My mom used to buy these giant biscotti containers from Costco, and she would have one with a bowl of tea. I’ve never been much of a candy eater, but I did love pastries and baked sweets. So while I would ignore the piles of Halloween candy, I would always sneak into the kitchen, open the snack drawer, and abscond with a biscotti.
I’m pretty sure my mom knew, but she pretended she didn’t. Moms are the best.
For some reason I’ve never actually made biscotti, but after watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off where the challenge was biscotti and seeing all the different flavor options, I thought — why not?
A little about these interestingly shaped cookies: Biscotti are biscuits that also go by the name cantuccini that come from Prato, Italy. They are oblong shaped and originally meant to be dipped in a sweet Italian dessert wine, Vin Santo. The word itself means “twice baked” which is how these cookies get their distinctive crunch and snap. These cookies are also not unique to Italy but can also be found from Argentina to Spain — who knew? Common ingredients are pine nuts, almonds, olive oil, hazelnuts, etc.
Looking around my kitchen, I had a lot of oranges, hazelnuts in the freezer, and of course dark chocolate — so I thought…why not? These cookies are not too hard to make and though I’ve never dipped them in a sweet wine, they do taste oh so delicious dipped in coffee.
1. The chocolate, since it adds moisture, is going to make it so that these biscotti take a little longer on their second bake to dry out. If you omit the chocolate, then make sure you cut down on the baking time. The good thing is that if they come out a little soft still, you can just pop them right back in.
2. This seems like a lot of orange zest but trust me, the flavor comes through. The problem is that when you bake orange zest, a lot of the essential oils that add to the flavor/smell get volatilized and bake off. The amount will not only add the pretty color of the zest, but also keep some of the flavor locked in so it comes through in the end.
3. Play with this recipe. Hate hazelnuts? Add in almonds. Don’t like dark chocolate? Use white. Don’t have orange zest? Toss in some dried fruit. Once you get the recipe, it’s quite easy to modify and make your own.
4. If you are going to dip them in chocolate, wait until the biscotti are cooled.
5. The measurements of added ingredients (chocolate, orange zest, and nuts) in this recipe are approximates, so you can go up on them or down on them within reason.
6. Do this by hand, it’s not a lot of mixing and using a mixer can overwork the dough.
Dark Chocolate, Hazelnut, Orange Zest Biscotti
Modified from Paul Hollywood’s Orange-Hazelnut Biscotti
2 cups (250 grams) all purpose flour
0.5 tsp baking powder
1 cup plain white sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 cups or ~ 200 grams hazelnuts, chopped roughly
5 oranges, zested
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup chopped dark chocolate
Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix together the flour, the baking powder, and the sugar. Then add in the eggs and mix well. This is your dough. Add in the nuts, chocolate, and zest. Mix in. It will be a sticky dough. Plop it out onto a floured surface and knead it 3-4 times to make sure everything is incorporated well. Divide it into two equal portions. Roll each one into flat plank-like logs.
Put them in oven for 25 minutes. Pull them out, allow them to cool for about 5 minutes, and then cut them at an angle to get that oblong shape. Turn up the oven to 350. Lay them out, with one cut side up, pop them back in the oven for ~7 minutes, pull them out, flip them to the other side, and pop them back into the oven for another 7 minutes. Pull them out, allow them to cool, and enjoy! At this point you can either dip them in coffee, eat them by themselves, or dip them in more chocolate!!