…is a task that’s dreaded among bakers. Probably why we tend to save hazelnut desserts for really really special occasions. I myself remember my twin sister making a hezelnut torte when we were high schoolers. She peeled each individual toasted nut by hand. Ouch. Happily we’re older and wiser now, and much better at peeling nuts.
If there’s one trick to peeling hazelnuts it’s this: when they’re done toasting (on a sheet pan in a 275-degree oven for half an hour) roll them hot into the center of a kitchen towel…
….then them fold up in the towel and let the nuts steam for 10 minutes. This will get the skins quite a bit looser than simply leaving them out to cool on the pan.
Then unfold the towel so there’s just a single layer of fabric covering the hazelnuts and roll as you normally would. Back and forth, side to side, in circular motions, applying plenty of pressure to get as much of the skin off as you can.
Not all the skin will come off, but as Stuart Smalley says (or did before he decided to run for congress in Minnesota): that’s OK.
If you find you’re still having difficulty with some tough nuts, try separating the trouble makers out from the others and rolling them together (skin-on-skin friction helps). If in the end they won’t cooperate it’s OK to use them they are (that’s how people know your cake is homemade).
UPDATE: Reader Joe says:
If your really want completely clean hazelnuts, add 10% more nuts before roasting and keep the 10% most stubborn nuts as a family snack. This solution is a lot easier plus I score points with the family.