Few nuts are as notably improved by roasting as the hazelnut.
Most raw hazelnuts you find at the store are, in truth, a little chewy and a little bland, like a draft version of themselves. But a healthy roasting fixes that, boosting the flavor and allowing the excess water to evaporate, thereby leaving you with wonderfully crisp nuggets of pure nuttiness.
The bonus advantage when you roast hazelnuts is that it gives you the opportunity to skin them while you’re at it, rubbing them in a kitchen towel as the bitter husk easily detaches into a million little flakes you do not want to accidentally spill on your kitchen floor, trust me.
How to roast hazelnuts, and what to do with them?
I confess that most of the hazelnuts I roast and skin in this fashion, I end up snacking on with dried fruit such as prunes, figs, pears, or dates, as mentioned in this post about food gifts. But I also love to eat them on Roasted Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste, use them for a Hazelnut and Nectarine Gratin, or grind them to make Dukkah, this fantastic spice mix from Egypt. (More hazelnut recipes?)
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Do you usually roast and skin the nuts you cook and bake with? And what’s your favorite way to enjoy hazelnuts?
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- 500 grams (about 4 cups, a little over 1 pound) raw hazelnuts with skin
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F).
- Arrange the hazelnuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet, leaving the nuts a little -- but not too much -- wiggle room.
- Insert the baking sheet in the oven and leave the nuts in for 15 minutes, stirring them every 5 minutes or so. They are done when they are fragrant, their skin cracked and glistening. Because the husk is pretty dark, it can be hard to tell if it's starting to turn black and burn, so if you're unsure, it's best to err on the side of under-roasted.
- Drape a clean kitchen towel over a large bowl, and pour in the nuts (they may over-roast if left on the baking sheet). Let cool.
- Close the towel up into a bundle.
- Give it an energetic massage so the hazelnuts will rub against one another and the skin will come off in little flakes.
- Transfer the hazelnuts to a big jar, collecting them delicately from the towel with cupped hands and making sure you leave the skin flakes behind.
How long the roasted hazelnuts will keep before going rancid depends on how fresh they were to begin with -- in most cases, you should be good for a couple of months.