Remember Biscotti?

When did biscotti become invisible? All the rage in the early ’90s, there is still a jar of these twice-baked Italian delights in nearly every coffee shop —some good, some bad, but nearly all just fine after a few seconds in a shot of espresso. But until this week’s Tuesday with Dorie challenge, Hazelnut Biscotti, I hadn’t tasted one in years.

I’m never going to let that happen again. If you leave the hazelnuts out of the equation, biscotti are easy to make. Make the dough – shape it into logs, bake it, cool it (I refrigerated mine overnight), slice it and bake again. The hands-on-time is way less than the average chocolate chip cookie, I promise.

But, once you factor the hazelnuts back in, things change.

Watching Alice Medrich (the baker who contributed this recipe to Baking with Julia) make the biscotti the whole process looks easy. It’s not.

Her method for skinning hazelnuts—boiling them for 5 minutes with baking soda, rinsing them in cold water and then slipping the skins off one at a time, is the best process I’ve ever found for getting this job done. But it’s still tedious and time consuming. Each nut must be individually skinned. On the show, Medrich makes this look like an instant process. But I knew, going into the recipe that it would take me at least a half an hour to skin a cup of filberts. And my guess was right on.

It’s a damn good thing hazelnuts taste so good. I love pecans and walnuts, but sometimes nothing but a hazelnut will do the job. Every time I skin a batch I promise myself I will never, ever do it again. But, inevitably, I do.

Many people know Alice Medrich as the First Lady of Chocolate. She founded (1976) Cocolat – a legendary Berkley chocolate shop (eventually a set of seven stores), after a chocolate epiphany in France. She is a pioneer of artesian chocolate in the United States. If it weren’t for Medrich, none of us would know about caco percentages, or realize that Hershey bars suck. If you haven’t read her books, (Cocolat and Bittersweet in particular), put them on your list, immediately.

I scaled the recipe up and added dark and white chocolate chunks. As Medrich says on the show, there’s no point in making a small amount of biscotti. There’s also no point in not adding chocolate.

You can find the recipe for Alice Medrich’s Hazelnut Biscotti on the blogs of our Tuesdays with Dorie hosts: Jodie of Homemade and Wholesome, and Katrina, of Baking and Boys. And you can see what all the participating bakers did with the recipe at Tuesdays with Dorie.


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Piebird on July 3, 2012 at 8:03 am

    Hah! I think you and I had the same views of Medrich and hazelnuts. we just said it in different ways! I love the extra bit of research you do for these posts. Thanks for the info!


  2. Beautiful! Love the chocolate additions, too. 🙂


  3. Alice’s trick on peeling the hazelnuts is more successful than toasting and trying to rub the skins off with a towel. Now that’s time consuming. I loved these and was surprised by how easy it was to make something so delicious. I’ll be making them again. Adding chocolate was a great idea. Nice job!


  4. Perfect post about the biscotti. And while I love the company Hersheys (I mean, it’s chocolate for goodness sake), I hate to say that since becoming such a chocolate snob over the last few years, I have to agree that their chocolate is no comparison to GREAT chocolate. I will be playing around with this recipe and adding more chocolate than just a drizzle. 😉


  5. Posted by Teresa on July 5, 2012 at 2:28 am

    We forewent the hazelnuts this time ’round, but did make a double batch so we could try two variations. I love the shape of your biscotti – they’re elegant and homey at the same time!


  6. Your biscotti looks great. Did you grate your chocolate? The chocolate looks marbled.


  7. Lovely cookies – hearing the trials of de-skinning makes me happy that I avoided this step…


  8. Love the addition of chocolate chunks. One of my favorite and first baking books was Cocolat – a must have! Easy and elegant recipes.


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