This is the kind of recipe that everybody needs in their repertoire: easy to make, and keeps, half-made, in the fridge or freezer, ready to be baked when the mood strikes or friends drop in. It is also easily customisable: swap the hazelnuts for pecans or walnuts; omit the coffee and add dried cranberries and orange zest for the festive season; make a tropical version using coconut threads and lime zest. For extra crunch, dip one side of the cookies in sugar before baking.
280g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp coffee grounds
½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly ground black pepper
¾ tsp aniseeds, toasted and roughly crushed
120g hazelnuts, raw, with skin on
250g unsalted butter, in large cubes, at room temperature
100g castor sugar
70g light brown sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
1. Place the flour, salt, coffee grounds, cinnamon, black pepper and aniseed in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
2. Place the hazelnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are finally chopped but not powdery. Add to the bowl with the flour and spices.
3. Combine the butter, sugars and vanilla in the bowl of a cake mixer and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape the bowl's sides with a spatula to ensure the mixture is well combined, then reduce the speed to low and add the dry ingredients in three batches. Beat until incorporated, scraping the bowl to ensure all flour has been mixed in.
4. Tip the dough out onto a clean workbench and shape it roughly into a log. Divide into two, and wrap each in long strips of cling film. Roll the logs until they are about 20cm in length. The dough will be too soft to shape, so don't worry for now if they are not even or smooth. Twist the ends together like lolly wrappers, then place in the fridge. After an hour or so, when the dough has firmed up a bit, remove from the fridge and gently roll on the workbench to smooth the logs. Put them back in the fridge for at least an hour (or freeze for up to 3 months).
5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 170C (150C fan-forced). Line one or two baking trays (depending on how many slices you want to bake) and set aside. Unwrap the logs, place on a chopping board and cut into 1cm thick slices. Place on the baking tray and bake until they are firm and lightly golden, 20-25 minutes. The biscuits should be completely cooked through the centre and snap when they are done. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.