My older sister Aimbot has taught me many things in life. Almost 6 years older than me, Ms. Aimbot always seemed so impossibly sophisticated (still does, in fact, to this day). Her clothes are perfect, her hair smooth and makeup fresh and lovely. She's traveled all over the country and Europe, and she always knew about the hot new boutiques and brands. She listened to Trent Reznor waaaay before his famous days ;) She also introduced me to many foodie things: good coffee (don't underestimate the coffee in Minneapolis, folks), Hit Cookies, sushi, Leinies, the best fish and chips on the continent... the list goes on and on.
And as sleek and gorgeous as Aimbot is, she is also one of the most charming, goofy people on this planet. She's down-to-earth and engaging, and I've always idolized her (to this day, people know we're sisters not because we look alike, which we don't - it's because we have the same mannerisms and posture and oddly enough, the same 'walk'. I love that when I hear it from people).
Anyhoo, one thing Aimbot introduced me to was Nutella. It was way before it was popular here in the States, you couldn't get it at your average supermarket. Creamy and nutty and chocolatey, no wonder it's such a hit across the pond! From that point on, I could not get enough. Always there was a jar of the stuff in my cabinets, and it always reminds me of my big sister.
Aimbot and her husband just had their first children, sweet little twins. Even though the last thing they can eat is Aunt Nemmie's baked goods, I wanted to make something for them. And considering their mom's tastes, these Nutella sandwich cookies seemed like a no-brainer. They are so good, too - the shortbread is crumbly and buttery and wonderfully nutty, with a nice (thick) glob of Nutella in the middle. Mmmm. Heaven.
So, here's my gift (for now anyway, more on the way via UPS!). Congratulations to my dear sweet Aimbot, and a big welcome to little George and Elise! Please enjoy the cookies teeny babies, they are your mother's favorite flavor, you know.
Nutella Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
(from Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook, 2005)
1/2 c. hazelnuts
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
1/2 jar Nutella
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease two sheet pans or line with parchment (or Silpat).
Toast and skin the hazelnuts. In a food processor, pulse the hazelnuts with the sugar until they are finely ground. Add the flour and pulse again. Add the butter pieces, and process it until the mixture comes together. Turn out onto a work surface.
Roll out dough to approximately 1/8-in. thickness. With any shape cookie cutter (you might want something symmetrical, so they are alike when sandwiching together), cut out cookies and transfer the cookies to the prepared sheet pans.
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, depending on their size and thickness. They are ready when they begin to look golden at the edges (I overbaked mine, like an amateur). Cool the cookies on the sheet pans.
Once cooled: spread the Nutella on one cookie and make a sandwich by topping the Nutella with another cookie.