Thursday, July 24, 2008

chocolate hazelnut biscotti

chocolate hazelnut biscotti

Last week I stumbled into my new favorite coffee shop for The Latest Morning Coffee, Ever because I am still adjusting to this new schedule of having “everything” but also “anything” to do at any given time.

espresso powder

[One of these days I’ll get into all of these changes–the way that I stomp on the grave of business casual attire; the fact that, yes, I still get up early each day and shower and put on mascara; oh, and more relevantly to this site, the breakfasts and lunches I put together (that is, once I get past the yogurt and PB&J sandwich phase, though no promises that will be be happening any time soon)–but for now, suffice it to say that I am still in the Adjustment Phase… Hence the 12:30 p.m. “morning coffee.”]

biscotti batter
so, so so sticky

As it was obviously time for lunch–but still, my internal screams for delicious, bitter, cold coffee demanded to be placated–my stomach was grumbling as I walked in, and I had zero resistance when my hand literally bumped into the jar of chocolate-hazelnut biscotti while going to order a much-more-earnest skim latte. And while that wee biscotti was quite delicious, especially once dunked* in my coffee, it served to remind me that I am so overdue to make a batch of real biscotti.

no good at skinning hazelnutsready for first bake

What do I mean by “real” biscotti? What’s so wrong with the almond and parmesan-black pepper versions I’ve told you about before? Pretty much, while you can still call them biscotti–biscotti meaning “twice baked” which they indeed are–they’re not the type of biscotti you’d get in Italy because they have butter in them–making them more cookie-like–rather than just eggs as a binder–making them snappier and more dunking*-friendly.

They’re also generally less sweet and with have significantly less fat in them, if you’re into those kinds of bathing-suit-season-friendly things.

chocolate hazelnut biscotti
chocolate hazelnut biscotti

* I am lying and Alex has called me on it. I don’t dunk things. I have an issue with crumbs floating in beverages, even Oreo crumbs in a glass of milk. I am obviously dead inside. What I meant to say is that I am sure it would be delicious if you dunked it in coffee, if your name isn’t Deb and you are not brimming with neurosis.

One year ago: Pearl Couscous with Olives and Roasted Tomatoes

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Adapted from The New York Times, 12/12/93

This New York Times recipe is as old as time. I wish I could tell you how many recipes for biscotti I dug through before finding a couple that didn’t have butter in them, but I’m not sure I can even count that high. Suffice it to say, it took me to an article from 1993, a year that biscotti were all the rage but probably not for me as I was in … high school. (Sob.)

They are mildly sweet and chocolaty–they’re the exact opposite of a molten chocolate cake on the indulgent chocolate obsession sliding scale. They’re also quite easy to put together if you promise to watch out for one thing: this is the stickiest dough I have ever worked with and you cannot have too much flour down on your surface.

Total time: 1 hour
Makes about 60 biscotti

1 cup whole hazelnuts, preferably blanched
2 1/2 cups flour, plus flour for work surface
1/2 cup Dutch-style cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. If hazelnuts are not blanched, toast them until the skins begin to crack, then remove them from oven and wrap them in clean linen or cotton towel (not terrycloth). Rub hot nuts to remove most of the skin. Set toasted nuts aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.

3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough.

4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface. (She is not kidding about this.) With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.

5. Place in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until firm to the touch. (This took me until 20 to 25 minutes.) Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. (I found that letting them cool for five minutes made this easier, as well as a sharp knife with a tight serrate.) Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, until they are crisp and dry. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving.


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