Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Food: Hazelnut Biscotti

Perhaps in an attempt to connect with our meager (but still present) Italian roots, or perhaps due to our love of (multiple) oversize cappuchinos every morning, biscotti have long been present in my house; you can always find some tucked away in a tin, where they have usually been residing for several months. Luckily though, properly made biscotti do have a shelf life of "several months" (although with the heat and humidity Middletown has experienced in the past month, I might be a little more than hesitant about biting so eagerly into a June biscotti). Their ability to keep so well may be the reason they have taken root in America and across the world; sailors took them with them wherever they went. Thus the biscotti has spread from its native homeland with such success, you can find them in all shapes and forms from Paris to Eugene, OR. Every coffee shop has their own variation-dipped in chocolate, studded with candied fruit, glazed with a simple syrup-the possibilities are endless. 
This artisanal cookie can be made with minimal work and is sure to bring praise from all whom you share it with. The key is to make sure you let the log cool completely before cutting (to ensure it doesn't crumble) and to not skimp on the cooking time for the actual cookies; they need this time to dry out and harden into dippable pieces of goodness. I found it useful to cook the logs in the evening, let them cool overnight, and slice and cook in the morning; giving you warm, crisp cookies just in time for your coffee. 
This recipe I found on the wonderful and entertaining food blog Smitten Kitchen, but I went back to the original source (Bon Appétit) and tweaked it a little bit. (see more for recipe)

Hazelnut Biscotti
Adapted from Bon Appétit December, 1999 
3 1/4 c flour
1 Tbl baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 c sugar
10 Tbl (1 1/4 sticks) butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 Tbl vanilla extract
2 tsp orange extract (or 1 Tbl orange liqueur)
1 cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts
1 egg white

Spread chopped hazelnuts on a baking sheet, and turn oven to broil. Bake, stirring every 30 sec, for approximately 2-3 minutes, or until just starting to brown. Remove and allow to cool, peheat oven to 350º.
Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into medium bowl. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla extract, and orange extract in large bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir with wooden spoon until well blended. Mix in hazelnuts.
Divide dough in half. Using floured hands, shape each dough half into 13 1/2-inch-long, 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Transfer both logs to prepared baking sheet, spacing apart. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush over top and sides of each dough log.
Bake logs until golden brown (logs will spread), about 30 minutes. Cool logs completely on sheet on rack, about 25 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.
Transfer logs to work surface; leave parchment paper on baking sheet. Using a sharp knife (I prefer non-serated, the cookies didn't crumble and they looked neater), cut logs on diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange slices on baking sheet. Bake 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over; bake until just beginning to color, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

1 comment:

Tree Fanatic said...

I recently saw "soft" biscotti for sale in a coffee shop. I guess they are for the faint of heart -- or weak of jaw. Here's a question for any Italian-speakers who read this: does anyone ever order a biscotto or a panino? Is this a case of a lost singular?