Chocolate Hazelnut Pochettes

by angelika on September 29, 2010

The Chicago Bears were playing on Monday Night Football this week. I am a Chicago native, and a huge Bears fan. It was a very exciting night, as they were playing the Green Bay Packers, our biggest rivals. We, of course, had to host a MNF evening at our house. In true Chicago football tradition we ordered Chicago style deep dish pizza. If you have not had the pleasure, you must run and seek this experience. It might kill you, but it would be worth it. Here in bay area we have Zachary’s Pizza, which I submit, is actually better than any pizza I ever had in Chicago… but don’t tell Chicago. Really, it would just hurt her feelings.

So I bet you are thinking why the blog post if you ordered out? Well, I do have a picture of the pizza we ate, but I will save that for the end. We also served the salad from my last post, the Arugula with Gorgonzola and Pecans. The thing is, you can’t have all that richness without something sweet to compliment it. So in that vain I present to you my new favorite cookie like dessert. Chocolate Hazelnut Pochettes.

This is adapted from a Melissa d’Arabian recipe I saw on Food Network. I changed a few things though, as I tried her version first and found the one pictured above to be more to my taste. 
Chocolate Hazelnut Pochettes 
2 sticks butter, room temperature
8oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt 
1 egg mixed with 1 tsp milk
granulated sugar or confectioners sugar for dusting
The dough we prepare for this treat is the very same dough my grandmother uses for several of her Christmas cookies. She stuffs hers with spiced nuts, which are truly divine. It is a good cookie dough to have in your repertoire. This is a bit of a testy dough, so you have to take a little extra care with it. I have found that the longer you let it rest the better. I made mine the night before, and left it in the fridge until the next afternoon. I found it very easy to work with this way. 
Take your butter and cream cheese and cream them together with a had mixer, or in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. You can probably do it by had too. Add in the flour and the salt slowly, and as soon as it just comes together stop mixing. Be so very careful not to over-mix this dough. 
ready to turn out

Turn the dough onto a floured board and just work it together. Split in half and wrap each half in plastic and put in the fridge of at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. The cream cheese makes this a very soft dough; when it is not cold enough it sticks to everything and can be very hard to work with.

When you are ready to make your pochettes take one dough out of the fridge and let it stand for about 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375º.
Roll out the dough on a generously floured board. I like about 1/4″ thickness. I used a biscuit cutter to cut rounds. My grandmother always cut her dough in squares and folded the cookies into thirds making a pillow of sorts. She baked it with the seam side down. I like the little half moons I get with the circle. Use any shape you like. As you run out of dough roll it out again and cut more shapes. I like to put the cut shapes onto a sheet pan with a silicone liner and then put the tray in the fridge while I work. 
Once you have all your cookies cut out fill with your chocolate hazelnut spread. You can use Nutella, perhaps the most famous of this genre, but I like the organic ones you can find at your local health food store better. I am unsure of the fat used in the more popular brands. Is it hydrogenated, is it not? The only drawback of the organic variety is the size of the jar is only 8oz. It turns out that if, while making these cookies, you eat a few tsp of spread directly from the spoon…. you may actually end up not having enough! Who knew a few tsp here and there could make such a difference. 
I am not sure how much I put in, about half of a teaspoon from my silverware set. Not the actual measure. You can eyeball it. Then fold the pochette over and crimp a bit with your finger to seal it. You can also dip your finger in water and run along the bottom edge before folding them shut to seal. I couldn’t be bothered, but some of mine did open a bit in baking. 
Now there are two ways to finish these off. My grandmother just bakes hers in the 375º oven for 15 minutes, until they are just starting to turn golden. She then cools, and dusts with confectioners sugar. 
grandma’s way
In my incarnation of this recipe I whisk one egg with a tsp of milk, and then brush each cookie with the egg wash and sprinkle generously with granulated sugar. Bake at 375º for 15 minutes.  I greatly prefer the texture of these cookies. The powdered sugar ones are a touch doughy for me, and the egg wash variety have the extra layer of crispness and the tiny crunchy sugar hit from the granulated sugar layer. When you add this to the incredible decadent richness of chocolate hazelnut spread, they are truly divine. Let’s just say I won’t tell you what I had for breakfast this morning. 

my way 
In case you needed another glorious picture of food, here is the pizza from Zachary’s that we devoured. Aren’t you just a little bit jealous? A special thanks to my wonderful husband who drove the 60 miles each way to get this little treasure for us. 
oh yeah! 

Go Bears!

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