These darling, heart-shaped goodies are composed of rich layers of different chocolates, buttery hazelnuts, and crispy rice cereal for texture.
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3/4 c. hazelnuts (filberts)
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 c. confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 large egg
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (60 percent to 70 percent cacao)
8 oz. milk chocolate
1/2 c. chocolate-hazelnut spread
1 c. crisped-rice cereal
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Place hazelnuts in jelly-roll pan. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, shaking pan occasionally. Remove pan from oven. Wrap hot hazelnuts in clean cloth towel; with hands, roll hazelnuts back and forth until as much skin as possible rubs off. Cool nuts completely. Very finely chop 1/2 cup nuts; chop remaining 1/4 cup nuts. Set aside separately.
In medium bowl, whisk flour and cocoa. In large bowl, with mixer on medium speed, beat 1/2 cup butter until very soft. Beat in confectioners' sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt until well blended. Beat in egg until well blended, scraping bowl occasionally. Reduce speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture, then very finely chopped nuts just until blended. Form dough into 1-inch-thick disk and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until firm, or up to 3 days.
On lightly floured surface, with lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. With floured 2- to 3-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on prepared sheets.
Bake cookies 12 minutes or until set. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with trimmings. Cookies can be stored in airtight container up to 1 day.
On large sheet of waxed paper, use same cookie cutter as a stencil to draw 24 hearts with pencil. Turn paper over and tape to large white cutting board or flat platter.
Transfer melted bittersweet chocolate to small resealable plastic bag. Snip small hole in one corner and pipe chocolate to trace outlines of hearts on waxed paper. Refrigerate 10 minutes or until firm.
Reserve 2 tablespoons melted milk chocolate in medium bowl. Transfer remaining to small resealable plastic bag. Snip large hole in one corner. Fill in outlines of hearts with thin, even layer of chocolate, using small metal (offset) spatula to spread if needed. Refrigerate 10 minutes or until firm. Hearts and reserved milk chocolate can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.
If making ahead, melt reserved milk chocolate again. Stir in chocolate-hazelnut spread, reserved nuts, remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and 1/8 teaspoon salt until smooth. Gently fold in cereal until well coated.
Divide cereal mixture among cookies and spread into even layer. Top each with hardened chocolate heart, smooth side up, and decorate with additional chocolate if desired.