These unusual hazelnut cookies (or biscuits) are a German specialty called Nussplätzchen which have a thin base topped with mound of hazelnut marzipan. The topping is soft and chewy when first baked but hardens and becomes crunchy in a matter of days. As with much Christmas baking make these ahead because they will keep for a month or more.

I had made these a couple of days ago but today it is quite significant that I post these cookies as we see images and hear of the tragedy at the Christmas markets in Berlin. It seems surreal that we can be celebrating a joyful Christmas while in many parts of the world people are struggling to survive be it because of war, famine or poverty. Our freedom and relative peace in Australia is to be treasured.

Nussplätzchen adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent
makes 60

Cookie base
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
115g/ 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Hazelnut topping
250g/8 ozs ground hazelnuts
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 castor sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

To make the cookies base, place flour, sugar, cardamom, lemon rind and butter into bowl of food processor. Process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until it just comes together. Turn onto your work surface and shape into a log. With the heel of your hand smear the dough away from you in small intervals. Gather the dough up again and repeat. Press the dough together into a flat disk, wrap in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

To make the filling, place egg and egg white into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until slightly thicken. Gradually add the sugar and beat for 5 minutes. Mix in the cinnamon, lemon rind and hazelnut meal. Cover the bowl with plastic and refrigerate overnight.

The next day preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a couple of baking trays with baking paper. Allow the dough to come to room temperature.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm/1/8inch. Cut into small rounds of about 4.5cm/1 3/4 inch. Reroll the dough to make more rounds. You will need 60 rounds. Place rounds onto prepared baking trays

Divide the cold topping into 60 balls and press onto the bases. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until only pale golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.