Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How to Make Biscotti

Biscotti is always interesting to me on several levels. On the one hand, you know it's suppose to taste good. After all, it's a delightful mix of a cookie and a scone, and is seen as a perfectly acceptable breakfast food. My Mom used to buy them from Sam's, as our hometown was refreshingly low on coffee-house pickings, and, while they came vacuum-sealed, they were always harder than you wanted. A little too crispy, as if they needed coffee to loosen them up before they could go about their morning business. Namely, giving me an excuse to eat chocolate before noon.

I love to bake, but it never occurred to me to make my own biscotti because, well, who does that? My former roommate, that's who. She made a batch for a low-key brunch she had a few months ago and this past weekend, before heading off to see B's parents for a weekend of photo scanning, dress hunting, jewelry shopping, and more (thank you B's parents!), I had a craving to make this. Not to eat it, exactly, but to make it. I blame B's Mom. Give me a standing mixer and expect me not to bake. Seriously.

So I got cooking and, guess what, it's easy! And the finished result was far from over-crisped, a fact B's Dad and I discussed at some length over the Saturday paper. We credit that with the homemade nature of the treat and also my lack of good knives; I just can't slice it thin enough to fully crisp on both sides.

Regardless, biscotti is amazing and should be enjoyed by all, so I'm posting the recipe (which first appeared in Southern Lady Magazine) here. Just promise me that when you make it, you'll at least act like it's hard. Oh, and the best part: the ingredients are so simple that it's a really cheap treat to make for your friends. Pair with a fun plate and you've got a holiday gift ready to go!

And, in case anyone's keeping track, don't be surprised if these appear in the wedding gift bags...

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups finely chopped hazelnuts
1 cup mini semisweet chocolate morsels
1/2 cup butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add hazelnuts and chocolate morsels, stirring to mix well.
3. In a separate bowl, combine butter, eggs, and vanilla. Add butter mixture to flour mixture. Stir until dry ingredients are moistened; dough will be sticky.
4. On a lightly floured surface, shape half of dough into a 14x2-inch log; repeat with remaining dough. Place logs 3 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes, or until set; remove from oven. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300º.
5. Cut each log crosswise into 3/4-inch slices with a serrated knife. Place slices, cut-side down, on baking sheet. Continue baking for 30 minutes, turning slices over at 10-minute intervals, until crisp and light brown on both sides. Remove from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.

NOTE: I've only ever made this with walnuts, and it's yummy. And it made about 1.5 dozen but that's again likely due to my slicing. I like big portions...

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