Yesterday was a public holiday around here with schools and stores closed and a day off work, so we decided to visit the breathtakingly beautiful City of Maastricht in the Netherlands. We have paid many visits to this City and I do not think that we will ever tire of spending time there.
The day before we left, I decided to bake two kinds of Biscotti and today, I am posting the recipe for one of them, our new favorite, namely Almond, Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Biscotti. Last time we were in the Netherlands, I caught a glance at a very similar recipe which we tremendously enjoyed and I decided to re-create it. In our house, these Biscotti that are studded with two kinds of nuts and dark chocolate, now go by the name of the “Dutch Biscotti". Therefore, it seemed fitting to take them along for a quick photo session along the Mass river. The Maas is a major European river, rising in France and flowing through Belgium and the Netherlands before draining into the North Sea. It has a total length of 925 km (575 mi). One of the many cities that borders the Maas is Maastricht.
These crunchy Italian biscuits or cookies were traditionally made with hazelnut and aniseed. But nowadays they are often flavored with a wide variety of nuts and lemon or orange rind or different kinds of chocolate and all sorts of dried fruits. They are hard and crunchy because they are twice-cooked ("bis" is the Italian word for "twice" and "cotti" for "cooked"). This makes them ideal for dipping into dessert wine or coffee, as a delectable after dinner treat. But they are equally good with some tea or just on their own. Recipes for Biscotti date back as far as the 13th century in Italy.
Almond, Hazelnut and Chocolate Biscotti
Ingredients for the Biscotti
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) whole almonds
- 50 grams (1.7 ounces) whole hazelnuts
- 100 grams (3.5 ounces) dark chocolate of your choice (I use Lindt Excellence 70% cocoa solids)
- 125 grams ( 4.4 ounces) AP (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- one pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla sugar
- 125 grams (4.4 ounces) powdered sugar
- 25 grams (0.8 ounce/2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 egg (L), free range or organic if possible
Preparation of the Hazelnuts and Almonds
(you can skip these steps if you have almonds and hazelnuts that are already blanched)
- Place the almonds in a pot of boiling water, boil for about one minute, carefully pour them through a sieve, place them on a kitchen towel and squeeze the almonds out of their skins.
- Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit).
- In a baking pan toast hazelnuts in one layer in middle of oven 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub nuts in towel to remove loose skins (don't worry about skins that don't come off) and cool completely.
Preparation of the Cookies
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (unbleached if possible or use Silpat baking mats).
- Chop the chocolate into chunks (this is best done using a serrated knife).
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, powdered sugar, and vanilla sugar until well combined.
- Add the butter and egg and stir all the ingredients together until the mixture is well combined and begins to comes together as a dough.
- Add the whole almonds, hazelnuts and chocolate chunks and using your hands knead the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface.
- Divide the dough into two equal parts.
- Wrap each dough piece in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for abut thirty minutes and up to a day.
- When you are ready to bake the Biscotti, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit), take the dough pieces out of the fridge and dust your work surface with some more flour. Then shape the dough into two fat logs.
- Transfer the two logs of the dough to your prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the logs have doubled in size.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven, place on a cooling rack and leave to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Reduce your oven temperature to 150 degrees Celsius (300 degrees Fahrenheit).
- When the logs have cooled but are still warm, carefully transfer them to a cutting board and slice each about 1 cm (½ inches) thick, you should cut on the diagonal, using a very sharp knife.
- Place each Biscotti slice onto a baking sheet or onto cooling racks that you place onto the baking sheets thereby allowing for the hot air to circulate around each Biscotti cookie slice and return the baking sheet to the oven for a further 10 to 15 minutes, or until crisp, golden-brown and cooked through.
- Transfer to cooling racks and cool completely.
- Place them in cookie tins, they keep well for up to one month.
Twice-baked, these sophisticated Italian-style crunchy Almond, Hazelnut and Dark Chocolate Biscotti are not only a perfect foodie gift, but are just the thing to accompany a silky dessert or a strong espresso.