Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers

Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers
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hazelnut crackers
Nuts! Nut crackers!

Oh, do we like hazelnuts. Not as much as pecans, or maybe even almonds, but they are tasty. So, imagine a cracker made almost exclusively from hazelnuts. Sounds good, right? We at least have to try it.

This is the last recipe from Ivy Manning’s Crackers & Dips: More than 50 Handmade Snacks, that we made up for the social hour. Besides liking the taste and idea of a hazelnut cracker, we noticed that these crackers are also gluten-free. We don’t really mind for ourselves, but, when you bake for others, it’s nice make something for everyone. If you find the right recipe, it’s often no more trouble, so why not?

Makes 50 crackers

Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers

Brown Butter-Hazelnut Crackers

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups (300 g) hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Abbreviated Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Place nuts on a baking tray and roast for 10 to 15 minutes, or until skins are cracked and they smell nutty. Remove from oven and remove skins by rubbing in a clean dish towel. Set aside.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Once foaming subsides, continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter becomes the color of light brown sugar. Pour into small glass container and allow to cool. Scoop 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter into a small bowl and whisk in egg. Discard remaining melted butter and butter solids.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse nuts, sugar, and salt until nuts are finely ground, about 30 pulses. With machine running, pour in egg mixture until a dough forms -- you will not need all the egg mixture.

Divide dough in half, and place between two pieces of plastic wrap. Roll to a thickness of 1/16-inch. Cut into 1 1/2-inch squares and transfer to baking sheets.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges and firm when touched. Watch carefully during the last few minutes as these crackers can burn easily.

Cool on a rack and transfer to an airtight tin for storage.

http://scratchinit.halversen.com/2013/10/brown-butter-hazelnut-crackers/

Ingredient discussion:

You know what we think about eggs, right? No? Okay, get eggs from free-ranging hens, they taste sooo much better. Also, we always use unsalted butter, and you should too. Why? Do you let strangers salt your food at restaurants? No. Why let them salt your butter?

Procedure in detail:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats.

Roast hazelnuts. Put the hazelnuts on one of the sheets and roast for 10 to 15 minutes. The skins will crack and they will start to smell even nuttier.

skinning hazelnuts
After toasting the hazelnuts, wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub to remove the skins.

Skin. Peel the skins off the hazelnuts. The skin is bitter, so you want to get rid of it. We find that most of the skins come right off, and rubbing the stubborn ones in a clean dish towel fixes up the rest. Set aside.

browning butter
Browning butter adds a bunch of flavor. While cooking, it smells and tastes like caramel.

Brown butter. This is a skill that we need to work on. Browning butter. Why? It adds lots of flavor! Put the butter in a small skillet over medium heat and let it melt, then sizzle; after that, it will start to brown. Swirl the butter around periodically, and, once the butter is the color of light brown sugar, remove from heat and pour into a small glass bowl to let the milk solids settle.

toasted hazelnut meal
After pulsing a bunch, you should have toasted hazelnut meal.

Grind hazelnuts. Put the hazelnuts, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor, and pulse away. Keep pulsing; it’ll take about thirty 1-second pulses to get the hazelnuts ground. Then stop. Too many pulses and you might end up with hazelnut butter; not a bad thing, just not what we’re making.

Whisk the egg and butter together. We should have brougt the egg to room temperature as our butter solidified.
Whisk the egg and butter together. We should have brought the egg to room temperature, as our butter solidified.

Whisk egg and butter. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons of the browned butter and the egg. The butter should come from the top of the bowl so that there are very few milk solids in it. The remaining browned butter can be discarded — we hate to waste food, so we had squash and pasta in a brown butter sauce that night.

hazelnut cracker dough
You won’t need all the egg and butter mixture; the dough comes together quickly.

Make dough. Turn on the processor and slowly add the egg-butter mixture. Watch carefully, because before you use all the egg and butter, you’ll have a dough that rides on the blades, and, at that point, you should stop. You won’t use all the egg and butter mixture; just discard the rest. Sorry, we didn’t use those leftovers, but perhaps an omelet?

hazelnut cracker dough
It is an absolute must to roll this dough between plastic. It is very soft and sticky.

Roll out. Take about half of the dough, place it between two sheets of plastic wrap, and roll out to a thickness of 1/16-inch. Don’t worry, this dough is very soft and it should roll out easily.

hazelnut crackers
Here’s where we tried cutting them into squares with a sharp knife. We actually preferred this method to the pasta cutter (below).

Cut. Cut squares about 2 inches on a side, transfer them carefully to the prepared baking sheets, and slide them in the oven.

Bake. Let the crackers bake for about 15 minutes, or until they begin to brown around the edges and are firm to the touch. While baking, they will foam up a little as the oils from the hazelnuts are released. Don’t worry, it’ll go away.

hazelnut crackers
We cut some of the crackers with a fluted pasta cutter, some with a knife.

Cool. Transfer to a rack and cool to room temperature. Place in an airtight container for storing.

Surprisingly, these crackers only had a mild hazelnut flavor, and, while they were pretty good, we wouldn’t consider them good enough to make again. Instead, we’d be more inclined to make something that really brings out the taste of hazelnuts, such as the Grown-up Nutella or the Chocolate Hazelnut Pie. But, for a gluten-free nut cracker, they weren’t too bad. We’d say three stars.

Worth the trouble?

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