What did you do for New Year’s Eve? We spent the evening with dear friends. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and libations and good company. We brought oysters and dessert. Laury made an amazing Vietnamese caramel fish with rice and Asian vegetables.
As a decadent finale to the past month of indulgent eating, I made Gianduja Mousse from Food & Wine. That’s Chocolate Hazelnut in Italian.
This super-simple dessert was both light and rich at the same time. First, Nutella and crème fraiche are mixed together with some Frangelico. Next, you whip cream until firm. Finally, the whipped cream is folded into the chocolate mixture until fully blended. The mousse is spooned into individual serving dishes, and it’s dessert! I doubled the recipe, which is supposed to serve 4, which made a total of 6 bowls of mousse.
The recipe suggested serving the mousse with chocolate wafer cookies, which inspired me to make a batch of World Peace Cookies. While I’m not a huge chocolate fan, this recipe is so good that these are, hands down, one of my favorite cookie recipes. Another slice-and-bake recipe, so they are easy too.
The gianduja mousse was a hit! It’s a company-worthy dessert that I’m adding to my repertoire. Trader Joe’s has their own spin on a chocolate spread. Theirs is cocoa-almond. I plan to try a version of this with TJ’s cocoa-almond spread with Amaretto to see how that turns out.
The mousse having been enjoyed, now it’s time for some lighter eating for a while…
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.
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.
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.