Posted on October 7 2011

Recipe #4: Hazelnut biscotti

There’s nothing like dunking a crisp piece of biscotti into a steaming cup of coffee.  Also, there’s nothing like getting excited about making your own biscotti, and promptly dumping it on the floor in the middle of the process.  It’s okay though, most of it was salvaged and we go by the five second rule around here.

Like all the recipes I’ve encountered thus far, I felt somewhat intimidated by the thought of making my own biscotti.  Once again, I was pleasantly surprised to find it’s actually quite straightforward and accessible, even for the novice baker.

I ended up driving around for what seemed to be the entire afternoon, on the hunt for hazelnuts!  I ended up finding them at a local specialty store, “Heilman’s Nuts and Confections.”  Once inside the store, I mentioned my fruitless quest (well, nutless, technically), and also the fact that it was my husband who suggested Heilman’s after a desperate phone call as I was leaving the fourth grocery store sans hazelnuts.  The owner basically promised Dan a lifetime of deals on nuts and confections for the plug for his shop.  Yes!  Once I had the hazelnuts, the real challenge arose: getting the skin off of them.  It seemed simple enough – just baking them for a few minutes, then rubbing them in a kitchen towel – badda bing, badda boom, skinless hazelnuts! 

(Please, don’t mind the old baking sheet.  It’s been loved.)

Eh, not so easy.  After the first attempt yielded unsatisfactory results, I put them back in the oven for a few more minutes…no change.  I did this again, and still half of them retained their skin.  I even did a little impromptu Google search, which suggested a “scienctific approach” of boiling them.  I felt it was too late in the game to divert my attempts to this approach, already committed to the baking route.  So, I just chopped them up as they were.  

 

Everything else was easy, easy, easy…

Some Grand Marnier, along with some orange zest, providing a citrusy pop of flavor.

Here, I’m about to separate the dough into two.

After providing a little egg wash, they were off to the oven.  At this point, once they were out of the oven, I hit a baking speed bump which had the face of a dog freaking out in a barking tantrum combined with a 2-year-old ambushing me as I carried some hot biscotti logs out of the oven.  There was some yelling and nearly tears for all parties involved.  We scrambled to recover 85% of the biscotti, all hope was not lost. 

After some cooling, came the slicing, then back into the oven for a final, and brief, round of baking we waited patiently for our taste test.

The final product, pretty tasty, with a distinct orangy-licoricey flavor.  I thought the anise seeds were going to be overpowering, and so I spent the entire baking process worrying about such an addition to what was called hazelnut biscotti.  Happily, I was proven wrong.  Turns out the pastry chef who trained in France and wrote a book on such things knows more than my amateur baker self.  Who would have thunk it?  

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