I have always been a big coffee drinker. Since the age of thirteen, I have had at least two cups of coffee a day (minus those months of pregnancy 8 years ago) and biscotti is the perfect accompaniment to that steamy cup of joe. It’s crunchy and sweet; dipping it into your coffee gives you that grown up version of milk and cookies. It just so happens that the coffee of choice in our household is…yup, you guessed it…hazelnut. We freshly grind the beans before each pot. It’s no wonder that I wanted to try this recipe for Hazelnut Biscotti (page 315) from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking with Julia.
Biscotti are twice baked cookies or biscuits that originated in Prato, Italy. They were twice baked and therefore dry, so they could be stored for longer periods of time. In Italy and parts of Spain, they are more commonly served with wine as an after dinner dessert.
Hazelnuts are full of protein and rich in unsaturated fat, thiamine and vitamin B6. About 75% of all the cultivated hazelnuts come from Turkey. They also come from Italy and Greece and in America, they are produced in the states of Oregon and Washington.
I was chosen as a host for this week’s Tuesday’s with Dorie, so I have the honor of displaying the recipe on my blog. Please check out the Tuesday’s with Dorie blog for other member’s versions of biscotti. Especially if you are not a fan of hazelnut, there will surely be something for everyone. Some tips that I found to be helpful were: Use a stainless steel pot for boiling the nuts, so as not to stain other metals and wet your hands when shaping the logs. Make sure not to over toast the nuts or you will end up with a burnt flavor.
I strictly followed the recipe and was rewarded with a delightfully crunchy and flavorful cookie.
Hazelnut Biscotti from Baking with Julia (contributing baker- Alice Medrich)
- 2 cups water
- 3 tablespoons baking soda
- 2/3 cup unblanched (raw) hazelnuts
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sugar
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F.
Preparing the Nuts- To skin the hazelnuts, bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the baking soda and the nuts, and boil for 3-5 minutes, until the water turns black. To test if the skins have loosened sufficiently, drop a nut into a bowl of cold water and rub lightly against the skin- if the skin just slides off, the nuts are ready to go. Turn the nuts into a colander and run cold water over them. Slip off the skins, toss the nuts onto a towel, pat dry, and transfer to a jelly-roll pan.
Place the pan in the oven and toast the nuts, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The best way to test for total toastiness is to bite into a nut- it should be brown to the center. Remove the nuts from the oven and cool. Lower the oven temperature to 300F.
When the nuts are cool enough to handle, coarsely chop them and set them aside.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and reserve until needed.
Making the Dough- Put the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and whisk just to blend. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar. Add the dry ingredients to the liquid and stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add the nuts and continue to mix, just until well incorporated. (Since the dough is stiff, sticky, and hard to stir, you might find it easier just to reach in and mix it with your hands.)
Flour your hands and lift half of the dough onto one side of the parchment-lined baking sheet. Pat and squeeze the dough into a chubby log 12 to 13 inches long. Don’t worry about being neat or smoothing the dough- it will even out as much as it needs to in the oven. Repeat with the other half of the dough, leaving about 3 inches between the logs.
First Baking- Bake the logs for exactly 35 minutes. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let cool for at least 10 minutes. At this point, the logs can remain on the pan overnight, if that’s more convenient for you.
Second Baking- Using a serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2 inch thick slices, cutting straight across or diagonally. (You can make the biscotti thinner or thicker, as you wish, and adjust the baking time accordingly.) Lay the biscotti on their sides on a cooling rack- you may need to use a second rack- the place the cooling rack in the 300F oven, directly on an oven rack. (Baking the biscotti like this allows the oven’s heat to circulate around the cookies, so there’s no need to turn them over.) The cookies may need to bake for as long as 15 minutes, but it’s a good idea to start checking them after about 10 minutes. When the biscotti are golden brown, dry and crisp, remove the cooling racks from the oven. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before packing them for storage.
Storing- The cookies will keep in an airtight container for about a month.
The batter with toasted hazelnuts
Logs after the first baking
On racks ready for the second baking