RECIPE – OYSTERS, A HAZELNUT-CHOCOLATE SANDWICH COOKIE

I tried to share my Oyster cookie recipe with some folks today, only to find that the page that contained it has disappeared off this blog. I don’t seem to have it handy in back-up either, so I’m reposting the thing.

You can’t say that this is an original recipe, since plain spritz and chocolate fillings of this type are cookbook standards, but I can say that I noodled what is here out myself. I’ve made them now about eight years in a row, and they remain a family favorite. They got their strange name from the first batch I made. I didn’t grind the nuts finely enough, and bits stuck in the holes of my cookie press. The cookies that resulted were rather haphazardly shaped oozy lumps rather than nice, neat spritz cookie shapes like the hearts below. I mated up the oddball cookies as best I could, but my kids thought the weirdo sandwiches looked a lot like inhabited oyster shells, and the name stuck.

Oysters
A hazelnut spritz cookie with dark chocolate filling

oysters.jpg

Ingredient and process notes:

Chocolate – The better the chocolate used for the filling, the better the cookie. We like the bitterness and texture of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Chips for these. They’re a nice contrast with the sweet, airy cookies. Feel free to go upscale from here.

Hazelnuts – It’s difficult to find shelled hazelnuts. We buy ours at Trader Joes. A one -pound bag will make about two or three batches of cookies, so my best guess is that between a third and a half pound of whole shelled nuts will yield the 2 cups needed for this recipe. I’ve also cracked in-shell nuts for this, but I don’t have a good feel for what weight of in-shell nuts will yield the amount of finely ground nut kernels cited. Note that both the bagged shelled nuts I buy and in-shell nuts still have the inner peels on them. I’ve tried all of the conventional peeling methods, but they are time-consuming in the extreme. I settle for a half-way measure. After I’ve toasted the nuts in the oven, I freeze them. Just before grinding them up for use in the recipe, I take them and handful by handful, rub them between my palms over the sink. About half of the skins will slip off the nuts as they are rubbed. I pop the still-cold nuts into the food processor and grind them up as they are. It’s not a perfect solution, but I don’t mind the look of the cookies with the tiny flecks of brown left by the remaining skins. I also think that using frozen nuts helps keep them from turning into filbert-butter when I’m trying to get a fine grind.

Batter -The batter for this cookie is very soft, almost the consistency of room temperature cream cheese. I do not have a problem handling it in my cookie press, but people who haven’t used them much might prefer a slightly stiffer texture. Popping the batter in the fridge for an hour or two will firm it up and make for easier handling.

Makes around 90 finished filled cookies.

Ingredients for cookies

  • 1 cup Unsalted butter (softened) cup plus 2 Tbs Vegetable shortening
  • 2 cup Granulated white sugar
  • 3 Extra-large eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 3 cups All purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6 Tbs Milk or cream
  • 2 cup Finely ground whole hazelnuts, removed from the shell. These are best if bought whole, then lightly toasted in a 250 oven for about a half hour until they are fragrant, and some of them have toasty-looking edges. Peeling off the inner skin of the nuts is optional (see note above). Once cooled, they should be run through a food processor until they’re very finely ground.

Ingredients for chocolate filling

  • 6 oz. Semisweet or Bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli Double Chocolate)
  • cup Heavy cream

Special equipment

  • Cookie press
  • Food processor
  • Cookie sheets (parchment or silicon baking liners are optional)
  • Cooling racks

Directions for cookies:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F
  2. Cream shortening with butter
  3. Add sugar and eggs to butter and mix until fluffy.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix flour and salt
  5. Measure out milk or cream. Add vanilla to milk or cream.
  6. Alternately add flour/salt and milk/vanilla mix to butter/eggs/sugar until all is incorporated. (I usually do this by thirds.) You will get a very sloppy, sticky cookie batter.
  7. Stir in ground nuts. If you like you can refrigerate it at this point and bake the cookies later. The dough will get a bit firmer when cool, but will still be soft enough to pipe through the cookie press. (see note above). If the cookie batter is stiffer than Play-Doh, drizzle in a bit more milk or cream and mix to combine.
  8. Pipe dough through cookie press onto lightly greased cookie sheets, or onto cookie sheets with parchment or silicon liners. Use a cookie press die with relatively large holes, because the ground nuts will clog up the dies with small holes.
  9. Bake cookies in 375 for about 8-10 minutes. If you used a bare, greased cookie sheet let the cookies rest undisturbed on the on the hot cookie sheet for a couple of minutes after you take them out of the oven before removing them to a cooling rack. If you used a cookie sheet with a liner, slide the liner onto a cooling rack and remove the cookies from the liner onto a rack when they’ve cooled and set for a couple of minutes. When completely cool, store cookies in an airtight container. They do not need to be refrigerated.
  10. Cookies must be completely cooled before filling. I usually bake these one day, then fill them the next.

Directions for filling:

  1. Warm heavy cream in small saucepan over low heat until it just begins to simmer around the edges. Stir constantly while warming to prevent skin from forming.
  2. When cream is hot, stir in chocolate chips. Remove from heat. Continue to stir off the heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and spreadable, with no lumps of unmelted chocolate.
  3. Find two cookies of approximately the same size. While the filling is still warm, spoon a small bit (about tsp) of filling onto one cookie, then press the other on top of the filling. Let the filled cookies cool off on a rack so the chocolate filling firms up, then return them to the airtight container.

Variants: Use walnuts, pecans or almonds in place of hazelnuts. Fill with preserves instead of chocolate. Flavor the chocolate filling with two tablespoons of liqueur.


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2 responses

  1. Omnomnom…

    Oh, man do I want some of these right now… D:

  2. Shelled hazelnuts can be found at Costco, or at least they can be up here in Vancouver Canada.

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