When I think about my childhood and baking, my mind often goes back to the summer holidays and spending weeks at a time staying at my cousin's house. We would get up to all sorts of mischief, and a lot of the time this involved getting messy in the kitchen. Much to my Aunt's utter dismay we would create apple cake that "just didn't taste right" - so we added a bit more vanilla..and maybe some bicarb soda…and perhaps a little more sugar; chocolate slice that called for 100g of butter and we "somehow" got distracted (probably through too much giggling and not enough concentration) and added 400g instead; not to mention the custard biscuits that we made solely for the purpose of eating the dough (why bother baking it, when the dough tastes 10 times better!).
Although we have both come a long way since those humble days in the kitchen, we still look back and laugh at what we got up to. I had many fond memories staying at my cousin's house, and it was during one of my stays there that I tasted my first biscotti. We were probably watching an episode of Gilmore Girls when my Aunt brings out a plate of almond biscotti (which, perhaps thankfully my cousin and I didn't bake!), along with a glass of port each to dip the biscotti in, and that was a snack for the evening.
Biscotti is actually derived from the words "bis" and"cotto", meaning "twice-cooked" in Italian. Which is basically what biscotti is. Because it is baked twice, it is crunchier and drier than a regular biscuit - so it's perfect for dunking in some coffee or tea, or a little wine. I love the combination of chocolate and hazelnut, so for me, this biscotti was a winner, and perfect for an after-dinner treat.
Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti
Recipe by Jane Hann
makes about 40 biscotti
125g raw hazelnuts
1 2/3 cups (250g) plain flour
2 tablespoons Dutch cocoa
3/4 cup (175g) caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Finely grated rind of 1 orange
100g dark chocolate
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1. Preheat oven to 200˚C. Roast nuts on a tray in the oven for 10 minutes , or until golden and skins are starting to peel. Using a clean tea towel, rub the skins off the hazelnuts. Chop coarsely.
2. Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Combine the eggs, orange rind and nuts in a separate bowl. Gradually add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir to form a dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Divide dough in half and shape into two 25cm-long logs. Place logs onto a tray, lined with baking paper, and bake in pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and stand for 5 minutes.
3. Slice logs diagonally into 5mm-thick slices. Place on oven trays and return to oven for 10 minutes, or until dry. Cool on a wire rack.
4. Combine chocolate and oil in a heat-proof bowl and place over a pan of boiling water (ensuring the water doesn't touch the bowl). Melt chocolate gently. Once melted, drizzle over the biscotti. Leave to set. Biscotti will keep in an airtight container for approximately 3 days.