Castells de Falset

Hazelnut Shortbread

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Makes

    24

Appears in

MoVida Rustica

By Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish

Published 2009

  • About

I BOUGHT A PACKET OF THESE CASTLE-SHAPED BISCUITS AS A PRETEXT TO WATCH HOW THE LOCALS IN THE TOWN OF FALSET BOUGHT THEIR WINE IN BULK. POLISHED BRASS TAPS JUTTED FROM THE TILED BACK WALL OF THE COOPERATIVE. A CUSTOMER WOULD BRING IN A PLASTIC 4 LITRE (140 FL OZ/16 CUP) BOTTLE AND THE SHOPKEEPER WOULD FILL IT WITH QUITE GOOD-QUALITY BULK WINE FOR AROUND 8 EUROS. IT WAS MORE GAS STATION THAN BOTTLESHOP, BUT WITH A WONDERFUL CONVERSATIONAL AIR. THE CASTELLS I NIBBLED ON WERE ALSO REMARKABLY GOOD-EXCELLENT IN FACT. THESE SHORTBREADS MAKE THE MOST OF THE WONDERFUL HAZELNUTS THAT GROW IN THE REGION. I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO FIND A CASTLE-SHAPED BISCUIT (COOKIE) CUTTER, SO I MADE A TEMPLATE OUT OF CARDBOARD AND CUT AROUND IT.

Ingredients

  • 70 g ( oz/½ cup) hazelnuts
  • 110 g ( oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • 50 g ( oz/¼ cup) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 110 g ( oz/scant 1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour, plus extra, to dust
  • icing (confectioners’) sugar, to dust

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Place the hazelnuts on a baking tray and bake for 8–10 minutes, or until golden. Tip the hot hazelnuts into a tea towel and rub off the skins. Cool, then chop in a food processor until a coarse meal forms.

Using a wooden spoon, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Add the flour and the hazelnut meal and stir until a dough forms. Place the dough on a well-floured sheet of baking paper and roll out until 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Allow to set a little in a cool place — but not the refrigerator — for 10 minutes.

Using a 4 cm ( inch) biscuit (cookie) cutter, cut out shapes from the pastry and place on a greased and lightly floured baking tray. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2).

Place the baking tray on the top rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until the shortbreads are golden and a wonderful smell of baked biscuits fills the air. Place on a wire rack to cool a little, then dust with icing sugar. The biscuits will keep for 4–5 days in an airtight container.