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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hazelnut-Lemon Curd Kisses

Every year I eagerly await my December Cook's Country because it has the winner and several runners-up of their annual Christmas cookie contest. And I always find several winners of my own in there. Recipes from the contest are practically a sure thing - special, unusual, festive, delicious and always turn out as they should. This year I was a bit surprised by the winner - "Hazelnut-Lemon Curd Kisses." I thought, They're just thumbprints. What could be so special?

Which is of course why I had to try them - to find out for myself. And they are lovely, truly lovely, and seriously delicious. I think it's the toasted hazelnuts that make them stand out. We all know hazelnut is a flavor to cherish with chocolate, but it is special, homey and rich enough to stand on its own, and certainly pairs amazingly with sweet-tart lemon curd (you can use homemade or store bought.) So go ahead and whip up a batch. But you might want to double it. Two dozen just doesn't seem to be enough.

Hazelnut-Lemon Curd Kisses

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup hazelnuts , toasted

Pinch salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter , softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup lemon curd
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

1. MAKE DOUGH Adjust oven racks to upper- and low-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Process flour , hazelnuts, and salt in food processor until finely ground. With electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolk and vanilla and mix until incorporated. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture, ad mix until just combined.

2. SHAPE COOKIES Roll 1 tablespoon dough into 1-inch ball and place balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Using greased teaspoon measure, make indentation in center of each ball. Bake until just set, about 10 minutes.

3. FILL COOKIES Remove cookies from oven and gently reinforce existing indentation with teaspoon measure. Fill each dimple with 1/2 teaspoon lemon curd. Bake, rotating and switching sheets, until cookies are just beginning to brown around edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar. (Cookies can be stored in airtight container at room temperature for 2 days.)

Recipe from Cook's Country, December 2010

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