Hazelnuts

Hazelnuts. AKA filberts, the base of (vegan) Nutella, and a very delicious flavor to add in coffee. I’d known them as filberts for a long while because I grew up cracking the nuts out of their shell, along with almonds and walnuts, and eating them plain. Then I went vegan and really became passionate about baking and found out, filberts and hazelnuts: totally the same thing! I brought home some hazelnuts and got my hands on a bottle of fancy hazelnut coffee syrup, then got to work in the kitchen and baked up a few distinctly different treats.

For a hazelnutty brunch, I have Hazelnut Black Tea Pear Muffins which, I promise, are far less weird than they sound. Adding the black tea was on a total whim. I was so focused on making pear hazelnut muffins that I completely forgot…drink theme! It would be quite a stretch to say chopped pears and toasted hazelnuts were a part of any drink, so I had to think quick. Hazelnut pear already had this hearty tea shop vibe going on, so the answer was clear. Black tea ended up adding a certain something to the mix! These muffins are great for breakfast, and a little bit more substantial than a cupcake. The pear flavor complements the nuttiness of the hazelnuts and the black tea gives it a complex earthiness. A thin drizzle of dark and white chocolate completes the muffin tops. I’ve been really into adding tea to baked goods by grinding the contents of a tea bag (or loose tea) and adding a small spoonful. This works best with black tea, as in chai cookies.

When I first made these, they were kind of dense. Then on a completely separate wavelength of thoughts, I realized I never put any oil in them, or even took the bottle of canola oil out of the pantry. Shortly after, I put two and two together and facepalmed a little. See, unless I meticulously measure out all my ingredients, these mistakes just happen sometimes all the time. But even so, they turned out yummy!

These are Hazelnut Latte Cupcakes, a recipe by Carla Kelly of Quick and Easy Vegan Bake Sale. I was talking with Carla about my upcoming project and she sent this recipe my way! The cake is infused with coffee, hazelnut syrup, and toasted hazelnut meal (homemade with a food processor), then topped with a fluffy buttercream. I added some of the syrup to the frosting for a touch of flavor.

Hazelnut Salted Caramel Cake. This is basically just my salted caramel cupcakes made in cake pans, with a few generous glugs of hazelnut syrup in both the batter and frosting. Friends and family love the salted caramel cupcakes, so the cake version is one of my go-to cake recipes for birthdays. The hazelnuts are a great addition to the sweet and salty combination. This cake was for my mom’s birthday last month!

There you have it! Three ways to use hazelnuts. Getting the most out of one ingredient is a great strategy to force yourself to be creative in the kitchen and is also quite cost effective. You end up with a few new recipes out of the deal too! What are your favorite ingredients to bake up several different ways? I’m pondering my next move!

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