Brown Butter Hazelnut Shortbread
with Fleur De Sel
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened but still cool, divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus a pinch, divided
1 large egg, separated
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups (6 3/4 ounces) chopped hazelnuts
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 heaping teaspoon coarse fleur de sel or sea salt*
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate**
Place 1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons) in small saucepan over moderate heat.
Melt and cook until butter stops foaming, smells toasty and begins to brown, about
10 minutes. The browner the butter, the deeper the flavor, but don’t let it blacken
or burn. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
Place the remaining butter (12 tablespoons) in a bowl. Using an electric mixer
or wooden spoon, beat until creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat
until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and cooled browned butter. Mix
to combine. Then add flour, 1 cup at a time, and stir with a wooden spoon to combine.
Chill the batter for 20 to 30 minutes.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F with oven rack in the middle. Butter a 10x15-inch
jelly roll pan. Divide dough into 8 rough portions and arrange them evenly in the
pan. Press dough into an even layer to fill the pan.
In a small bowl, beat the egg white with a pinch of salt. Brush mixture evenly
over the dough. Sprinkle hazelnuts over the top; press down lightly. In another
small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons sugar with the cinnamon and nutmeg and sprinkle
over nuts. Sprinkle sea salt over the top.
Bake, rotating the pan once halfway through baking, until golden brown and crisp,
about 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes and cut into 1- to 2-inch squares or diamonds.
Transfer to a cooling rack.
Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Using a
very small tipped pastry bag or the tines of a fork, drizzle the chocolate over
the tops of the shortbreads.
Makes 3-4 dozen
* Shopping notes: Look for coarse fleur de sel at specialty food markets or for
sea salt at most supermarkets.
** For the best chocolate flavor, look for bittersweet chocolate with a minimum
of 60 percent cocoa solids.