Yes, it’s true; I have been hoarding hazelnuts, or filberts if you prefer, in the freezer. When you move your entire space, whether it’s a house or in our case a small kitchen, you discover things that you knew were there but kinda, sorta forgot about. Why are they also called filberts you ask? I didn't really know and found this article from the Spruce Eats, discussing the various names of this nut explaining Saint Philibert of Jumièges' (c. 608–684) feast day is held on August 20, usually when hazelnuts are ripe.
I’m sure my love of hazelnuts started in high school during a trip to Germany where I discovered NutellaⓇ. What's not to love? Then jump to graduate school, where I attended a potluck gathering and someone brought a cake with hazelnuts. That was many years ago and I don’t remember the taste of the cake but I do remember it made an impression as something I liked. And let’s not forget the Ferrero RocherⓇ chocolates that are a perfect mix of chocolate and nutty crunch!
As I returned to the tradition of baking Christmas cookies a few years before Sweater Box was born I remember buying a bag of hazelnuts from the store. You know the display in the produce section of the grocery store during the holidays…bags of mixed nuts, almonds and hazelnuts that are all in the shell. Nut crackers are also usually included in the display, by themselves or in a kit, with that dangerous pick. This reminds me of a nutcracker from my childhood, it was made of wood and a handheld type that was shaped like a lady's legs. BLUSH! 😳 Of course as a kid I did not get the joke. But I digress, back to the hazelnuts. I would sit outside with a hammer and crack each hazelnut. I guess I forgot to purchase the nutcracker at the display. Then came the task of getting the skins off, I tried the boiling water/baking soda method and eventually found the oven method worked best for me. Then you would have to rub the toasted nuts in a towel to get the skins off. At the end of the day it was a messy, labor intensive, process. And so worth it IMHO!
I think this is where the hoarding tendencies started. I mean after all that work and mess I was not going to use the nuts for just anything, or anyone, you had to be hazelnut worthy! This meant only my closest friends and family (that I liked) were getting anything made with these little nuggets of brown, toasted gold! While ingredient shopping for our Sweater Box treats I’ve come across bags of hazelnuts on occasion and picked them up and thinking “I need to make something special with these!” In the past I've made a chocolate hazelnut version of wedding cookies that my boyfriend always asks for at Christmas but for the most part I hoard the nuts. So here we go…in the new year let's check one goal off the list. Let’s get these hazelnuts out of our freezer and into…Brownies! I can start exercising and eating more vegetables next week.🙄
We’ve tested a few new recipes and ended up tweaking our own recipe for a brownie that is a little bit fudgy in the center and a little cakey on the edges and of course hazelnuts! Ours will only be available for a limited time but you can always buy a box mix and add a tablespoon of hazelnut liqueur, a cup of toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped, and top with a sprinkling of sea salt and bake. Your mouth and hazelnut worthy peeps will thank you!