Well, aren’t I the lucky one—I get to be one of the hosts for today’s Tuesday's With Dorie recipe from Baking With Julia. When I saw that biscotti was one of our recipe this month, I threw in my vote to host because I love biscotti. I was happy to be chosen to host. I’m hosting along with Jodi of Homemade and Wholesome. Check out her biscotti, she’ll have the recipe posted, too. I’ve mentioned before, but the “old” shows of Baking With Julia are on my local PBS station every Saturday and I record them. It is so great to see some of the episodes where we are making or have made the recipes I’m watching on the shows.
From simple and well-worded directions for getting the skins off the hazelnuts by boiling them in water and baking soda, to the cookie dough coming together easily with a bowl and spoon, these biscotti are great!
One word of warning though, and I’m just saying this hypothetically—don’t use cornstarch instead of baking soda when boiling the nuts—the skins simply won’t come off. Okay, okay, so I did that. I was surprised to see that the cornstarch congealed and was just strange. I’ll spare you the photos I took all the while not realizing I wasn’t supposed to use cornstarch but baking soda. Here’s the boiled hazelnuts with baking soda in the water. Just as the recipe indicates, the water will turn black when they are ready.
After making the dough, two cookie dough logs are put onto a baking sheet. The recipes suggested that with the sticky dough you flour your hands. I got mine a little wet with water instead. I have done this before with biscotti and liked how easy it was to form the logs.
The first bake of the biscotti went off without a hitch!
After cooling for a short time, I sliced the “logs” into half-inch pieces. The biscotti were placed on a wire rack and baked for ten minutes in their second baking.
The biscotti really was enjoyable enough as-is.
The biggest surprise to me with these is that Kevin (who hates crunchy cookies) has been eating them dunked in milk and said they are actually pretty good. I’m glad he likes them so I don’t eat them all. ;)
And of course, if you know me, like many of you know me, I just couldn’t leave well enough alone and I couldn’t leave chocolate out of these—or off of them. Drizzle, drizzle!
Here’s the recipe--
Hazelnut Biscotti, from Dorie Greenspan, Baking With Julia
Makes about 4 dozen biscotti. It’s the baking soda in the dough that gives these biscotti their wonderful open, crunchy texture. Although they’ll tenderize over the course of a few days (if they last that long), just-baked, they’re exceptionally dry and crackly. It’s also baking soda that makes easy work of the usually pesky job of peeling hazelnut—they’re boiled in a baking soda bath and emerge ready to shed their skins in a flash.
This recipe can be doubled and the choice of nuts varied. You can make the biscotti with almonds, pistachios, or even peanuts; you can add raisins, or try chocolate chips. And you can make the dough easily either by hand or in a mixer with a paddle. If you choose the mixer, whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl, beat the liquid ingredients and sugar in the mixer, then add the dry ingredients to the liquid and continue with the recipe.
2 cups water
3 tablespoons baking soda
2/3 cup unblanched hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour (200 grams)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico, or brandy (I used Torani Hazelnut flavoring syrup instead of liquor—Katrina)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
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 to 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 300 degrees F.
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 (flavoring), 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 life half 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—then place the cooling rack in the 300 degree F 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 rack(s) 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.
Contributing Baker—Alice Medrich