Back a few years ago, I went on a baking frenzy and was making many different types of biscotti. They were easy to make and I loved the texture, plus...people devoured them quicker than I could make them. I actually got an offer from a local restaurant to make their biscotti but I didn't have a commercial kitchen available so it was a "no go".
Recently, a little sandwich shop I frequent was selling espresso chip biscotti. After my second round of purchases, I came home and decided that I would make some myself. I pulled out my three biscotti cookbooks and decided to make use of my Williams-Sonoma Cookie and Biscotti Cookbook. The book was written in 1994 but it has some of the best biscotti recipes I've ever made.
I decided to make the Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti because we had a big bag of hazelnuts sitting in the pantry, I was craving something chocolate, and I actually had a jar of instant espresso. Perfect reason to bake these biscotti and I am also trying to identify cookies for the holidays. Every year I try to highlight different cookies and this year is going to be strictly biscotti.
This Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti recipe had a few unique techniques.
1. You combine the chocolate in the food processor with the brown sugar. You can combine the two until the chocolate chips are completely blended or leave some chunks to blend into the cookies while baking (which is what I did.)
2. Eggs are the main liquid ingredient - no butter or oils.
3. I chose to use bittersweet chocolate vs semi-sweet. I just really enjoy bittersweet chocolate in a sweet cookie - nice balance.
These cookies came together quickly and I mixed the last of the dough with my hands. Sometimes, when the dough gets tough to mix, I put my hand in and blend the dough. It also allowed me to knead the dough in the bowl, eliminating my having to knead the dough on the wooden pastry board.
Before I knew it, the biscotti were baked and then baked again. As they were coming out of the oven for the second time, our friends had arrived to enjoy a Labor Day cook-out. My girlfriend, Sharon's son, Ross, was the first to test the cookies. After the first bite he said, "May I have a glass of milk to dip these in? These are great!" I started to laugh. I always think of biscotti as adult cookies, especially with the espresso and hazelnuts. But here is Ross, all of 9, enjoying these delicious treats.
Over the next month, you will be seeing quite a few biscotti recipes so please bear with me. I want to find an amazing bunch of biscotti recipes for you to share with your friends and family as we head into the next three months of holidays.
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti (adapted from Williams-Sonoma)
½ cup of bittersweet chocolate chips, chopped (I used Ghirardelli 60% Cacoa Bittersweet Chocolate Chips)
1 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
1-3/4 cups of flour
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 tablespoons of espresso powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
¼ teaspoon of salt
1-1/4 teaspoon of vanilla
½ teaspoon of almond extract
1 cup of hazelnuts, toasted and chopped coarsely
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, using a metal blade, pulse the chocolate and brown sugar until the chocolate is blended with periodic chips seen throughout. Put aside.
3. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, espresso powder, baking soda and salt together. Put aside.
4. In a large bowl, add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. With a hand whisk, whisk the mixture for one minute. The mixture should be well until blended.
5. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon add the brown sugar and chocolate mix as well as the flour mix to the eggs, vanilla and almond extract.
6. The mixture will become very stiff. Add the hazelnuts.
7. At this point you have a few choices…
A. On a floured board, knead the biscotti dough until it comes together in a soft ball or
B. Place a bit of flour onto your hands and knead the dough in the bowl until it comes together in a soft ball. (I did this and it was much easier and less to clean up.)
8. Cut the ball in half and create two 12-inch logs. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the biscotti logs are firm to the touch.
9. Allow biscotti to cool for 10 minutes on the cookie sheet. Remove from parchment paper and cool completely on cookie racks.
10. Once cool, slice the logs with a serrated knife, at a diagonal, creating cookies 1 inch per slice.
11. Place the slices, standing, on the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes.
12. Cool and enjoy! Makes 30-40 cookies