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Chocolate candied hazelnuts make the perfect edible holiday gift!
This is the time of year I’m looking for things to make for snacking. For gifts. To impress at holiday parties. Cookies are always a hit, but everyone makes cookies.
So this year, I’m trying to make things that are a little more decadent than cookies, but still tasty and unfussy. First up — these chocolate candied hazelnuts.
I love nuts in any application, but especially sweets. I thought about using pecans (my fave!) or macadamia nuts because they’re luxurious. But then I spied some hazelnuts sitting on the shelf at the grocery store, and that’s it. Hazelnuts have a unique flavor, they pair amazingly well with chocolate, and everyone loves them — Nutella, anyone?
These require a bit of patience, a candy thermometer (unless you’re an expert at eyeballing hot sugar — I am not), and a bit of holiday cheer.
They take a bit of time, but some of it is inactive time, so plan ahead a bit. These aren’t something you whip up before you’re headed out the door. You need to make sure you follow each step completely before moving on. There are several steps and all are important.
First, you’ll want to remove the skin for your hazelnuts. That sounds daunting, I know, but it’s pretty easy with a hot oven and kitchen towel. You’ll roast the hazelnuts for about 10 minutes, transfer to a clean towel and then rub them together. This not only removes the skin, but also gives them a nice toasty flavor.
Then comes the caramel part. You’ll cook the hazelnuts in a pan with sugar and a little butter, until you’ve reached 290 degrees. It is slow (took me about 30 minutes) and you’ll be tempted to increase the heat to speed it up, but don’t. Just let it get there when it gets there.
Once that has happened, you’ll transfer to a sheet pan, break up and let cool, then freeze. This will make it much easier to coat the hazelnuts in melted chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, this is when you want the good stuff, so don’t skimp.
Once you’ve enrobed your hazelnuts in chocolate, sprinkle a bit of coarse sea salt overtop. Yes, I know you’ve already added salt to the caramel, but the sea salt is crunchy, and brings out the chocolate flavor even more.
You can put these in a nice tin, add them to a cookie tray, or serve them in a fancy dish for a holiday party. Either way, everyone will love them.
Salted Chocolate Covered Caramelized Hazelnuts
These chocolate covered candied hazelnuts are perfect for gifting, celebrating, any everything in between.
Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.
While they’re in the oven, get a clean towel and lay it on the counter.
Remove the hazelnuts and let cool for a minute or two. Transfer to the towel and rub the hazelnuts together until skins are removed. You may have to do this in batches.
Remove the hazelnuts — it’s okay if there are some with a bit of skin left — and transfer to a saucepan.
Add both sugars, water, butter, and salt. Turn the heat to medium low and let the sugar melt. Stir the hazelnuts by pushing them inward toward the center with a spatula. Attach your candy thermometer if using.
While the hazelnuts are cooking, grab a sheet pan and line with parchment.
Let the hazelnuts cook over low heat until the thermometer reaches 290 degrees. If the sugar looks granulated, turn the heat off and add a tablespoon of water and stir.
When you’ve reached 290 degrees, turn off heat and stir in the vanilla.
Pour the hazelnuts on the sheet pan, spreading them out as much as you can.
Let them cool completely, and break up any that still remain together.
Transfer these to a clean parchment lined sheet pan and pop in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds until smooth.
Remove the hazelnuts from the freezer. Drizzle with the melted chocolate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt.