Ah, the weekend. Everyone’s beloved pair of days. I finished my midterms as of Friday, but I didn’t get to take the whole weekend off, as much as I would’ve liked to. Research paper due dates are looming and I don’t want to be busily writing them last-minute, like I do every semester. Procrastination is a temptatious friend.
I started on a paper on Saturday and managed to get 250 words. In 3 hours. Not the best start, but a start nonetheless. And, as I tend to do when writing papers, I rewarded myself for all my hard work. I told myself that I would bake biscotti tomorrow. Once I made up my mind that the reward was already going to happen, there was no way I could write any more, even if I wanted to. This is a reoccurring problem for me. I do a tiny bit of work and reward myself with an hour break or a cookie or an episode of Family Guy. Needless to say, I don’t get a lot of work done unless it’s due the next day.
So, on Sunday, I woke up late, put on my coziest sweater, put on my classical music, had a cup of tea, and set about making my biscotti. These are the things that will always relax and calm me. Classical music especially. I feel smarter just listening to it, my logic being that if babies can listen to Beethoven and be smarter later in life, why can’t it work with a 19 year old? Flawless logic, right? It also makes my little apartment feel posh and sophisticated.
My love for classical music started when my dad used to live a ways away from the school that my brother and I went to. I was quite young, maybe ten years old or so. In the morning on the drive to school, my dad would play CBC Radio 2 Classical. We would still be kind of sleepy and it was nice to not listen to news or traffic reports. I remember those car rides so fondly. In high school, I would always have a few classical songs on my ipod. And now, I have the CBC Radio app on my phone so I just put the classical station on while I’m baking. It’s the perfect relaxation music for me.
Biscotti are always perfect for those moments when you’re chilling on the couch, sipping your tea or coffee, and wanting something more than a cookie. Cookies are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes they don’t do so well when dunked into tea. They crumble and sink to the bottom of your tea and just make a mess when you’re finished. Biscotti are different. They’re made to be dunked. They’re the cookies slightly more sophisticated cousin. If I’m munching on a biscotti in a coffee shop, I feel grown up. If I’m munching on a cookie in a coffee shop, I feel like a kid who is too picky to eat real food so their parents bought them a cookie to shut them up. I'll still eat my cookies in a coffee shop, though.You’ll notice that my logic doesn’t tend to make sense to anyone but me.
Recipe adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Baking Book
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and skinned, then coarsely chopped
3 ounces dark chocolate
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon light corn syrup
First off, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the hazelnuts on the parchment paper and toast them in the oven, about 8 minutes. The skins should be dark brown and they should smell heavenly. Take them out and let them cool for a few minutes. The way I skin them is by rubbing each one in between my fingers. Alternatively, you can wrap them in a kitchen towel and rub them. Either way, not every bit of skin is going to come off each nut, which is totally okay. To chop them, I wrapped them in a kitchen towel and crushed them with a rolling pin.
Line another baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter until light and fluffy, then add the sugar. Beat until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
In another bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until just blended. Stir in the hazelnuts. At this point, the dough is going to be soft and similar to a cookie dough.
Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface and divided it in half. Put one half on a baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick. Do the same with the other half. Leave some space in between them because they will spread.
Bake them for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the edges are golden. Take them out and let them cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut into slices. Diagonal or horizontal slices will work fine. Turn them on their side carefully, as they're still fragile. Put them back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
While the biscotti are cooling, make the chocolate drizzle. Put everything into a double boiler and heat until everything is melted. Make sure the biscotti are completely cool before putting on the chocolate. I just used a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the biscotti, which didn't make a very beautiful drizzle. You can dip the biscotti in the chocolate if you want a cleaner look. Cool the chocolate covered biscotti in the fridge to harden the chocolate.
Biscotti can last quite a while, so you can make big batches! Store in an airtight container and enjoy with your favorite tea or coffee