Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hazelnut and Cranberry Biscotti

The holiday season and baking go hand-in-hand.  I started baking (and catering) quite a bit during this time of year several years ago, and it has never gone out of style.  It's a wonderful time of year, indeed, for creating and sharing delicious, festive bites like Biscotti.  

Biscotti means "twice-baked" in Italian and the technique of baking them twice yields the crunchy, delectable cookie we all know and love.  Toasted hazelnuts, dried cranberries and orange zest combine to form a truly scrumptious cookie that's perfect for breakfast (dunking in coffee and tea, preferred -:)), snacking, or as a light dessert course.  

However you decide to indulge, you're sure to enjoy this sweet creation and loads of...Happy Eating! 

Hazelnut and Cranberry Biscotti
1/2 cup (4 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes.  If still in the skin, remove the skin, chop and set aside.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on high speed, cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow.  Add the sugar and continue beating to combine.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well on low speed after each addition.  Beat in the vanilla on low speed until blended.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix on low speed.  Mix or stir in the hazelnuts, cranberries, and orange zest until evenly distributed.  The batter should be very soft.

Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half.  With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto a parchment lined baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches thick.  Place on one side of the baking sheet and repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs.  (They'll spread as they bake.)

Bake the logs until the edges are golden, about 25-30 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the logs cool for 10 minutes.  Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1/2 wide.  Carefully turn the slices on their sides and return them to the oven.  (If you run out of room, use an additional baking sheet.)

Bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes longer.  Let cool completely on the pans on wire racks.  Store in an airtight container.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma 


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