tuesdays with dorie / baking with julia: hazelnut biscotti

I don’t just like biscotti, I love it. With a decent Italian bakery within walking distance of my house, I seldom make them myself. A fix is always in range. When I saw that this week’s selection for Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia was Hazelnut Biscotti, I had to try it. This recipe was from Alice Medrich, the renowned San Francisco area baker. I have admired and earmarked many Alice Medrich recipes in the past, but never actually made one. I am, after all, more of a cooker than a baker. So, an attempt at Alice’s biscotti was made.

The first bonus from this recipe was the genius technique for removing the stubborn skins from the hazelnuts. I must have seen the episode where Alice baked with Julia on the PBS series, because I have these instructions scrawled on a piece of a paper that I’ve referred to in the past. Who would think that boiling hazelnuts with baking soda and water would make the job so easy? The water gets rather gross, and you have to use a pot big enough that the icky water doesn’t boil over (voice of experience), but other than that, this is a method to use again and again. I wonder whether it works on almonds too.

Naked (Blanched) Hazelnuts

The batter itself was different than biscotti recipes I’ve made before. I seem to make a different recipe every time, but all of them typically call for oil or butter. This recipe has no additional fat beyond the eggs. I stirred it by hand, mixing the flour mixture in to the egg mixture, kneading the last of the flour in by hand.

Just as with other biscotti, the sticky dough is shaped with floured hands into logs and baked once.

After a brief cool (so the logs can be handled comfortably, I assume), the logs are sliced, and the slices are baked again. Biscotti does mean twice baked, after all.

This is where the second bonus of the recipe comes in. Rather than baking the slices on a cookie sheet, Alice has us bake the cookies on cooling racks placed directly on the oven rack. This lets the air move around the entire cookie as it bakes, eliminating the need for the flipping over step. Taking the rack back out of the oven was a little tricky, but well worth the inconvenience. While I might have slightly overcooked the ones on the bottom oven rack, I will use this technique again.

The cookies are wonderfully crisp. I’ve only eaten a few “straight” so far, but I will dip them in my tea for a snack later today. I will definitely make these again, maybe trying almonds (swapping amaretto for the frangelico) or other nuts with the appropriate liqueur. I can’t wait to see what the other bakers have been inspired to do with this one. You can check their links here.

For the recipe, you can visit this week’s hosts Jodi at Homemade and Wholesome and Katrina at Baking and Boys!

Happy 4th of July to all! This all-American holiday is among my favorites though it brings to mind a celebration of freedom throughout the world.


Posted on 3 July 2012, in Baking, Tuesdays with Dorie and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. looks very yummy!! (did not know that nut trick-although as you know i probably would not ever have to use it since i dont cook or bake)
    ps glad the bee experience worked out-was wondering about how that was going

  2. You’ve changed your blog! I really like it!
    Your biscotti looks great (and I wish I read your tip to avoid the water boiling over! I made a nice mess!)

  3. Your biscotti looks great, Betsy! I like this recipe so much better than others that I have tried and want to try other nut and flavor combinations. Hope you and Howard have a wonderful 4th! Off to work now, but will stop back by later. Have a good day!

  4. Still searching for hazelnuts in these parts! I subbed pecans and cinnamon in mine and they were delish. Can’t wait to try the original recipe! Yours look wonderful. :)

  5. I wasn’t quite brave enough to place mine on the rack :-)
    These look lovely – have a great holiday!

  6. Betsy, lovely looking Hazelnut Biscottis, the trick with the rack is quite ingenious, I agree. Glad that you liked them so much because Biscotti/Cantuccinis are my favorite cookies! I did actually use almonds (skin on) and used Amaretto in place of the Frangelico.

    P.S.: Thank you for letting me know how you and your bees/honey are doing, I enjoy hearing/reading all about your bees and I am glad that you recovered so well from your beesting incident!

  7. Your biscotti are beautiful!! Loved your blog :)

  8. Interesting – none of the other recipes I’ve made have called for oil or butter… I haven’t eaten *that* many in a row yet, either… it takes time to dunk :-)

  9. Betsy, Beautiful biscotti!! I also love biscotti…they are a favorite around here! I bought blanched hazelnuts…I hate skinning them! I thought they were wonderful, too!

  10. I’m glad you enjoyed this recipe. Your biscotti look wonderful.

  11. your biscotti came out great.. and even i quite liked the idea of using just a wire rack for the second baking!

  12. I loved the baking rack tip, too, though it made me wish I had one of those wide, waist-height ovens that television bakers always seem to have. It’s so much less elegant to hunch over and gingerly set the racks in a regular oven. The hazelnut version looks so good, I’m going to have to try it once our variations run out. I’m still not sure about the baking soda method, though – some folks’ photos make it look a little scary!

  13. I hope you enjoyed your 4th, Betsy. Your biscotti looks delicious, perfect, just right. I have never successfully made biscotti and I think I’ve kept my record intact. I was late in making this and will post next Tuesday (I have permission) but, still, I didn’t get good results. Not Alice’s fault. Mine.

  14. Beautiful biscotti!

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