Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Yule Log Cookies (Recipe)

I have always wanted to participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie swap, but for whatever reason each year it comes and goes and I miss the boat.  This year, I was on the ball, I didn’t think about if I would have time or what I would make, I just signed up and went for it.  It was so much fun.  I got to make three packages of cookies to send off into the world (Texas, Texas and New York to be precise).  In turn, I got three packages of cookies.  I got delicious chocolate chip cookies from Donna Dang over at Dang That’s Delicious.  We’ve been indulging in some Chocolate Mint Truffle Snowballs from Lisa Johnson over at Cooking with Curls. And, we inhaled our Chocolate Chip Pinwheels from Meagan over at A Zesty Bite.

Spiced Yule Log cookies with little meringue mushrooms.
Spiced Yule Log cookies with little meringue mushrooms.

These pinwheel cookies are a spin on the classic pinwheel cookies.  The inspiration for this recipe came from The Brass Sisters’ recipe which they found among the recipes of Elizabeth Cockrey of Groton, MA and share inHeirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters: More than 100 Years of Recipes Discovered from Family Cookbooks, Original Journals, Scraps of Paper, and Grandmother’s Kitchen.  Instead of doing a chocolate layer swirled into a vanilla layer, I decided to do a think layer of spiced toasted hazelnuts and cocoa.  The slices of cookies look like little slices of a yule log.  They are not too sweet because that’s how I like my cookies and they go very well with a nice hot cup of coffee or cocoa.  For a sweeter version, cut the cookies slightly thinner and then sandwich a layer of Nutella or some dulce de leche in the middle to create a sandwich cookie.

Chocolate Hazelnut Spiced Yule Log Cookies

Makes 55-60 cookies or 30 sandwich cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar (I bake with my vanilla sugar.)
  • 2 additional TBSP of granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla (I used vanilla bean paste.)
  • 1 TBSP of Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 1/2 cup of whole hazelnuts
  • 2 tsp of Ras El Hanout for Coffee (You can also substitute cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, Chinese 5 spice, or whichever winter spices float your boat.)
  • If you are making sandwich cookies you will also need some dulce de leche or Nutella.

This dough needs to be chilled so do not pre-heat your oven yet.  In terms of timing and planning know that you will chill the dough for an hour before rolling it into a log, then the log will need at least an additional three hours to chill.  I prefer to make my dough the evening before so it has plenty of time to chill twice.  I allow the dough to chill once while I clean up from making the dough and then I let the dough chill again overnight.

To make the dough:

First, take a small pan (cast iron or stainless steel is fine) and add your 1/2 cup of whole hazelnuts to the pan (I also threw in a cinnamon stick for good measure but I don’t think it flavoured the nuts at all).  Lightly toast the nuts in the pan.  Don’t answer your phone or go check Facebook because the nuts will go from perfect to burnt in seconds flat.  Pour the toasted nuts onto a plate to cool.

If, like me, you forget to take your butter out to soften, soften the 2/3 cup of butter in the microwave (try not to melt it completely) in a glass bowl.  Then, add the 1 cup sugar, creaming the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  You can do this by hand with a fork or in a mixer if you prefer. Lately, I’ve been in the mood to just mix by hand with a fork.

In a separate bowl add the 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. Kosher salt.  If you like to use a sifter this is the place to sift.  I prefer to just take a whisk and mix my dry ingredients that way.

Once the nuts have cooled, buzz them in a food processor until you have finely ground nuts.  Put the ground nuts into a bowl and add the 1 TBSP of cocoa, 2 tsp of Ras El Hanout for Coffee (or other spices of your choice) and 2 TBSP of sugar. Mix it all up until you have a uniform powder.

Now, take your sugar and butter mixture and slowly add your flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.  Divide your dough into two equal parts.  Wrap one part in plastic wrap then shape and flatten to make a rectangle.  With the other 1/2 of the dough add 1/3 of your cocoa and hazelnut mixture to the dough.  Mix until totally incorporated.  Then, wrap that 1/2 in plastic wrap then shape and flatten into a rectangle.  Place both parts of the dough into the fridge for 1 hour until the dough is slightly firm.

Once your dough has chilled, prepare your work space. I like to put the Glad Press and Seal plastic wrap right onto my countertop because I can “seal” it to the counter so it doesn’t budge.  Then take a piece of wax paper and place it over your dough so you have the plastic wrap under and the wax paper on top.  Now, you’re going to roll out your dough, starting with the plain dough, into a large rectangle (about 8″ x 12 “). Then, sprinkle the remaining cocoa and hazelnut mix evenly over the plain dough.  Place the wax paper back over the dough and carefully roll the powder into the dough with a rolling pin.

Once you have rolled out your plain dough and set the cocoa mixture into it put it aside on a piece of waxed paper or parchment.  Then, take your hazelnut and cocoa infused dough and do the same thing, roll it out to (about 8″ x 12”) or whatever size the first rectangle came out to.  Place the 2nd dough on top of the plain dough (making sure that the cocoa powder hazelnut mixture is in between the two doughs).  Trim this layered rectangle so that the edges match up evenly.  Keep the scraps, you can still enjoy them, they just don’t look as pretty.

Turn the rectangle so the long side faces your belly.  Carefully, using the wax paper to help roll the long edge into itself as tightly and evenly as you can (jelly roll style).  Wrap the dough in the wax paper and refrigerate for 3 hours (I often will leave it overnight).

If you are baking the cookies today, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place parchment paper on your cookie sheet.

Once the cookie log that you made is firm, take it out and slice the dough into 1/4 inch slices.  If you are making sandwich cookies you can slice them a bit thinner.  Bake the cookies at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 -15 minutes.  These cookies do not expand too much so you can put them fairly close to one another on the cookie sheet.

Packed up and ready to mail.
Packed up and ready to mail.

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