Hazelnuts might be my favorite nut, as least in baking. For munching, it’s probably almonds.
I got addicted to hazelnuts when my French grandmother would send us chocolate-hazelnut candies from France. I didn’t know what these chocolates were made of back then, but I knew the flavor was heavenly. These candies looked like chocolate chestnuts, in my memory. She lived in Nancy, France, so I don’t know if they are a specialty chocolate from that region or not.
Once I discovered what hazelnuts were, I’ve been going a little crazy with them! Especially in the fall, when I’m inspired to do more baking. I’ve already mentioned that hazelnuts go so well with chocolate, but they also pair with just about any fruit. You can add them to sweet breads, coffee cakes, savory breads, enjoy them in pies with cranberries, or just sprinkle them onto green beans and Brussels sprouts. If you like them.
The only problem, is that hazelnuts typically come with their skins on. And these skins are tight on the nut. There’s a little procedure that’s necessary to remove the skins before you follow through with recipes, but it’s easy.
So here’s what you do to remove hazelnut skins.
Place the pan in the preheated oven. Stay in the kitchen. You’re toasting the hazelnuts, and you don’t want them burned. Once you start smelling them, shake the pan around to toast all sides. They should be nice and golden brown. This might only take 10 minutes tops, so I repeat, don’t leave the kitchen!
Let the hazelnuts sit in the towel for about 20 minutes or so. The hot steam inside the towel will help loosen the skins.
It just like magic! This procedure may not remove every bit of skin, but you can always pick and choose which hazelnuts you use in a recipe, if you don’t want to see skin!
Look at how much comes off from this trick:
At this point, depending on your recipe, coarsely chop the hazelnuts, or place them in the jar of your food processor and process them accordingly. For the recipe I am making, in Monday’s post, I need a very fine grind of hazelnuts. If you grind too much you’ll end up with nut butter.
Alternatively, keep the hazelnuts whole for your recipe. Store leftover hazelnuts in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator.