Crumbly, buttery cookies are filled with a luscious hazelnut-flavored pastry cream in a recipe adapted from Rosetta Costantino's Southern Italian Desserts. These cookies are massive in both height and width; we find cutting them in half after assembling makes serving easier.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Italian Comfort Food
FOR THE FILLING
- 1 cup half & half
- 4 (1"-wide) strips lemon zest
- 2⁄3 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 egg yolks
- 16 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1⁄4 cup hazelnut paste
FOR THE COOKIES
- 3 cups flour
- 3⁄4 cup sugar
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. baking powder
- 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter
- 2 eggs
- 1 1⁄2 tsp. grated lemon zest
- Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Make the filling: Bring half & half and lemon zest to a simmer in a 2-qt. saucepan over medium heat. Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and yolks in a bowl until fluffy. Discard lemon zest and using a ladle, slowly whisk about 1⁄2 cup half & half into egg mixture until incorporated. Return mixture to pan; cook, whisking constantly, until very thick, about 6 minutes. Transfer pastry cream to a bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of cream to prevent a skin from forming; chill 1 hour.
Using an electric hand mixer, beat butter in a bowl until fluffy. Add the chilled pastry cream and the hazelnut paste; mix until combined. Cover with plastic wrap; chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Make the cookies: Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor. Add butter, pulse until pea-size crumbles form. Add eggs and zest; pulse until dough forms. Add 1-2 tbsp. cold water, if necessary, until dough holds together, but is not wet. Form dough into 2 disks; wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 hour.
Heat oven to 350°. On a lightly floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll 1 disk dough into a 10” circle, about 1⁄4” thick. Using a 3” round cutter, cut out cookies and transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Roll and reuse scraps. Bake rotating cookies once, until just golden, about 20 minutes. Let cookies cool completely.
Assemble the cookies: Spread about 1 1⁄2 tbsp. filling evenly on half the cookies, leaving no border; top with remaining cookies and lightly press together. Roll sides of cookies in remaining chopped hazelnuts. Dust cookies with confectioners’ sugar; chill until filling is firm, at least 1 hour.