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Acting on a whim (Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti)

Strangely, I’d never really wondered how biscotti were made. They haven’t ever really interested me as a food—I like my cookies and breads soft and gooey, not teeth-shattering.

Then one Sunday evening last month, I was minding my own business, watching TV and browsing Pinterest, and I got this sudden, strong compulsion to make biscotti. It was seriously weird.

So I began searching for biscotti recipes on Pinterest and also just online overall, bookmarking a few that looked interesting. But I was hampered somewhat by the ingredients I had on hand. For instance, I didn’t have almonds at home, and most of the recipes called for them. Then I found this gem of a recipe, and I was immediately hooked:  chocolate hazelnut biscotti.

Strangely, I DID have hazelnuts on hand—my mom had given me some frozen hazelnut bits quite some time ago—so I decided it was fate, and set to work.

Biggest thing we learned from biscotti-making experiment? I have no actual concept of what a half-inch is.

Turns out, the basic premise of biscotti is that you bake it twice, which makes it crunchier and harder than a regular cookie or bread. And now you know.

Preheat oven to 350. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast for about three minutes. If you’re using whole hazelnuts, rub the outsides once cool enough (to remove the skins), chop into pieces and set aside (I used pre-chopped).

Reduce oven heat to 325. Beat the butter in a mixer for two minutes, then add the sugar in a steady stream for another two minutes. It should be good and fluffy at this point.

Add two of the eggs, continuing to beat the mixture. You’ll probably have to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is combined well. Go ahead and add the vanilla and almond extracts too.

Next, add in the dry ingredients—flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Mix just until it’s combined (don’t need to keep stirring).

Finally, add the nuts in and lightly stir in.

And now you have dough. Lay the dough out on a lightly floured surface.

Split the dough in two and shape into logs. The recipe I was following said they should be approximately 2 inches in diameter. Personally, I have no real idea of what that is, so I wung it (“wung” being the past tense of “wing” in my world).

HOWEVER. This I did figure out after the fact—while it says “logs” (which makes me think generally round and even), it seems smarter to make them flatter and wider vs. perfectly cylindrical. Reason is, once you slice these babies up, if they’re round then the biscotti themselves will be fat, and they won’t cook all the way through (so they won’t get crunchy, they’ll be kind of doughy or soft).

Place them on a baking sheet. I used parchment paper to make sure they didn’t stick.

Use your remaining egg to make an egg wash (egg and a tiny bit of water), then brush both logs with it. Sad to waste the rest, so maybe make a tiny omelette?

Bake for about 25-35 minutes. I definitely was on the longer end of that, because you want them set, nice and solid. They definitely should be cooked all the way through. If they’re not, leave them in for a couple more minutes. Unlike most of the other things I bake, which I prefer a little underdone and gooey, that would defeat the purpose of biscotti and make them very hard to slice…

…which is the next step. Let the logs cool on a wire rack for about five minutes, then slice on the diagonal (an instruction I clearly ignored) in 1/2-inch slices. Again, I have no concept of a half-inch, but I’m thinking these are maybe closer to an inch?

Place the pieces back on the baking sheet, on the cut sides.

Bake for an additional 5-10 minutes [Update: really more like 10 minutes or so each side, and up the temperature to 350], til they’re nice and toasted. Let cool and serve or store in an airtight container.

Due to the aforementioned thickness, mine were a little softer and chewier than traditional biscotti, so they weren’t quite as suited for actually dunking in my morning espresso. But they made a nice treat alongside. And they were gone within 24 hours at work (not gonna lie, though, I probably ate half of them).

Update: I re-made these for Thanksgiving, made them much thinner and baked them longer once they were sliced (about 10 minutes on each side, at 350).

Chocolate-Halzelnut Biscotti

  • 1/2 cup of hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup of unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • 2 large eggs, plus 1 extra for the egg wash
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of cocoa powder

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place the hazelnuts, in a single layer, on a baking sheet and toast them for about three minutes. Transfer the nuts to a towel and rub them together to remove most of their skins (if you’re using whole hazelnuts).

2. Roughly chop the hazelnuts if needed and set them aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

3. Put the softened butter in the mixer bowl and beat for 2 minutes. Steadily add the sugar and beat for another two minutes (until pale and fluffy). Continue beating as you add two of the eggs, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed, and add the almond and vanilla extracts. Next, add the flour, baking powder, cocoa powder and salt, and beat until the mixture is just combined. Last, stir in the nuts.

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into two equal portions, and shape each into a log approximately two inches in diameter. From my experience, you should make them flatter and wider vs. round, as this will make the biscotti the appropriate shape and thickness.

5. Place the two logs on the baking sheet, side by side. In a small bowl, prepare the egg wash by beating the third egg with a fork and maybe adding the tiniest bit of water. Brush the logs with the egg wash and bake for about 25-35 minutes. They should feel pretty set when you touch them, baked all the way through. If in doubt, let them bake for a few more minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and let cool for about fifteen minutes on a wire rack. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and carefully cut them into 1/2-inch thick pieces (on the diagonal to make them even prettier). If you choose to cut your slices thicker, just know that the biscotti will be less crispy and more cookie-like. Increase the oven temperature to 350. Put the pieces back on the baking sheet, cut side up/down, and bake for another 10-15 minutes on each side (until they are crispy). Allow the biscotti to cool. They should keep in a tightly sealed container for at least a week.

Original recipe here:  http://www.turntablekitchen.com/2012/03/chocolate-hazelnut-biscotti-these-meanderings/

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Comments

  1. Aww, Fantastic! This is so well done! =)

    Like

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