Hazelnut-Chocolate Biscotti

I love to make homemade food gifts.  I find it rewarding to give someone something I made from scratch specifically for them.  One of my best friends and I were preparing to swap Christmas gifts and had both decided that homemade was the way to go.  So I started hunting for recipes.  I had initially wanted to make biscotti for my step dad as a Christmas present, but he was on a diet – the idea for homemade biscotti lingered though.  I went through all of my cookbooks searching and narrowing recipes for the delectable coffee pairing until I found the one that would be perfect for B.  A cinnamon-chip biscotti was calling my name.  I swapped in some chocolate chips for the cinnamon and I was good to go.

 I have a confession to make – I don’t really care for biscotti, I find it too dry and hard most of the time, leaving me with a sore roof of the mouth and an unpleasant after taste.  But homemade biscotti is entirely a horse of a different color, it’s tender while still firm and left me craving more with every bite.  B loved it – or said she did to save my feelings 😛 But in all seriousness there are some things I will change about my next batch – I’ll coarsely chop the hazelnuts because whole was just too much and I’ll leave out the chocolate chips – they were delicious but they also made it just not pretty.  I’ll just dip them in ganache next time instead, besides that will give a better cookie to chocolate ratio.

Regardless – you should probably take an afternoon and make these, soon.  They’re that good.  Like overgrown chocolate-chip cookies and they’re just perfect with a good cup of coffee.  Perfect.

Hazelnut-Chocolate Chip Biscotti
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito which I borrowed from Megan and love!
Note: The original recipe calls for cinnamon but I really wanted a Nutella feel to these so I omitted the cinnamon.  I also cooked mine for slightly less time than they called for because I prefer a more tender biscotti.  Also, the original recipe calls makes 24 huge biscotti – I would make them a bit smaller next time and have changed the recipe below to indicate that.  I also nixed brushing egg whites on top of the fully cooked biscotti log before drying them.  It felt unneccessary to me and mine were toally fine without it.

1 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cup blanched hazelnuts,  toasted and coarsely chopped
1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment.  In a small bowl whisk/sift the sugar, baking powder and salt until fluffy.  In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the eggs and sugar mixture together until it’s ribbony – about 45-60 seconds. Add the vanilla and beat until incorporated – 5-10 seconds. Add one half of the flour and beat to combine.  Add the second half of the flour – mix until everything is just combined – about 30 seconds.  Add the nuts and chips (if using) on low speed, mix until evenly distributed.  Turn the dough out onto the parchment lined baking sheet and separate it.  Shape one log into a 12 inch log 2 inches across and 3/4 inch think.  Do the same thing with the other log on another baking sheet.  Bake the logs for 20-25 mins, until firm to the touch but not hard (I cooked mine about 18), then let them cool on the pan for 10 mins or so, until handle-able.  Lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Cut the logs into 1/2-3/4 inch slices, however wide you like your biscotti, I’m more on the half inch side myself.  Lay the sliced biscotti back on the baking sheets cut sides up/down  and bake them for 20-25 mins, until they are firm (again if you want more tender biscotti don’t cook them as long on this step, 18 mins is what I did).  After the biscotti are cooked remove them from the oven and let them cool fro at least five minutes on the pan before transferring them to a wire rack.  Let the cookies cool completely before eating/storing them.  These will keep for about two weeks in  an airtight container.  They are fantastic dipped in a jar of Nutella for dessert.