½ cup butter, softened
½ cup sugar
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2 squares (1 ounce each) semisweet chocolate, melted
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup finely chopped hazelnuts
16 milk caramels
2½ tablespoons whipping cream
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
In a large bowl, beat butter with electric mixer until creamy and then add sugar and mix until well blended. Add melted chocolate and egg yolk, beating until incorporated. Stir in vanilla.
In another bowl, combine flour, soda and salt; add to butter mixture, beating well. Cover and chill dough until firm, at least 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two or three cookie sheets.
When ready to bake, bring dough to room temperature. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll in chopped hazelnuts. (If you want a heavy coating of nuts, you can coat the ball with the egg white, letting excess drip off, and then roll in nuts). Place balls 1½-inches on prepared pans. Press thumb gently in center of balls to flatten, leaving a depression. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set.
Meanwhile, combine caramels and whipping cream in top of a double boiler over simmering water and stir until mixture is melted and smooth.
Remove cookies from oven and cool slightly; press center of each cookie again. Quickly spoon caramel mixture into the depression in each cookie. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool.
Melt 2/3 cup chocolate in a double boiler or microwave. Cool to warm and then pour into a heavy-duty sealable plastic bag. Seal and snip a tiny hole in one corner of the bag. Drizzle chocolate over cookies and let stand until set, about 30 minutes.
Makes 24-30 cookies.