In preparation for the season finale of Downton Abbey, I pondered the appropriate refreshment that might be served to Lady Mary and her sisters of an evening in the Crawley household. While they would likely be served an elaborate menu, we modern ladies just need something to nibble on as we devour the plot twists and turns and wonder what we’ll do with our Sunday nights until Season Three begins.
Mrs. Patmore is one of my favorite characters: Her kind heart is typically camouflaged by a dustcloud of flour and the frazzle of having to produce a 22-course dinner each night, along with breakfast, lunch, and tea. You do not mess around in her kitchen. Still, if you are good you might be rewarded, at the end of the day, with a special treat. Like these shortbread cookies that are dressed up with chopped hazelnuts and bittersweet chocolate. They are delicate cookies, to be served with tea or coffee. Pinkies raised.
Chocolate-Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/3 cups flour
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted and peeled (see directions below), chopped finely
Preheat the oven to 350°.
In the bowl of stand mixer with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, salt, and vanilla, and beat until smooth. Add the flour and mix only until combined. Put the dough into the fridge while you prepare the mix-ins.
Put the hazelnuts in a baking dish and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Let the cool for a few minutes and ten remove the skins by rubbing the nuts in a clean towel. Chop the nuts finely.
Take the dough out of the fridge, and gently but thoroughly mix in the nuts and chocolate.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of parchment or a piece of plastic warp and form it into a 12-inch roll, about 2 inches in diameter. Wrap tightly and freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line cookie sheets with parchment. Cut the dough-log into 1/4 slices and place the slices about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool the cookies for 5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely