So Ryan was jealous back when I made biscotti for my friend Greg, and even though I saved him some from that night, I felt that he was still owed some cookie perfection.
Because seriously, biscotti might be the perfect cookie—or even desert. Just check out their characteristics:
- Can be eaten in just a few bites
- Best when not sickly sweet—even a little bitter depending on add-ins
- Ancient Romans agreed upon their awesomeness
- Made for dipping, especially in wine
If you don’t think that that’s the perfect cookie, then I’m not sure that this blog is for you.
Biscotti comes from the Italian biscotto, meaning ‘twice-cooked,’ describing the way in which the cookies are baked first in log form, then cut into individual cookies and baked again. It’s related to the English biscuit, although the words have shifted in meaning over time and place.
Biscotti means ‘twice-cooked (things).’ Like panini (little breads), biscotti is already plural, so please don’t join the legions of people giving me tics by using terms like ‘biscottis’ and ‘paninis.’ It’s like saying ‘cookieses’ or ‘sandwicheses.’ You sound like an idiot, so please stop.
These twice-cooked guys date back millennia—according to Wikipedia, even ‘Pliny the Elder boasted that such goods would be edible for centuries.’ These dry, crunchy cookies store especially well, so if you’re planning on invading Gaul any time in the near future, then plan to tell your coquus to bake up a bunch.
If you yourself have some spare time at your villa, or if you’ve had a recent near-death-by-poisoning experience (where was your praegustator!?), then check out the recipe below.
The recipe comes from this recipe, although I veganised it and changed some things. I was dismayed to learn that traditional biscotti don’t have butter or fat in them, which makes this a non-traditional recipe. O, well—it’s still delicious, so I’ve little motivation to veganise the original recipe rediscovered by Antonio Mattei in the nineteenth century.
The skin of the hazelnuts is somewhat bitter, so you may wish to remove it. (I didn’t because I’m lazy, but this is how I would do it were I really trying to impress someone.)
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Bring 3 c water to a boil. Add 1/4 c baking soda and the 1 c hazelnuts and boil for 3-4 minutes. The water will turn black, and you can pretend that you’re a witch making a concoction.
Drain the nuts in a colander and rinse. Pop off any skins that don’t come off on their own. Pat-dry with a towel, then place on a baking sheet (or ceramic pizza pan…) and roast for ~10 minutes until just the teeniest bit brown.
For the biscotti, keep the oven at 350ºF. Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt into the mixture and mix well. Stir in the hazelnuts. I like mine whole, but you could chop them if you really must.
Shape the dough into two logs, roughly 12″ long—I stuck mine on a silpat because 1. they make my life super easy and 2. silicon is clearly the element that gets around the most, if you know what I mean. Flatten to about 1/2″ high. Optionally, dust with powdered sugar.
Bake for 30 minutes, until edges are browning and centre is firm. Remove and let cool for 5-10 minutes until logs are just cool enough to handle.
Cut diagonally with a serrated knife into 1/2″ slices. Place cut-side-down onto the baking sheet and cook for 5 minutes, then flip and cook for another 5 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. The biscotti will crisp up as they cool, so don’t worry if they’re a little flexible right out of the oven.
Allow to cool completely before dipping in chocolate.
For chocolate dipping, grab a double boiler. (If you don’t have a double boiler, then grab a pot and a bowl that fits snugly on top of the pot. Now you’ve got a double boiler.) Fill the bottom of the double boiler with an inch or two of water and place the top on, making sure that the top doesn’t touch the water.
Place the boiler over high heat. In the top of the boiler, combine the chocolate chips, soy milk, and maple syrup and stir until melted, silky, and shiny.
Carefully dip each side, end, or whatever into the chocolate. Place on a rack to cool.
Serve with coffee or wine!
Garnishes: powdered sugar, chocolate shavings, or really fancy drizzled leftover chocolate dipping
Goes well with: strong, dark coffee or espresso; rich red wine or vin santo; or even something simple like orange (or blood orange!) juice
*I forgot to add the maple syrup to my chocolate glaze, so it was clumpier. I realised this, but I also realised that this meant more chocolate per cookie, so…’whoops.’