Indianers: Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Custard and Chocolate Ganache

Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Custard and Ganache

Photo by Dorothy of Schockingly Delicious

Something miraculous occurs to me every time I taste a combination of hazelnuts and chocolate. I fall into a sensory overload, remembering the days of my childhood when I felt comforted and safe, as the warm smell of roasted nuts greeted me at the kitchen door, and adventurous summers of my early teenage years when the boys vied for my attention bribing me with boxes of Eurocream, a Serbian version of Nutella. Tthe aftermath was not as romantic, as I gained ten pounds in one month; but, oh, it was so well worth it!)

Both my mother and grandmother were talented bakers. When the holiday season started in Fall, they would put away their differences and join elbows in order to create the tastiest tiny morsels in town. Each celebration ended with vintage platters lined with dozens of perfectly shaped desserts, small enough to fit into your mouth in one ladylike bite, and allowing you to taste as many without feeling like you were overindulging.

For days, my sister, my brother, and I would be tempted by warm and comforting smells coming from the oven, as the rows of sweets multiplied on the tables throughout the house. We raced Father for the scraps, the cut-off edges, and occasional slightly burned and misshapen specimens. We begged Mother to pass us a few bites behind her back, risking Njanja’s wrath after her usual daily counting duty, but were able to fully enjoy the offerings only after the guests have gone home, leaving us more than enough sweet bounty for several days to come.

I never had a favorite, but throughout the years, a few desserts rose above the others and I reluctantly started to make them in my own kitchen, wanting my girls to experience at least a small part of my excitement. The two younger ones have never met Njanja, and visited Mother only in the summer. They learned to appreciate their grandmother’s culinary skills, but did not have a chance to try her petit fours first hand. My baking skills cannot compare to hers, but they don’t know that, as all they know are the stories.

I have mastered a few of Njanja’s and Mother’s recipes in the last twenty years and even though I know very well how tedious and tiring the whole process will be, I make the sweets nevertheless, feeling the connection to these formidable women who shaped me, knowing that I’ll see the smiles of enjoyment on my children’s faces.

One of their favorites has always been the Indianers, hazelnut shortbread sandwich cookies with custard and chocolate ganache. I have tried to figure out why they were named Indianers, and the only explanation that comes to mind is that the top, dipped in dark ganache, looks like an Indian’s head wrapped in a turban. Almost.

I made Indianers for our annual Food Bloggers of Los Angeles group cookie exchange meeting. As they yield a lot, I took a couple of dozen to a Bunco game, and it made me feel good when they disappeared instantly. My blogger friends seemed to enjoy them as well, and I felt really proud of myself, knowing that I am continuing the tradition, without betraying the ardor, skill, and creativity of my mother who tried to teach us to strive for the best, to challenge ourselves, and to be kind and giving to the people around us.

FBLA Cookie Exchange

Thanks, Dorothy, for making my cookie tin so photogenic!



Shortbread pastry:

  • ¾ cups (200gr) sugar
  • 2 sticks (300gr) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 8 oz (250gr) roasted hazelnuts, ground
  • 1 ¼ cups (300gr) all-purpose flour


  • 5 eggs
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¾ cup (12 Tbsp) sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 sticks (350gr) unsalted butter


  • 6 oz bitter-sweet chocolate
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp milk


Shortbread Pastry:

Cream sugar and butter with a hand-held mixer until combined. Add egg yolks, one by one, until mixed in. In a separate bowl stir together ground hazelnuts and flour. Stir dry ingredients into the butter mixture until well combined. Flatten into a disc and chill for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

On a lightly floured surface flatten the dough with a rolling pin to 1/8 inch thick. Cut small circles using 1-inch cookie cutter (or a metal top of a booze bottle, as my mother would use). Place the cookies on a cookie sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly browned. Let the cookies cool on the sheet for five minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.


Whisk the eggs and egg whites together until foamy and light. Add the sugar and stir in a double boiler on low heat until thickened, 20-30 minutes (a wooden spoon would leave a trail when dragged on the bottom of the pot). Let the custard cool completely and only then whip the butter in.


In a double boiler melt chocolate and butter. Stir in the milk.


Place about ½ tsp of filling on top of one cookie. Form a pyramid of filling in the center of the cookie using the spoon, place another cookie on top and press lightly to evenly disperse the custard.

Line the assembled sandwich cookies on a cookie sheet.

When all the cookies have been put together, dip each one in ganache, making sure that only the top part is covered with chocolate. Place the cookies on a tray and let them cool. Keep in the fridge for 1 week, or freeze for several months in an air-proof container.

14 Responses to Indianers: Hazelnut Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Custard and Chocolate Ganache

  1. Jelena says:

    Lana, ja sam mislila da su to išleri a indijaneri su oni koji liče na indijanske šatore, tj. belanca koja idu u vis pa sve to pokriveno čokoladom, a na dnu malo testa. Išleri, indijaneri ili kako god divno mi je to što si rekla i pogodila pravo u metu zašto pravimo po receptima onih koje volimo, veza.

    • Lana says:

      Ja ne znam za te druge indijanere, mada zvuče super:) Ovi si vrlo mali kolačići, i deo su svih mojih praznika. I imena se prenose sa kolena na koleno ili igrom glucih telefona ponekad! Ko zna Å¡ta se sve izgubi i pomeÅ¡a u “prenosu”:)

  2. Ri says:

    Hi, Lana, you forgot to mention the butter in a preparation of custard filling. You have it in the list of ingredients for the custard. You probably beat the butter with cooled custard.

  3. Hi Lana, these look like divine little morsels,,,,I love hazelnuts & chocolate so perfect for me :) I hope you & yours are having a wonderful Christmas! Happy Holidays xx

  4. sippitysup says:

    I’m so sorry I missed these. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. XOGREG

  5. my blog says:

    But a smiling visitor here to share the love (:, btw outstanding style and design .

  6. Jamie says:

    Those look quite lovely!! very mouth watering to me

  7. amee says:

    I absolutely love the variety i see here. Thanks for linking to them here. This looks like a quite dangerous party!!!! it always seems like our cooking/baking doesn’t turn out quite like what we remember or doesn’t reflect the flawless talent of our mothers, but the important part is to pass on the tradition and allow it to be the vehicle of your memories.

  8. Monet says:

    Hazelnut and chocolate truly are magical. And this recipe looks heavenly. I loved seeing your box of cookies. So much fun to swap and share!

  9. Hi Lana! Happy New Year. Sorry for the long absence in commenting. I don’t know where the time has gone. Your cookies look absolutely divine! I adore cookies and especially those that take a little extra effort. I am pinning these (I just finally figured out how to use Pinterest…LOL) for sure. I hope all is well and wish you and your girls a happy and healthy new year!

  10. Lana, I am not at all surprised those cookies disappeared in an instant. Chocolate and hazelnut is such a winning combination, and I have no doubt at all that your mother would have been so proud of you continuing this tradition.

    Hope you and your girls had a lovely Christmas, and a gazillion good wishes my friend for the new year.

    Sue xo

  11. I loved those cookies! And they were so beautiful as well.

  12. Vaximilian says:

    Isleri ili indijaneri ili padobranci, meni je totalno svejedno. Bitno da ima da se klopa. Super je! (proveravam da li mogu da ti stavim koment)

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