Package a dozen of these cookies in decorative plastic bags or cellophane from a craft store, and present with high-quality coffee beans. Make sure to use a heavy-duty stand mixer for this recipe's very stiff dough.
1/2 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes, stirring once. Turn nuts out onto a towel. Roll up towel; rub off skins. Chop nuts.
Pour wine in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute. Add cherries, and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain well.
Place sugar and chocolate in a food processor; process until chocolate is finely ground.
Place vanilla, egg, and egg yolk in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended (about 1 minute). Add sugar mixture; beat 1 minute.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour and remaining ingredients, and stir with a whisk. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture, beating until blended. Add hazelnuts and cherries; beat just until blended. (The dough will be very stiff.) Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly several times. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into an 8-inch-long roll. Place rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; pat each roll to a 1-inch thickness. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and cool on a baking sheet for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
Cut each roll diagonally into 12 slices. Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake an additional 10 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Cool completely on wire rack.