Candied hazelnut meltaways

These melt-in-your-mouth chocolate candies were made for the holidays.

Made with both dark and milk chocolate and mild-tasting coconut oil, these meltaways are a blissfully creamy confection. I’ve studded them with salted, caramelized candied hazelnuts and coated them with snow-white powdered sugar in keeping with the season.

Candied Hazelnut Meltaways

Yields | 43 squares |

  • ½ cup hazelnuts
  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • ⅛ tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • 8 oz 63 percent bittersweet dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 8 oz 46 percent milk chocolate, broken into pieces
  • ¾ cup refined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 350°F. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set on wire rack to cool, 5 minutes. Wrap hazelnuts in a large kitchen towel and rub them together to remove skins (it’s OK if some skins don’t rub off). Discard skins and place hazelnuts back on baking sheet to cool completely.

Line a clean baking sheet with a nonstick silicone baking mat or parchment paper. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, sea salt and water; set over medium-high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and then cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens into a syrup, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in toasted hazelnuts. Continue to stir until nuts are coated and sugar begins to crystallize, 1 to 2 minutes. (The nuts and the bottom of the pan will develop a coarse, powdery, white coating.)

Place saucepan back over medium-high heat; continuously stir until the nuts’ crystallized sugar coating melts and caramelizes into a golden amber color, 3 to 4 minutes. (The saucepan will begin to smoke lightly as the sugar caramelizes.) Immediately scrape candied hazelnuts onto prepared baking sheet; with the back of a heat-resistant spoon, spread them into an even layer. Set on wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, break candied hazelnuts into individual pieces by hand.

Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with parchment paper; set aside. In separate heat-resistant bowls, melt chocolates: Working in 30 second intervals and stirring between each interval, heat in microwave until chocolate has melted. Once melted, pour both chocolates and coconut oil into a large bowl; whisk together until thoroughly combined. Stir in candied hazelnuts. Pour chocolate-hazelnut mixture into prepared baking pan. If needed, use a spatula to lightly spread out the candied hazelnuts within the chocolate mixture to create an even layer. Place in refrigerator until set just firm enough to cut, 40 to 45 minutes.

Place powdered sugar in a large bowl; set aside. Lift meltaways out of baking pan using the sides of the parchment paper; set on a clean cutting board. Run a large chef’s knife under hot water to warm the blade and then trim off all four edges of chocolate square (heating the blade will create clean crisp cuts in the chocolate). Cut meltaways into 1-inch squares, reheating the blade and wiping it clean between cuts. Dredge each meltaway in powdered sugar; shake to remove excess powder.

For the best silky-smooth meltaway texture, enjoy them the day that you make them. They can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. If serving after storing, remove meltaways from refrigerator and allow them to soften at room temperature, approximately 25 minutes, before serving. Lightly recoat with powdered sugar as needed.

Teresa Floyd is a Kansas City-based food writer, editor for the online food publication feedfeed and contributing monthly columnist for Feast Magazine’s Sugar Rush. Find her current creations on Now, Forager, a pastry blog featuring seasonal desserts.

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