How does she do it? Cheating of course. My secrets for deceptively fancy holiday cookies. 

By Dawn Perry
December 05, 2018
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Johnny Miller

My Nutella Cones with Hazelnut Praline are the type of easy-to-make, destined-to-impress shortcut cookie recipe this (and every) holiday season needs. They’re inspired by the Nutty Buddy, an ice cream filled, chocolate dipped, peanut sprinkled number. But seeing as it’s December, an ice cream filling isn't appropriate. So, I swapped the frozen stuff for Nutella, threw in a few other pre-made shortcuts, and came up with the fanciest, easiest cookies I’ve ever made. And they're no-bake to boot. 

Instead of making every part from scratch, I put together a cookie shortcut dream team. The result? A stunning and stunningly simple cookie guaranteed to make you the countess of the cookie swap.

Don't tell anybody, but these are my secret shortcuts:  

The Cone

A simple sugar cone offers the same slightly sweet, cracker-like experience of my first favorite snack, Barnum’s Animal Crackers. They're just the right texture and not-too-sweet base for what becomes a decadent finished product. I ordered these mini cones from amazon.com (actually, looks like I got the last box!) but you can use a serrated knife to trim the tops off of regular-sized sugar cones. Use the leftover cone bits in place of graham crackers for a delicious press-in crust. (Try it in this sweet potato pie.)

The Creamy Center

Nutella behaves a little like a homemade ganache—a spreadable mixture of chocolate and cream often used to fill truffles or no-bake pies. It holds its shape but stays pliable at room temperature making it the perfect shortcut filling for my (alternate name) Winter BuddiesTM. For extra texture, I folded in a handful of toasted hazelnuts but you could use toasted almonds or salted peanuts if you want. The nutty filberts help balance the sweetness of the Nutella but if you’re a No Nuts Person you can leave them out.

The Crispy Shell

To create the crispy outer shell, I made a homemade version of “Magic Shell”—an easy-to-make combo of chopped chocolate and coconut oil—but you could definitely use the pre-made stuff.

The shell does two things: first, it lines the cones with a water-tight chocolate seal. Without this coating, the cones get soggy as they soak up moisture from the Nutella filling. You can skip it, but the cones will lose their crunch after about 8 hours. Once your cones are filled with the nutty Nutella mixture, you’ll dip the finished bites in more magic shell to contain the gooey interior.

The Sparkle

Crushed hazelnut praline adds a sparkly finish to these otherwise brown on brown treats. I made a homemade praline but you can use store-bought candied nuts (or those rectangular sesame candies) for a similar effect. Or, skip the molten sugar part and top the cones with more chopped nuts. Just be sure to add them while that outer coating of magic shell is slightly tacky so they stick.

And if all this still feels too fancy, tie a big ribbon around your favorite box and call it a (holi)day. For more homemade cookie inspiration, check out some of our favorite cookie recipes here.