Something to munch on...hazelnut biscotti

I consider learning how to make biscotti one of my earliest accomplishments from starting this blog.  I'm a big fan and used to buy them all the time from the supermarket and order them at coffee shops.  When I tried making them at home and realized it was actually easy (and far tastier than the ones you buy), I was thrilled! 
So ever since then, I bake biscotti pretty regularly.  It's just one of those lighter treats I like to make, to have something crunchy around the house to munch on.  My sister loves it too and I like to make some to share with her if she's around.  We both love our biscotti super crunchy (unlike my husband who is definitely more a dunker and a soft-cookie lover in general).  So when I make biscotti, I go with traditional recipes that do not call for butter.  We just  prefer them super dry and with plenty of nuts.

This time, I made a very simple, plain hazelnut biscotti.  It's a recipe from Alice Medrich that I found in Baking with JuliaWe recently went to Washington, D.C. during Spring Break and I got a chance to peek into Julia Child's kitchen at one of the Smithsonian museums.  That inspired me to check out some of Julia's cookbooks from the library and this recipe caught my attention because unlike other recipes I've made where I start the process with the standmixer, this can be done by hand, very quickly and simply.  I call it "two-bowl biscotti" because it's very much like a muffin recipe where you mix the dry ingredients into the wet and you're halfway there.
Not everyone in my extended family is a big dessert lover but I find that biscotti works for those who prefer something less decadent.  I like serving it with coffee after dinner, like we did this past Saturday night.  But I rarely serve biscotti alone - that night, some homemade mint gelato (and lemon sorbet) joined us at the table too.  It's always nice to have options, right?

Here's to crunchy foods and homemade meals shared with good company!

As promised, this is a two-bowl, no-machine-required, recipe.  I followed the recipe in making the dough but made a few changes along the way...don't you feel a little guilty when you follow a recipe but don't quite follow it fully?


I made a half batch, which yielded roughly 18 cookies.  I usually end up with less biscotti than the recipe says I'll get.  I suppose I make mine larger or somewhat thicker than intended. 

I used a little more toasted hazelnuts than the recipe requires and instead of baking the sliced cookies on a cooling rack as suggested, I did it the conventional way by lying them on my baking sheet and just flipping them over halfway through baking.  To me, that's just as easy, if not easier.
Making the biscotti dough is simply whisking the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another (the bowl holding the nuts doesn't count, right!).
Use a wooden spoon to stir the dry ingredients into the wet or get your clean hands into the bowl and work the dough together.  It's now done and ready to be shaped into a log for the first baking!  I really think finding skinned hazelnuts is where the heavy-lifting is for this recipe.
I did want to mention that aside from how simple this recipe is, I also found it interesting that baking soda, rather than powder, is used here.  Alice Medrich says it's that very baking soda that gives the biscotti the open, crunchy texture, and I suppose that's why we can quickly mix the whole thing together by hand.  It's interesting because I'm used to adding baking powder and whipping the egg and wet ingredients in the mixer first to aerate and lighten up the batter to create that open texture.  This is surely a big time savings.
I like to keep my biscotti simple most of the time but the option of dipping or drizzling them in some dark chocolate is always lurking in the background...one day, I know I'll succumb to the urge.  I know my little one wants me to. 


Recipe:

Hazelnut Biscotti
Adapted from Alice Medrich's recipe featured in Baking with Julia

- Makes 2 logs, as much as 4 dozen biscotti (or more like 3 dozen if you're me) -  

1 cup hazelnuts, skinned and toasted, then coarsely chopped
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
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats. 

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In another larger bowl, whisk the eggs, liqueur, vanilla and sugar together until well combined and slightly frothy.  Add the dry ingredients into the wet.  Stir together with a wooden spoon to combine.  Add nuts and mix until just incorporated.  If the dough is too stiff, you can also reach in and use clean hands to bring the dough together.

Lightly flour your hands and lift out half the dough.  Set it on one side of a baking sheet, pat it out, and shape it into about a 12-inch long log.  (I find that wetting your hands with a little bit of water also helps with the stickness and makes it easier to smooth out the dough.)  Repeat with the other half of the dough and set the second log about 3 inches apart from the first.  Bake the logs for 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking.  The logs should be dry and golden.  Remove from the oven and set baking sheet on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes to cool.

Turn oven temperature down to 300 degrees and position the racks to the top and bottom third of the oven.

Once the logs are cool enough to handle, slice the logs into about 1/2-inch thick slices, either straight across or on the diagonal.  Lay the biscotti on 2 baking sheets and bake for 10-15 minutes, flipping the biscotti over about halfway through the baking time.  The biscotti are done when they are golden and feel dry to the touch.  Remove from the oven and let cool completely on cooling racks.

Biscotti are excellent for keeping around the house for munching since you don't have to worry about them going dry.  Once completely cooled, store biscotti in an airtight container for up to a month.




36 comments:

  1. Beautiful biscotti! I've never made them on my own but am tempted to now!

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    1. Thanks, Eva! Ever since I tried making biscotti, I haven't looked back. I usually make a half recipe so just one log and it makes the process even easier.

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  2. Yum! I love biscotti, and my mom used to make it all the time, but I've never actually done it myself! Pinning your recipe to try, because I LOVE hazelnuts!

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    1. This recipe that doesn't even require any equipment is a great start. As long as you like your biscotti dry and really crunchy, I'm sure you'd like this. I love hazelnuts but almonds, pistachios are other favorites...and great with some citrus zest thrown in!

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  3. Your biscotti looks so delicious, especially with the homemade gelato!

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    1. Thank you, Rosie. I love variety! : )

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  4. I am a major fan of biscotti. They are so delicious and versitile. You can make them as sweet or unsweet as you like. Eat them alone or with ice cream or coffee. Make them extra crunchy or with a delicate crunch. They store very well, lasting and improving for weeks! I have never tried flavoring biscotti with liqueur and it sounds great! Oh, the possibilities. :)

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    1. I agree with you on all counts, Wendy! I thought the liqueur was interesting too and since I have Frangelico at home, I wanted to give it a try. I don't know if it makes that big of a flavor impact to be honest but it doesn't hurt if you have it on hand and I think everything kind of works together to create the whole package in subtle ways.

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  5. Yes, biscotti is very easy to make and they are so delicious. I saw you name on a Nami blog, nice to meet you-) Hope to see you around!

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    1. Don't you just adore Nami's blog! It's one of my fav discoveries of late. : )

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  6. I actually buy biscotti at bakeries once in a while. Because I have to buy, I don't eat often... Hearing that it's actually "easy" to makes intrigued to try. They look really delicious, Monica! :)

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    1. Yes, Nami...they are not hard to make at all...the only trick is getting the sticking dough onto the baking sheet but I find some wet hands really does the trick and it doesn't need to be perfect. Great crunchy snack to wake you up in the afternoon.

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  7. So good to know that biscotti is easy to make. Now I'll have to give it a go at home. Thanks for the encouragement --these look yummy!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Anne! This is a great easy recipe to go with. Like I said above, use wet hands to get the sticky dough smoothed out and you're halfway there. Use any kind of nuts you like or even add chocolate chips, etc. : )

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  8. These biscottis look amazing! Like they just came from a bakery. Biscotti + coffee = happiness.

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    1. Thank you, Tina. I agree with you on that equation!

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  9. Your hazelnut biscotti looks great...I must admit that I never baked biscotti...always but it ready...very embarrassing...
    Thanks for the recipe, I must give this a try soon.
    Have a lovely week Monica :)

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    1. Hi there, Juliana! Nothing wrong with buying biscotti (or anything else for that matter)...but if you like them as much as I do, making them yourself makes sense. You have a great week, too!

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  10. I simply adore biscotti. But don't make it nearly enough! I don't think I've made it in years. They are truly not at all hard to make!

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    1. I'm sure biscotti are a breeze for you, Sally! I like to munch on them like you do with pretzels, I think. : )

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  11. Kudos for making the actual hazelnut recipe. I altered it by using almonds instead. I'll definitely be trying these crunchy cookies with hazelnuts for my afternoon tea soon!

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    1. Thanks, I've made almond biscotti and I love any excuse to use almond extract...just love it! I really can't decide whether I like almond, pistachio, or hazelnut biscotti more... : )

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  12. I agree with you, homemade biscotti tastes much better than store bought ones and I bake them on a regular basis too. I just made a Mocha hazelnut version and dip them in dark chocolate. :P SO good. Try them with the dark chocolate, I know you're going to love them! ;)

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    1. I agree, Amy. I love cookies like this dipped in dark chocolate. I'm trying to keep it simple and "light" by forgoing the chocolate but I can only hold out for so long. : )

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  13. I think once you discover that homemade biscotti is about 879 times better than storebought (and way easy) you never go back. I discovered that this past christmas when i made my first biscotti and thought "WHOA: how simple could this be?!?!" it's like making homemade pancakes the first time versus the box sort.
    Yours are beautiful! I like that they're straightforward, and hazelnuts are always a great addition. So true about it being a nice alternative to a super-sweet dessert.

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    1. Shannon, I'm so glad to hear others back me up on how easy it is to make biscotti. You are spot on with the pancake analogy - though that might've been even more dramatic than biscotti for me! I'd always bought the box kind and I remember how shocked I was when I finally made the batter myself and tasted the difference. It was definitely a "whoa!" moment. Love those lessons!

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  14. Yay for biscotti!! , now all I need is a good cup of coffee

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    1. I'm with ya! Was just munching on earlier with my little one... : )

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  15. I loved hearing about your affection for biscotti...and how you started making it at home. This would be perfect with an afternoon cup of tea. Thank you so much for sharing it with me!

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    1. Thanks, Monet. It's definitely great with a cup of tea in the afternoon.

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  16. Reading about your biscotti making experience is nudging me to get into my kitchen and make it right this momemnt.

    I'll continue drooling here :)

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    1. Hi Kiran, it's definitely one of the most practical things I learned to make since it's a great everday snack.

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  17. I am a soft cookie girl, but kudos for making them! So, do you prefer this recipe, or your more traditional ones?

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    1. It tasted (and texture-wise) very similar to the other ones I've made where I start by whipping the batter with the whisk attachment for several minutes first. Maybe because I was trying to find a difference, I thought this had a slightly (very hard to describe because it could be my imagination) different kind of crispness to it somehow. I would definitely do it this way again - it is easier and came out great!

      My heart ultimately belongs to the soft gooey cookie but I do love crunch in many instances like biscotti. That might explain my attachment to potato chips!

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  18. i love biscotti!
    i've always wanted to make it - will definitely try this soon xxx

    gemma @ andgeesaid.blogspot.com

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