Nussecken are the insanely delicious German chocolate hazelnut bar cookies. The crisp shortbread crust topped with a buttery caramelized hazelnut layer and dipped in chocolate is the stuff of sweet dreams. A must try for any baker or dessert lover. Easy recipe with rewarding results for weeks.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut parchment paper to fit the size of the baking sheet (18 x 3 pan).
In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl, cream the softened butter with sugar until smooth. Add eggs, vanilla, pinch of salt and beat it all together.
Stir in the flour and baking power until well incorporated into a smooth dough.
Roll the dough over the paper in the shape of your baking pan, until it is close to that size. Then transfer it and press it further to fit the pan uniformly. Use a fork and prick all over the dough. Tip: You can also roll the dough between layers of parchment paper if that is helpful.
Spread apricot jam over the dough evenly and set it aside.
Nut Topping Layer
If using raw whole nuts, then scatter hazelnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan, and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, until light brown and the skin blister. Rub the nuts in a kitchen towel to loosen the skin, and discard some or all of the skin.
Then chop the nuts finely. If using a food processor, only use pulse action to get a fine and even grind. Hand chopping with a sharp knife or a hand chopper is a reliable option.
In a saucepan, heat butter, nut butter, sugar, water and vanilla, whisking it together. Cook it only until the sugar dissolves, and not further than that.
Add the hazelnut meal (very finely ground nuts) and chopped nuts and stir it very well.
Drop dollops of the nut mixture all over the dough and using a rubber spatula, smooth it into a uniform layer.
Bake and Cut
Lower the temperature to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake in the center of oven for about 25 to 35 minutes, until light golden brown on the edges. Cool it overnight and/or chill it. This helps the layers firm up.
Using a sharp knife, score 35 squares and cut them. Then cut across the diagonal of the squares into 70 nut triangles.
Melt the chocolate in microwave or in a bowl set over steaming water. Adding a little butter may help but that’s optional.
Dip the corners or sides of the nussecken in the melted chocolate. Use a spatula or brush to remove any excess chocolate. Place the nut corners on a cooling rack or parchment paper lined sheet and let the chocolate set.
Warm up the chocolate if it becomes too thick while dipping.
Store these Nussecken (German chocolate hazelnut bar cookies) in an airtight container at room temperature.
To make even sized nut triangles, first lightly score equal sized squares, using a measurement guide, cut them and then cut on the diagonal.
Hazelnut meal can be easily made at home in a food processor, using the pulse action and let it not turn into butter.
Pairing finely chopped hazelnuts with almond meal may be an easier and less expensive option here in the US.
Less refined sugar: Use ¾ cup maple syrup or honey instead of sugar to make the hazelnut topping layer. Skip the additional water in the recipe.
These stay fresh for 3 to 4 weeks in an airtight container at room temperature. To freeze, wrap in parchment paper and pack in freezer safe bags. Thaw to room temperature and enjoy.