halve the dough and shape into 2 dough balls, flatten and refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Bring dough to a workable temperature and on a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of a little less than 1/8 inch. Cut into 1 1/2-inch circles, or the shape of your choice.
Bake on ungreased baking sheet for 15 minutes or until cookies are pale golden.
Let cookies cool. Smear a cookie with maple caramel and then top with another cookie.
Makes about 8 waffles.
Note: What better way to use your very own homemade maple syrup? Yeasted waffles arrived in America via the Pilgrims, who discovered them while on a brief stop in Holland. Adding maple syrup was so obvious, I guess, that history didn't record the event. This recipe, adapted from an old "Fanny Farmer" cookbook by Marion Cunningham, must be made the night before. From Susan Dietrich Hassler.
• 1/2 c. warm water
• 1 pkg. of active dry yeast
• 2 c. milk
• 1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter
• 2 c. flour
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1/4 tsp. baking soda
• Maple syrup, for topping
Measure 1/2 cup warm water and sprinkle dry yeast over it. Let stand for 5 minutes away from a draft.
Pour milk into a saucepan, add butter and heat gently, just until warm and the butter is melted. Remove from heat and mix well.
In a large mixing bowl (allow room for expanding batter) mix together flour, salt and sugar. Add the milk-butter mixture and yeast mixture and whisk together until smooth and lumps are gone, but don't overmix.
Cover the bowl and let stand overnight, away from a draft.
When ready to make the next morning, add eggs and baking soda and mix well (the batter will be a bit thin).
Pour about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of batter on preheated waffle iron. Remove when golden and crisp and top with maple syrup.