Vegan Thai Savory “Rice” Pudding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yield: 6 Servings

Calories: app 217/serving without cashew garnish  (app. 1,300 for entire recipe)

I love rice as much as the next gal.  BUT, it contains far more calories and starch than I can justify in my 1,500-1,800 calorie daily diet.  Thank goodness that someone far smarter than me started the “riced” cauliflower movement.  I love all of the “riced” vegetables and even made a previous version of this dish with a combination of them, but I wanted the lighter color and more pure flavor of the cauliflower by itself.  I would have loved for the dish to be even more white in color, but cauliflower turns slightly yellowish when cooked.  But it is still beautiful, nutritious, and delicious.

I think I got it just right and hope you agree.

10 ounces cauliflower florets, steamed until tender (I steam it in the microwave for about 4 minutes on high)

1 can coconut milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce (sold as “vegetarian” in Asian Markets or you can make your own)

1 tablespoon coconut oil, divided (you can substitute any vegetable oil, BUT this dish made with coconut oil is indescribably more flavorful, as I tried it both ways)

1 pound riced cauliflower (I’m always in a rush, so I purchase it, but you can make your own by mincing cauliflower in the food processor until it reaches the texture of rice)

1/4 cup red bell pepper, cut into thin strips and then 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup sliced onion

1 cup sliced mushrooms

1 cup fresh peas or frozen peas thawed

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Garnish: roasted and lightly salted cashew halves and pieces; sprigs of Thai basil, mint, and/or cilantro

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Oil a shallow casserole dish, about 9 x 13″, with 1 teaspoon coconut oil.  In a food processor, puree cooked cauliflower.  Add coconut milk, cornstarch, and fish sauce and puree again until smooth.  In a large skillet, heat approximately 1 teaspoon coconut oil over medium heat. Add riced cauliflower and gently saute, stirring frequently, until tender.  Transfer to a large bowl.  Return skillet to heat and melt remaining teaspoon of coconut oil.  Add bell pepper and onion and saute, stirring, until they lose some of their crispness.  Add mushrooms and cook until moisture is released and evaporated.  Add peas, garlic, and soy sauce and saute, stirring, just until peas are heated through.  Add veggie mixture to the bowl of riced cauliflower and pour the pureed cauliflower-coconut mixture over the top.  Stir to combine thoroughly and transfer to prepared casserole dish.  Bake for 45 minutes or until top is firm.  Serve topped with a few cashews and sprigs of Thai basil, mint, or cilantro.

 

 

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Vegan Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles
Only 250 Calories Per Large Serving
5 Ingredient One-Dish Meal

Yield: 2 servings

Calories: app. 250/serving (if you are starved, enjoy the whole recipe for only 500 calories!)

The truth is, I am not passionate about food in the same way as I used to be.  BUT WAIT.  Before you think, “Well I’m certainly not going to waste my time perusing the website of someone who isn’t passionate about food,” please allow me to explain.  (If you want to skip the backstory/lecture and go straight to the recipe, just scroll down a short ways.)

For most all of my life, beginning in childhood, I obsessed about food.  My restless imagination was almost never not ruminating on new recipes or new riffs on old recipes: new ways to do things in the kitchen; better ways.  My mind was like that of a slightly mad scientist, my kitchen a laboratory where I joyfully spent hours on end.  Drive time, shower time–even yoga–it was all permeated by thoughts of food.

But then my husband  died.  And all of that changed.  A lot changed.  Food was just one of the many things on the chopping block, so to speak.  I am no longer in a full-on situational anorexic phase.  But, food quickly became and remained more of a sacrament.  Exquisite tastes to be partaken in small quantities that graces life’s other moments of meaning and transition is how I think of food.  This pasta dish, enjoyed alfresca, anointed the last day of school before exam week and acknowledged my gratitude for the beautiful place where I live happily, if a bit sobered and, certainly, changed in some profound ways.

Regarding practical considerations, my husband didn’t eat the way I do and neither does my new partner of just over a year and a half.  So I really cook for one and most recipes make far more than that, either spoiling or causing me to eat out of guilt for fear of the food spoiling.  And the disquieting truth about diet is that we Americans, especially, don’t need the quantity of food–even good, clean, wholesome food–that we desire.  And that includes vegan food.  Plus, there are ways other than standing in my kitchen that I want to spend more time now, as simple and beautiful as my recently remodeled culinary space is.

Let’s be honest: nothing about a vegan diet is necessarily low-calorie or, for that matter, even healthy.  It is absent any cholesterol for sure. And it’s a whole lot better for the animals and, possibly, the planet, though the manufacturing and packaging of processed foods presents a problem.  But, unless we choose carefully, we can end up eating a shameful American diet full of fat and sugar, albeit absent of any animal products.  It appears that many vegans simply want to eat the vegan equivalent of their pre-vegan diet of fast food and high-calorie indulgences, you know, dishes like mac-and-cheese nachos with a side of tater tots.

For the animals, I am grateful that these folks have made the switch.  For ourselves, we can do better.  And to move us a little further along that path, I offer this simple, satisfying recipe for a nutritious one-dish meal that is as quick as it is low in both fat and calories.

Vegan Thai Coconut-Kale and Peanut Noodles

1/4 cup water

8 cups baby kale (substitute spinach or a combination if you desire)

1/4 cup vegan fish sauce (sold in Asian markets as “vegetarian” fish sauce or make your own)

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (creamy or chunky works equally well)

1 8-ounce package tofu Shiratake spaghetti noodles, rinsed and drained (I use House Foods brand with only 20 calories for the entire 8 ounces, but the konnyaku type made from a yam-like tuber has 0 calories)

Garnish: 1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted cashews halves and pieces or peanuts

Optional garnish (which I love but isn’t pictured): Sprigs of Thai basil, mint, and/or cilantro

In a large skillet over medium, heat water to a simmer.  Stir in kale, 2 cups at a time, until each batch begins to wilt.  You can add it all at once, but I like the different textures derived from each handful cooking slightly less time than the one before.  Stir in vegan fish sauce, followed by peanut butter.  When sauce has come together and most of the liquid has evaporated, add noodles, and heat through, stirring to separate the strands.  Serve in bowls with chopsticks topped with cashews and peanuts and the herb of your choice.  Thai basil–so different from Italian basil–is a favorite of mine.

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Vegan Chipotle Baked Bean Open-Faced “Sammie”

This quick stir-together is an homage-with-a-twist to my late mother who would make Baked Bean Sandwiches with leftover baked beans on toasted bread.  On a trip to England, I learned this is quite British, but I am not sure if she knew.  She was just a thrifty, inventive cook.

It is better made with baked beans that have actually been baked to develop that thick, caramelized ever-so-slightly molasses-y “tar” around the edges of the pan, but straight out of the can works too.

Besides not serving the filling on ricecakes, which were as yet uninvented when I was a kid, Mother didn’t use the chipotle, cream cheese, spinach, or cilantro garnish and you don’t need to either.  It is a winning combination regardless.

Yield: 2 servings (easily multiplies)

1 cup leftover vegan baked beans OR 1-8 ounce can vegan baked beans (sold as vegetarian), with a little of juice drained off

3 celery hearts, diced

Optional, but recommended: 1 green onion, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon vegan mayo ( I recommend my tasty Blooming Platter version at 10 vs. 100 calories)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Adobo sauce from a can or jar of Chilies in Adobo (careful–this packs some heat!)

2 tablespoons vegan cream cheese

2 brown rice cakes

Approximately 16 baby spinach leaves

Garnish: vegan mayo and cilantro sprigs

Combine beans with celery, green onion, mayo, and chilies with Adobo.  Spread 1 tablespoon cream cheese on each ricecake, top with about 8 baby spinach leaves, half the bean mixture, a dollop of mayo, and a cilantro sprig.  Serve immediately.

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Vegan Bang-Bang Tofu

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t matter how you serve this dish–taco, appetizer, etc.–you will love it. In fact, you might want to just eat spoonfuls of the delectable sauce by itself.

Note:  We own a Waring Pro fryer, which is surprisingly affordable (cheap!), and I highly recommend.  

Bang-Bang Tofu

Bang-Bang Sauce (recipe follows)

Crispy Fried Tofu (recipe follows)

Optional garnishes: cilantro sprigs, lightly salted cashew halves, snipped chives or green onions; or small flour or corn tortillad and shredded cabbage if serving as tacos

To serve, either toss the cubes of fried tofu with some of the sauce and sprinkle with the garnishes of your choice; do the same, but serve in a soft taco shell with some shredded cabbage; or serve as an appetizer with a toothpick in each tofu square,  a little sauce on the side,  and the garnishes of your choice.  Be sure to prepare just before serving so that the sauce does not make the crispy tofu soggy.

Bang-Bang Sauce

2 cups vegan mayonnaise

1 cup Asian sweet chili sauce

1 tablespoon demerrera sugar

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon onion garlic powder

1 teaspoon sriracha sauce or to taste

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate.

Crispy Tofu

1 pound extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 cup unsweetened soymilk curdled with 2 teaspoons rice vinegar + 1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cornstarch

Heat 2 to 3 inches vegetable oil to 375 degrees in deep heavy-bottomed pot.  Place both the curdled soymilk and the cornstarch in separate shallow bowls. Working with 1/4 of the tofu at a time, dip the pieces first in the curdled soymilk and then coat with the cornstarch. Fry for 3 minutes or until golden brown. Drain on oaper towels.  Keep warm in a preheated 170 degree oven (or lowest temperature).

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Vegan (Microwave) Cheese Fondue

We decided to eat-in on Valentine’s Day to avoid the crowds on what a friend in the restaurant biz once referred to as “amateur night.”  But we wanted a bit of romance…maybe something we could feed each other little tastes of. Enter fondue.

After researching lots of vegan fondue recipes with potato, rutabaga, and more–and admittedly loving the rutabaga-based fondue at Vedge restaurant in Philly–all of them sounded like lots of work with questionable textures.

As with queso and all of the machinations vegans go through to create a Mexican cheese sauce causing me to wonder, “Why not just melt vegan cheese with Rotel tomatoes?,” and doing it with great success, I decided to veganize a very traditional dairy-based fondue.

I simply swapped out vegan for dairy-based cheese in a recipe by Tyler Florence and I wouldn’t change a thing about the dairy version for Bob nor the vegan version for me. Swiss is traditional, but if you can’t find vegan Swiss, cheddar is lovely too.

We own a fondue pot, but for just the two of us, we didn’t want to break it out because we didn’t want to make that large of a quantity. I wasn’t sure if microwaving would work, but a gratin dish in the mic seemed more fondue pot-like than a saucepan, and it worked beautifully.

Yield: 1 serving (easily doubles; if you double perhaps use 2 gratin dishes)

1/4 pound vegan cheddar or Swiss cheese, shredded

In a small bowl, coat the cheese with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of a small ceramic gratin dish with the cut sides of the garlic clove halves, and then discard.

Using full power in the microwave, heat the wine and lemon juice and bring to bubbling, 30 seconds or so. Stir the cheese into the liquid and heat 30 seconds at a time, whisking in between, until melted. Once cheese is melted and smooth, stir in cherry brandy, mustard, and nutmeg.

Serve immediately on a wooden cheese board or platter with dippers. Gently reheat  fondue and whisk as necessary.

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Vegan Spinach, Veggie, & Cheese Enchiladas

Yield: 8 enchiladas

Ordering vegan Mexican food in a restaurant here in Eastern Virginia is a bit tricky.  Enter my quick and easy homemade restaurant-quality vegan enchiladas.

It appears, in exchanges with other vegans, that simple foods we thought were safe–like refried beans–are not necessarily.   Apparently many restaurants still use lard in them, yet say they do not.  How much of that misunderstanding is language barrier-based, I’m not sure.  But I’d rather not take a chance.

As it turns out, these enchiladas include no beans at all.  They were inspired by spinach and goat cheese enchiladas I used to make as a vegetarian, a favorite for company from back in the day.

Vegan goat cheese in our area is expensive, so I used a combination of Tofutti cream cheese and Daiya pepper jack flavored shreds.  In addition to the baby spinach–for which you can substitute baby kale–I add a generous portion of a riced broccoli-cauliflower mix. I purchase it for convenience, but you can just pulse 4 ounces each of broccoli and cauliflower in a food processor until very finely minced.

For a sauce, feel free to make your own, but I love the Hatch brand mild green enchilada sauce.  If you are not a green sauce fan, red would be delicious too.  I was going for all green which, as it turns out, is appropriate for this Saint Patrick’s Day post if you overlook the small detail that these enchiladas are not in the least bit Irish.  But they are every bit tasty.

1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced

2 large clove garlic, minced

8 ounces riced broccoli-cauliflower mix (or make your own by pulsing 4 ounces of each in a food processor until finely minced)

8 loosely packed cups baby spinach or kale

1 teaspoon ground cumin (or more to taste)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or your favorite chili powder like Ancho (or more to taste)

4 ounces vegan creamed cheese

2 cups shredded vegan cheddar, jack, or pepper jack cheese (or a blend; I use Daiya pepper jack), divided

8 gently warmed corn tortillas

1-15 ounce jar green enchilada sauce (mild, medium, or spicy; I use Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce)

Toppings: vegan sour cream, pico de gallo, sprigs of fresh cilantro; optional: lime wedges and roasted pepitas

Oil a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish and set aside.  In a large skillet over medium heat, bring oil to shimmering.  Add onion and saute, stirring frequently, until softened.  Add garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for about 30 seconds.  Add riced vegetables and saute, again stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or so until they have softened, released their juice, and it has been evaporated.  Add spinach or kale, about 2 cups at a time, and cook, stirring, until it begins to wilt.  Repeat until all greens have been added.  Stir in cumin and smoked paprika.  Then stir in vegan cream cheese and 1 cup of the shredded cheese until melted. You can remove the skillet from the heat if mixture seems to be cooking too much, as the residual heat will melt the cheeses.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Divide mixture evenly among the 8 tortillas, spooning it in a loose rectangle in the center of each and gently folding the sides toward the center, overlapping.  Cover the bottom of the prepared casserole dish with a very thin layer of the enchilada sauce and nestle each tortilla into the dish, sides touching with folded side down.  Spoon remaining sauce over the enchiladas, spreading to cover exposed areas of tortillas.  You may or may not have sauce left over.  Sprinkle top evenly with remaining cup of shredded cheese and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve topped with sour cream, pico de gallo, and cilantro sprigs along with optional lime wedges and roasted pepitas.

 

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Cuban-Inspired Chex Mix

 

Recently, I heard an interview on NPR with Anya von Bremzen, the author of Paladares: Recipes Inspired by the Private Restaurants of Cuba, and I was completely captivated by the tales of resourcefulness, resilience, and innovation, not to mention the kinship the Russian author feels with her Cuban socialist brethren, especially in terms of hunger and deprivation.  I highly recommend.  The photos are stunning, the stories engaging, and the recipes, while not necessarily vegan, are easily veganized.

This isn’t one of them, but it is inspired by the flavors of Cuba, some of which we have learned to appreciate thanks to Juan and Barbara Gelpi.  I gifted them with this batch–though I kept a little stash (which instantly disappeared)–and Juan pronounced that it tasted “pretty Cuban,” which is quite a compliment coming from him, an accomplished vegan cook with Cuban roots.

After perusing the cookbook, I new I wanted to include the flavors of orange and cumin which featured prominently in one of the recipes.  But I also knew that I wanted to nod to their very simple staples of rice, black beans, corn, potatoes, onion, and plantains.  Granted, I ended up using an Asian black bean product, but I like some soy in my Chex Mixes and have never felt that that alone made them taste Asian, that is, unless I wanted them to and punched up the Chinese, Japanese, or Thai flavors with other ingredients.

I think you will love this addicting iteration.  It doesn’t have a lot of contrasting colors, but the flavor will more than make up for any lack of color.  For many others, just search “Chex Mix” here on The Blooming Platter.

1/2 cup vegan butter

Juice and zest of one large orange

2 tablespoons black bean garlic sauce (sold in the Asian section of the grocery store; make sure it is vegan)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

8 cups Rice Chex

6.5 oz toasted corn snacks

4.5 ounces plantain strips

4 ounces Potato Sticks

2.8 ounces crispy fried onions

1 cup roasted and salted cashews

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  While oven heats place vegan butter in a large roasting pan and place inside oven to melt butter.  Remove from oven and whisk in orange juice and zest, black bean garlic sauce, cumin, and garlic and onion powders.  Stir in remaining ingredients in order given.  Roast for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven, cool, and package in an airtight container(s).

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Vegan Crispy Brussels Sprouts Soft Tacos

Turn Brussels sprouts haters into lovers this Valentine’s Day…

This is less a vegan recipe than a tasty suggestion for enjoying shaved Brussels sprouts in an unexpected but super-easy way. Your plant-based dinner will go together in a healthy and flavorful flash.

Speaking of, I tend to stay busy and move pretty quickly in general, so to achieve the deeply charred sprouts that I favor as efficiently as possible, I crank the oven to 500 degrees and roast theshaved sprouts on a sheet pan with a lip–very lightly spritzed wirh olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper–for 15 minutes, stirring after every 5. But, adjust the temp and time to suit you.

Because I love crispy sprouts bathed in a “bee stung” Sriracha-agave sauce, I made a Sriracha sour cream and used a sweeter salsa; pineapple in my case.  But you could whisk lime juice or zest, cumin, a little chilies in Adobo or whatever sounds good to you.  And use whatever salsa you prefer.  It will be delicious.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Yield: 1 Taco (easily multiplies)

1 corn tortilla, warmed

1/4 cup roasted and lightly salted crispy roasted Brussels Sprouts, warmed

1 to 2 tablespoons grated vegan cheddar

1 to 2 tablespoons salsa

1 tablespoon vegan sour cream whisked together with 1/4 teaspoon Sriracha

Garnish: 1 teaspoon roasted and lightly salted pepitas and/or cilantro sprigs

Layer ingredients in order given on top of the warm tortilla and seve immediately. Avoid over-stuffing so the taco can be folded and picked up or serve with a knife and fork.

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Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip or Sauce
The BEST Hot Vegan Cheese Dip or Sauce
Get Your Super Bowl Game On!

This is the old school recipe my way…

And hopefully I am not posting this too late for your Super Bowl festivities.

Recently, a local vegan bakery advertised their vegan “chick-un” nugget platter with “cheese” sauce for the Super Bowl.  I was curious about the sauce because, fairly recently in researching vegan cheese sauces online, there was a baffling array of sauces made with potatoes, eggplant, cashews and more.  But I was highly skeptical and  wondered to myself at the time, “Why not just melt some vegan cheese?”   And I shied away from experimenting.  But, Friday, I purchased some of the advertised sauce on the way to school to enjoy with my lunch at my desk.  It was a nice texture and lovely color, but it tasted oddly of garlic and mustard, ingredients I have used in vegan cheese spreads, but better camouflaged than that. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t taste convincingly like cheese.

So, I looked up the old recipe from my childhood–10 ounces of Ro*tel tomatoes and 1 pound of Velveeta–and purchased some Ro*tel yesterday on my grocery store run.  The cheese I had on hand.  Velveeta is so processed that it always reminded me of what would happen if orange vinyl were sold in blocks, so I figured that vegan cheese would be a shoe-in.  This morning I melted it in the microwave with the So Delicious vegan shredded cheeses I had on hand–both cheddar and cheddar-jack–and I was right!  I needed look no further for my go-to cheese sauce.  And, shamefully, I fantasized almost all the way through my yoga class, buying some jalapeno-lime corn chips on the way home and diving in.

Granted, this is not health food folks.  It is an occasional splurge.  And with the price of vegan cheese, it’s not cheap.  But it is super simple, lightening fast, and delicious.  It contains no nuts as some cheese sauces do, but it does contain soy.  However, soy is not even a whisper of a problem for me and hopefully not for you.

Plus, I can think of a million ways to use it.  It is hard to beat, plain, as a hot dip for chips.  But why not add corn, black beans, green chilies, vegan sausage, cooked diced potato, or some of all and enjoy it as a chunkier dip, as a sauce for nachos, a filling for enchiladas, or even as a base for a casserole, say potato and Poblano?  Or simply kick it up with some cumin, coriander, chili powder, or lime juice?

While your wheels are turning, why not make a batch and munch on it with some crispy chips?

Vegan Ro*tel “Velveeta” Dip

1 10-ounce can Ro*tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, mild or spicy

1 pound shredded vegan cheese (I like So Delicious cheddar and cheddar-jack sold in 8 ounce packages)

Optional garnish: chopped fresh garnish

Place in a microwave safe bowl or a double boiler and heat until melted, stirring frequently, approximately 8 minutes.  Whisk for a smoother finished product.  Serve warm with chips and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro.

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Vegan Hazelnut-Orange Sandwich Cookies
with Chocolate Ganache Filling
a gorgeous gourmet gift from your kitchen

These stunning cookies are simple to make but will impress the most serious gourmand in both flavor and appearance.

I like to package them two to a cellophane bag, tied with raffia through a hole punched in my cute (if I do say so) business cards.

Vegan Hazelnut-Orange Sandwich Cookies

3/4 cup sugar (I use demerara)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of ground cloves

1 cup plus 6 tablespoons vegan butter, softened

3 tablespoons orange liqueur (like Triple Sec) or 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

6 ounces vegan semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat. Spread 1/4 cup hazelnuts in a skillet or pie plate and toast for about 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown.

In a food processor, pulse the remaining 1/2 cup hazelnuts with 2 tablespoons sugar intil finely ground. Add the flour, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, salt, and the remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar and pulse to combine well. Add 1 cup butter, broken into hunks, and orange liqueur and pulse until the dough comes together.

On a lightly floured surface, working with half of dough at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick. Using a 1 1/2- to 2-inch cookie cutter, cut cookies out as closely together as possible. Place cookies on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Repeat with remaining half of dough, gently kneading in scraps from first half. Gather scraps from second half, gently knead, and reroll scraps from second half.

Bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly colored but the tops are still fairky light, rotating pans after 10 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and allow to cool.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate with the remaining 6 tablespoons butter, whisking until smooth. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and let cool for 10 minutes.

Turn half the cookies over and spoon a small dollop of the chocolate in the center of each of those. Dip the remaining cookies halfway into the chocolate and position over the filled bottoms, pressing gently to seal. Sprinkle the remaining chopped toasted hazelnuts onto the chocolate, pressing gently if necessary, and let the sandwich cookies stand for about 30 minutes until the chocolate is set.  Chill if packaging or transporting.

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