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Cindy Beberman’s recipe for Hazelnut Espresso Truffle cookies won first place of 147 entries in the Chicago Tribune’s 2005 holiday cookie contest.

Beberman, a member of Orland Park (Ill.) Christian Reformed Church, said she developed the recipe from her sister’s description of a cookie she tasted in Italy. Her recipe was featured in the Tribune and she won a $200 gift certificate.

This isn’t Beberman’s first award-winning recipe. She won third place in the Tribune’s 2000 contest and she has also won recipe contests sponsored by Reader’s Digest and Good Housekeeping.

“What I like most about winning is being able to share the recipe with a lot of people and thinking it might get [families] to create cookies and memories together,” she said.

Hazelnut Espresso Truffle Cookies

1 ½ cups shelled hazelnuts
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups superfine sugar (or granulated sugar processed 30 seconds in food processor)
½ teaspoon salt
1 whole egg, plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
½ teaspoon baking powder

Truffle Filling (Ganache)

1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
9 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
5 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
(Note: I like to use good quality chocolate such as Trader Joe’s imported Belgian milk chocolate “Pound Plus,” or Nestlé’s semisweet)


1 ¼ cup (or about 8 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips (Guittard or Nestlé)

  1. Heat oven to 350° F (175° C). Roast hazelnuts on baking sheet 14-15 minutes, until golden brown and fragrant. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, then rub briskly while still warm in clean towel to remove most of skins. Place cooled nuts in food processor; process until finely ground. Set aside.
  2. In bowl of electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, extra yolk, vanilla, and then espresso powder. Add nuts and beat until well blended. Combine flour and baking powder; add to nut mixture, beating on low speed until just mixed.
  3. Divide dough in half, shaping into two discs, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.
  4. Heat oven to 375° F (190° C). Remove one disc of dough from refrigerator and cut in half, returning remainder to fridge. Lightly flour work surface; roll dough to 1/8" (3 mm) thick. Flour rolling pin as needed to prevent sticking. Cut dough into desired shapes with small-size holiday cookie cutters. Place cookies ½" (1.5 cm) apart on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheet.
  5. Bake 7 to 8 minutes until edges are just golden and cookies are set. Cool cookies on the sheet for 1 minute; then transfer cookies to wire cooling racks to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining dough.
  6. To make truffle filling (ganache), heat cream in small heavy saucepan over medium heat to just boiling. Remove from heat, and pour over chopped chocolate in mixing bowl (not plastic). Stir vigorously until chocolate is melted and smooth. Chill uncovered in refrigerator for 40-45 minutes, beating occasionally until ganache thickens and is spreadable. Spread filling 1/8" (3 mm) thick on flat side of cookie and place another cookie on top of filling, sandwich-style. If ganache thickens too much before you finish filling, briefly set the bowl in a larger bowl or pan of hot water and stir. It will quickly soften again.
  7. To trim cookies, melt chocolate over very low heat, stirring until smooth. Cool slightly. Spoon into pastry bag fitted with a fine writing tip (or plastic sandwich bag with tiny hole cut in tip). Pipe thin lines of chocolate back and forth over top of each cookie.
  8. Place sheets of cookies in freezer for 10 minutes until chocolate is set. Store cookies in airtight containers in refrigerator; serve cookies at room temperature. These cookies will keep 5-7 days in the fridge, 3 months in the freezer, or may be kept at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Yield—about 40 2 ½-inch (6cm) cookies

(Note regarding instant espresso: It is available at Whole Foods and Italian deli/groceries. Crystals may be turned into powder form by placing them inside a plastic bag and firmly rolling them with a rolling pin.)

Quick Easy Method

Instead of doing a rolled and cut-out cookie, I usually make these cookies using the slice-and-bake method. Cut dough into quarters and shape each into a log about 1.5" (4 cm) in diameter. Roll each log in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 2 hours, and then slice with a thin, sharp knife into slices 1/8-1/4" (3-6 mm) thick slices. Place slices 1" (2.5cm) apart on baking sheet and bake 7 minutes. Of course, the piped chocolate trim is optional.

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