Nutty Crunchy Lovely Yummy: Hazelnut Biscotti

A while ago I bought some hazelnuts with the vague notion that I would use them in a future baking project. But I kept seeing the nuts in my refrigerator and ignoring them because I absolutely hate the chore of skinning hazelnuts (I use the boil-in-water-with-baking-soda method). Finally I decided to bite the bullet and just go ahead to peel and toast the hazelnuts, even though I didn't have a specific recipe in mind yet.

With some nice blanched and toasted hazelnuts on hand, I elected to make Alice Medrich's Hazelnut Biscotti from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy. It was an easy decision -- I love biscotti and I also wanted to erase the memory of a recent biscotti failure from my mind. I was confident that Medrich wouldn't lead me astray, especially since her chocolate chip cookie biscotti from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts has been my go-to biscotti recipe for years. Plus, the recipe headnote describes Medrich's affinity for "this style of biscotti with its porous, hard, crunchy texture... I love them bone dry, loud, and crunchy." That's music to my ears, because I love my biscotti dry and crunchy too.

The recipe is actually written to use almonds, but the headnote invites bakers to make a hazelnut variation by substituting hazelnuts for the almonds and Frangelico for the amaretto in the recipe. You don't need a mixer to make the dough. You just whisk together eggs, Frangelico, and vanilla; stir in a mixture of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt; and add in toasted skinned hazelnuts. I also added half a teaspoon of almond extract because almond extract enhances the flavor of hazelnuts. The recipe specifies coarsely chopped nuts but I kept my hazelnuts whole. I shaped the dough into loaves; baked them until firm and dry; cooled them slightly; cut the loaves into slices; and toasted the cookies until dry.
These biscotti were the bomb. So dry and crunchy and delightfully hazelnutty. And I'm glad I left the hazelnuts whole because I really liked the pretty bisected nuts visible in every slice. These are definitely some of my favorite biscotti out of the many varieties I have baked over the years. I intend to make them again soon!

Recipe: "Almond Biscotti (Hazelnut Variation)" from Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich.

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