The simplest way to blanch or peel hazelnuts. You will never use any other way!
Have you ever been frustrated when attempting to remove the skins, or peel, from hazelnuts (also called filberts) by the “roast and rub method” also known as the Roasting Method? I had tried it once before many moons ago. But, never again. You will soon learn why.
The process goes like this…you first roast the hazelnuts. Then, you place the hot hazelnuts inside a kitchen towel and allow the steam to help loosen their skins. After a few minutes, you rub the hot hazelnuts with your kitchen towel like mad. You then grumble because half of the hazelnuts escape during this process and roll out all over your work surface—even if that work surface is a half sheet baking pan. They tend to jump, you know. Then, some fall onto the floor and pick up cat hair. Grrrr. Sound familiar to you?
The real problem? The traditional Roasting Method, used by many chefs, simply does not work very well. In fact, you end up with a dark flecky mess all over your nice kitchen towels with about half the amount of stubborn skins still remaining all over your beautiful hazelnuts. Well, beautiful meaning dark and gothic in an Edward Gorey kind of way with “gashlyfleck tinies” all over your hazelnuts. No good, I say. Not for beautiful and tasty cakes and cookies worthy of the finest patisserie in town! So, what to do?
Enter the Easy Blanching & Toasting Method for Hazelnuts. It’s better than bad. It’s good. Wicked good.
Easy Blanching & Toasting Method for Hazelnuts
Skins on hazelnuts are very bitter. Since they are also difficult to remove, I have found an easy method to remove them. This method was found in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s James Beard Award-Winning cookbook, The Cake Bible. I have been using the method successfully since 1990 whenever I needed hazelnuts for the biscotti, cookies and cakes I made. It never fails. Rose credits Carl Sontheimer, Father of the Food Processor, for teaching her this technique.
Above, cookbook author Alice Medrich demonstrates this method in her Baking with Julia segment on PBS when she shared her rather messy Hazelnut Biscotti recipe. Julia was fascinated by this method, which Alice must have learned from Rose.
Side Note: There is a code of ethics, if you will, when it comes to sharing recipes and techniques whether written or shared by other media. You give credit where credit is due. Just like Rose did. I wish Alice had shared with Julia just where she learned this nifty trick—even if she learned it from a local chef who learned it from someone who learned it from Rose. I am big on this and always state where my recipes come from, whether it is an original concept or breakthrough recipe or I adapted the method or even the ingredients ratio as with our Slutty Caramel Apples for the caramel ingredients ratio. It is called doing honorable work and having credibility. I do my homework and strive to be a trusted source in the food blogosphere providing historical information whenever possible so you know where methods and techniques originated. I think this is very important and hope you think so, too.
Let’s Blanch Some Nuts
Since we usually need at least 1 to 1½ cups chopped blanched and toasted hazelnuts for most cake and cookie recipes (with a few to nosh on), follow these simple steps below:
2. Generously measure 1½ to 2 cups hazelnuts and set aside.
3. Measure 4 tablespoons baking soda and set aside.
4. Add baking soda to the boiling water.
The water will bubble up and fizz.
5. Quickly add the hazelnuts.
The water will bubble up and fizz again. Keep a slotted spoon and bowl nearby to skim off the foam as it rapidly forms. This will prevent it from bubbling over the rim of the saucepan.
6. Cook the hazelnuts for 3 to 4 minutes. (I have found that 3 to 3½ minutes is perfect.) The water will turn a very dark reddish-brown color (almost black) from the skins. Test a nut by running it under cold water. The skin should slip off easily using two fingers. If not, boil another 30 seconds to 1 minute longer.
7. Strain using a colander in the sink.
8. Rinse nuts well under cold running water (or in a bowl of ice water) then slip off the skins using your fingers. Dry completely with a kitchen towel or paper towels before transferring to baking sheet.
9. Toast blanched hazelnuts in a preheated 350°F. oven, stirring often, until light golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of hazelnuts (15 minutes for small hazelnuts and 20 minutes for large). Watch closely so they don’t burn.
10. Cool completely on a wire rack before chopping and using in recipes.
What makes our Easy Blanching & Toasting Method for Hazelnuts wicked good? This exceptional method comes straight from the Father of the Food Processor, Carl Sontheimer, and shared by Rose Levy Beranbaum in her James Beard Award-Winning cookbook, The Cake Bible (1988). Rose rules! And, so does Carl. We are talking about the inventor of the Cuisinart® Food Processor here, people! This method for easily peeling (blanching) hazelnuts is a real winner because it is both fast and effective. You will no longer be pulling your hair out to blanch hazelnuts via the Roasting Method ever again. Those who have never tried this method will find it truly life-changing as far as kitchen techniques go. That’s wicked good, indeed.
- 3½ to 4 cups water, I use purified (filtered) water
- 1½ to 2 cups hazelnuts, also known as filberts
- 4 tablespoons baking soda
Tips:During the last few minutes of baking, watch nuts closely so they don’t burn. The reason why ice water is used in a bowl is because when all the warm nuts are added, some of the ice will melt and the water will be just cold enough to stop the cooking process while aiding in the removal of the skins. There is no need to use ice if using cold running water working over the kitchen sink. Recipe Adapted From: The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum
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