Hazelnuts bring a dual level of flavor and crunch to these Chocolate Meringue Hazelnut Cookies through use of both a chocolate-hazelnut spread and finely chopped hazelnuts applied to the exterior. When applied to the base of a meringue-styled cookie—with the chocolate-hazelnut spread forming the primary flavor note of the cookie, folded into the batter—the end result has simultaneous impressions of lightness and indulgence.

Hazelnut spread—widely popularized by category leader Nutella—has seen significant traction in recent years. When NetBase, Mountain View, CA, released its 2015 “Brand Passion Report,” derived from the level of global buzz any given chocolate-related brand was generating on social media, Nutella took the No. 2 spot. Consumers love the indulgence of chocolate-hazelnuts spreads, and are cooking with them more often, with NetBase reporting strong social-media mentions of Nutella Chocolate Doughnuts, Nutella Chocolate Lava Cake, Nutella Truffles and Nutella Chocolate Sandwich Cookies.

To dig further into the appeal of hazelnuts, the Turkish Hazelnut Promotion Group commissioned the “Data Scoop” independent study in April 2014, notes Steve Bryant, U.S. marketing director, Turkish Hazelnut Promotion Group, Seattle. The data was collected from consumers ages 18–64 who ate nuts in the past few months. It includes 1,000 random surveys, thereby providing a sample that’s consistent with the U.S. population.

Results of the survey show that consumers today have strong interest in exotic ingredients like hazelnuts, with 82 percent of nut eaters saying they want to try new and interesting ingredients. Hazelnuts were seen as the “most-premium nut,” with hazelnuts bringing an upscale positioning to foods that contain them.

Hazelnuts also contain a fantastic array of nutrients to support everyday wellness. As a snack nut, they are nutrient-dense and provide protein. Consumers consider nuts a healthy option, and when hazelnuts are used as an inclusion in products, they lend a “health halo.”

These Chocolate Meringue Hazelnut Cookies capitalize on the forward-trending popularity of chocolate-hazelnut spreads, while offering visual appeal via the chopped hazelnuts applied to the finished product.

For more information, visit www.hazelnutsfromturkey.com/about/the-turkish-hazelnut-promotion-group.

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