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Foolproof way to remove hazelnut skins

Decided to make Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake from Suzanne Goins' Sunday Suppers at Lucques this morning, and after trying a new (to me) way of skinning hazelnuts I wanted to share it with y'all.

Found it in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Pie and Pastry Bible, who was taught the method by Carl Sontheimer, of Cuisinarts fame.

For 1/2 cup of nuts, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of baking soda and the nuts and boil them for 3 minutes. The water will turn black from the nut skins. Rinse the nuts well under cold running water, then use your fingers to remove the skins. The skins slip right off, easy as can be. I put the nuts on a kitchen towel as I removed each skin, rubbed them a bit to make sure they were dry, and then toasted them in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

This method works! I've tried the other methods that entail toasting the nuts and rubbing them in various ways to remove the skin, but none remove all the skin like the boiling water and baking soda from Sontheimer. Not one bit of skin remained.

BONUS: When I added the baking soda to the boiling water it spit something furious, spitting a soda/water spray over my ceramic cooktop, which once wiped away left the cooktop sparkling with no effort. Beats all the other cooktop cleaners I've been using to try to get rid of the last little bit of stain.

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  1. This is a great tip. Thanks. Doing hazelnuts the usual way is such a pain!

    1. Thanks, jannie. Now I can get excited about the skinless hazelnut recipes I've been avoiding!

      1 Reply
      1. re: bear

        It's a great method, but I have to confess to becoming more lenient w/ myself about hazelnut skins and have not noticed any deterioration in the cakes I've made!

      2. Thanks for the public service!

        1. Best tip is on cleaning stove top!

          1. Thanks! I made pecan caramel tartlets today because I didn't want to bother with skinning hazelnuts - now I can try the recipe the way it was written :)

            Thanks for the tip about cleaning the cooktop too...sounds like it's easier/cheaper than Ceramabryte.