Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hazelnut (Cornmeal) Biscotti

I used to compare cooking with little kids like having sharks snapping at your ankles while everyone devolves into an agitated state of panicked frenzy.  I oh so wish this was an exaggeration.  Now cooking with my (older) kids is something I enjoy and savor and only occasionally do I still loose my cool.  As I tested out the Zuni Cornmeal Biscotti (pg 478) I kept thinking ... this is so pleasant and seams to be coming together just as intended.  That's weird.  Then, I realized the missing ingredients - my sharks, I mean, helpers.

Tonight the boys wanted to watch The Incredibles, and having almost all the lines memorized by now - I opted to bake ... The peacefulness in the kitchen was divine, equal only to the biscotti.  The flavor to me is really more hazelnut than cornmeal, and the recipe below is adapted from the Zuni Cafe Cookbook in regards to salt (less) and cornmeal (more).  Ironically, I think this would be an incredibly fun and straightforward recipe to make with kids ... with a little Aloha, of course ... imagine numerous smaller biscotti logs rolled by smaller hands and a mismatch of final cut pieces.

Luckily, I may have another chance.  There are two versions to test out ... Coffee in hand.  Dunk. Crunch.

Hazelnut Biscotti

I like that the butter and egg are supposed to be cold.  I NEVER remember or know far enough in advance when I am going to make something to bring the ingredients to room temp.  C'est la vie ~

Time: 50 minutes
Cost: ~ $5 (depends on if you have anise seeds and anise flavor in the pantry - I didn't, but am glad I do now, so I am ready for the next batch)

3/4 cup hazelnuts
4 T cold salted butter
1 large cold egg
1 1/2 tsp anise flavor
1 1/4 c flour (whole wheat white ok)
3 T fine cornmeal (corn flour ok)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp anise seeds

Preheat oven to 325 deg and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

If the hazelnuts still have their skins on - roast on a baking sheet until fragrent, about 15 minutes.  Place hazelnuts into a spread out kitchen towel and gather "bean bag style" and massage to loosen skins.  Pick out the nuts and discard the skins.  Finely shop 1/4c of the nuts; coarsely chop remaining 1/2c nuts and place in large metal bowl.  Add flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and anise seeds and whisk to combine.

In bowl of electric mixer "barely" cream butter and sugar.  Beat in egg and anise flavor to combine.  Add flour mixture in ~ 3 additions and stir until mix well.

Gather dough in your hands and divide in half.  On the same cutting board where you cut the nuts roll out one half of the dough into a long 1-inch thick log, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. (You may need to dust the cutting board with flour, but I found the nut dust from the chopping was perfect).   Repeat with remaining dough, and place logs with ~2 inches b/w them.  Bake for ~ 20 minutes, until "slightly brown and firm on the surface".

Transfer the cookie logs to cutting board and slice on an angle ~1/2" thick.  Place cut side down back onto the warm baking sheet and return to oven for 5 minutes.  Cool completely on baking sheet and transfer to airtight container.

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