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Entries in Hazelnut Biscotti Cookies (1)

Friday
Nov162012

Hazelnut Biscotti Cookies

The secret to these biscotti is eliminating the “twice baked” process.  It’s cumbersome, you can’t cut them properly when they are still hot and it dries them out into that stale, brick like consistency many people dislike. The intensely artificial extracts added to most commercial products don’t help either.

This recipe is actually quite a bit less work than twice baking, and yields a slightly crunchy exterior and a chewy interior.  Not too sweet either, which makes them excellent accompaniments to a glass of wine. You can use almonds instead of the hazelnuts, which would eliminate having to remove the skins, and substitute orange zest for the lemon, but this version is my favorite.

Makes 2 loaves

Ingredients

2 heaping cups raw hazelnuts
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 extra large eggs
4 cups flour, plus another 1/4 cup for shaping
Zest of 2 lemons
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Place the nuts in a jelly roll pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-16 minutes, until the skins turn dark.  Let cool about 15 minutes.  
  • Take the Jelly Roll Pan with the nuts in it, a clean dishtowel, and an empty bowl and go outside.  I don’t care how cold it is, you will thank me for it when you have finished this step.  
  • Place a handful or two of nuts into the middle of a dishtowel and bring the ends and sides of the towel up until you can close your hand around it.  With the other hand, rub the nuts through the towel against themselves to remove as much of the skins as possible.  
  • Carefully, open up the towel and scoop the nuts into the bowl.  Then holding the towel away from you and away from the wind, shake the towel out.  Keep doing this until your entire back yard is covered in skins.  Bring the nuts inside. 
  • Nuts can be prepared ahead to this point, and frozen, however, I like the more intense flavor you get when you chop them in the food processor while they are still warm, then scrape directly into the batter.
  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.
  • Cream butter with a mixer until light and fluffy.  
  • Add sugar and beat until fully incorporated. 
  • Add eggs and vanilla, and beat again.  Add lemon zest and beat once more.
  • Chop the hazelnuts coarsely in a food processor, and add to the mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Add the dry mixture to batter, and pulse the mixer until just incorporated, about 20 times. Don’t over mix or your cookies will start to get tough.
  • Scrape the dough onto a cookie sheet in roughly the form of a log.
Sprinkle a little more flour on top of the log.  Flour hands, and shape the dough into a loaf about 10" long, 2-3" wide, and 1-1/2" high.

  • Bake in a 300 degree oven, for about 50-55 minutes, or until log is golden brown. (I've also tried them at 325 for 40-45 minutes, and the result in nearly the same.  Just a little moister on the inside and not as crunchy on the outside.)
  • Remove from oven and let cool completely, about 2 hours.  
  • I serve these on a board, and let guests slice them into ½ inch diagonals as they enjoy them. They can be wrapped in waxed paper and foil if you are going to serve them within a couple of days.  
  • If you want to store them longer, scrape the dough onto a sheet of waxed paper, form the log, then wrap tightly in the paper and foil, and place in the freezer.  They can go from freezer to oven the day you are going to bake them.