These crispy Italian cookies were my first foray into making biscotti, and went into my holiday gift bags for family. They’re slightly nontraditional, using hazelnuts instead of almonds, but this gave them a great flavor. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips; I made one batch with chocolate chips and one batch with cinnamon chips. Both came out tasty!
A couple of tips – the dough for these cookies is very wet, which can make it difficult to form into the initial log. I would recommend using a bench scraper to help move the dough into the desired shape. A bench scraper is a really inexpensive kitchen tool that has so many uses – shaping and cutting dough, smoothing icing on cakes, scraping excess dough off of work surfaces – and it’s really invaluable when working with a wet dough like this. I’m not sure I would have been able to shape the dough effectively without one (at the very least I would have been a lot more frustrated!)
You’ll also need to remove as much of the skins as possible from the hazelnuts (unless you’re lucky enough to find blanched hazelnuts; I couldn’t find them anywhere except online!) To do this, toast the hazelnuts in a 350˚ F oven for about 10 minutes, or until most of the skins have split. Take them out of the oven and dump them onto a clean kitchen towel (you may want to designate a towel for this purpose; mine have never looked the same since). Fold the towel over the hazelnuts and rub, removing as much of the skins as possible. If some sticks, don’t worry about it – otherwise you’ll be there for hours!
- 1½ cups blanched toasted hazelnuts
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1¼ tsp. baking powder
- 1¼ tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips (I used minis; you can also use cinnamon chips)
- 1 large egg white
Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Use a food processor to coarsely chop the blanched toasted hazelnuts. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs and sugar together until thick and smooth. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients in two additions, beating each until just incorporated. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the hazelnuts and the chocolate chips (the dough will be very thick).
Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a log about 14-15 inches long, 3 ½ inches wide, and 1 inch thick. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth the surface of the dough. Get the dough into the oven quickly at this point, as it will spread if it sits out.
Bake the dough for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm, but not browned. Let cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. While the log is cooling, lower the oven temperature to 325˚ F.
Whisk the egg white together with 2 Tbsp of water and use a pastry brush to brush the egg wash onto the top of the log. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut the log into ¾-inch slices. Place the slices cut side up on the baking sheet and bake for an additional 25 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: 16-24 biscotti, depending on size cut
Source: Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking