Totenbeinli (Hazelnut Fingers)


I kept wanting cookies, but at the store I’d either forget or promise myself to make some at home, so at least I would have control over the ingredients. And finally I just had to make the time! I love hazelnuts, in an y form I can get them, and these cookies rely heavily on just that. It’s not juts the flavor, I guess it has as much to do with the memories. Of outdoor adventures and hikes with my family.

Memories of my Dad making flutes out of fresh sprouted hazel twigs in early spring, when the sap just started rushing back up from the roots to make the buds sprout and give life to the plant, then in the summer the nuts would still be green, not quite ripe yet, and we’d sometimes cut small branches  (they are perfectly straight) for grilling sausage over an open camp fire for lunch out on a hike, then in early fall, the nuts would start to turn brown inside their green frilly frock and you knew they would be ready soon!

The great thing about these cookies, just like biscotti, they keep for quite some time. That is, i you can keep from eating them. Since they are crunchy all the way through they don’t go hard and stale like chewy cookies often do, (then again maybe I just don’t eat those other ones quick enough?)


These can range from crunchy to totally hard, but they keep, like forever (or until someone with less self control finds out where they are kept). Sort of similar to a biscotti. As per my research (thank you apparently the strange name (Toten= Dead,  Bein=Bones) comes from a custom that was mentioned first around 1500, where these would be served after a funeral. People did not have much and would save luxury items such as sugar, hazelnuts and such things for special occasions, later lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves were added and the cookie is now often made during Christmas time.  Although I remember our local grocery store carrying these in big (maybe not for American standards 😉 ) 500 gr bags all year long. I have pretty drastically reduced the sugar from my original recipe, but I think next time I will try and use even less, they are still plenty sweet!

Oh and just today, I got the local bulk store to turn some hazelnuts into hazelnut butter for me, so watch out world, I can see more Hazelnut recipes in my near future 😉



  • 1/3 cup butter, unsalted, softened
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1/2 lemon, grated peel only
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 dash ground cloves
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cups unblanched hazelnut flour/meal/ground hazelnuts
  • 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts
  • 2 cups flour



  1. Toast hazelnuts for a few minutes, then place on a kitchen towel and rub until some of the skins come off, set aside
  2. Stir sugar into softened butter until well mixed
  3. Add 2 eggs and lemon zest, spices, salt and ground hazelnuts, then add flour.
  4. Once everything is well blended, add the whole hazelnuts and stir.
  5. Let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes
  6. Preheat oven to 380ºF
  7. On a flour dusted surface, roll out to a little under 1/2″ thickness and cut into 1/2″ by about 3″ pieces using a bread knife to get easily through the whole hazelnuts.
  8. Place cookies on a lined baking sheet and brush with the lightly beaten remaining egg, bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden brown and crisp all the way through.

imageMakes lots of cookies, but they’re eaten so quickly


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