Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

 

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day.  Happy Valentine’s Day!  I think chocolate is a must-do today, right?  I made these biscotti to take to a coffee for an international group here, where we were all advised to take something sweet or savory, wear red, and bring a gift.  Of course, there were all sorts of treats on hand, but I am quite happy that no one brought anymore biscotti.

I personally love biscotti, which in Italy they are actually called Cantuccini, since biscotti just means cookie.  I have been making them since times immemorial, I think since I was 16 or so, for my mother’s bridge games.  Rarely do I make them with chocolate though, since I find them harder to pair with dessert wines.  Alas, the chocolate tradition won over today, so I naturally decided to pair them with hazelnuts, since all things that resemble nutella are delicious in my book.

I really like these biscotti because not only are they incredibly chocolatey, I don’t use any fats like butter or oil so they are not sooooo damaging to your waistline!  If you can, try to use some high quality chocolate, such as Valrhona, since the main ingredient is chocolate!

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Makes about 30 biscotti (Adapted from the New York Times Recipe)

1/2 cup whole toasted hazelnuts

1 1/4 cups four

1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder

pinch of salt

3/4 tsp baking powder

2 large eggs

3/4 cups sugar

2 tbsp sanding sugar

1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  In a large bowl, sift together the flour, chocolate, salt and baking powder, set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the eggs and sugar, beat on medium speed until just mixed.  Reserve one tbsp of the egg mix in a small bowl.

Add the dry ingredients, a little at a time, and beat on low-speed until just incorporated.  Fold in the hazelnuts.

Form into a log shape, about 18 inches long and 3 inches wide, and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Brush on the egg mix you set aside, dust with sanding sugar and the black pepper.

Place in the oven and cook for about 15-20 minutes, or firm.  Take out and let cool for 5 minutes before cutting into diagonal slices, 1 inch thick, with a sharp serrated knife.  Place back on the cookie sheet, on their side, and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack, and they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

 

Panellets – Catalan Almond, Sweet Potato and Pine Nut Cookies

Panellets

This year, instead of celebrating Halloween, and making all sorts of goodies relevant to my favorite holiday, I’ve decided to celebrate my wonderful city’s tradition of Panellets.  Why, you ask?  Well, because it is the last year that I celebrate this tradition.  You see, in about a month, we are moving to Madrid.

Panellets are these incredibly moist and delicious cookies that are like little pillows of heaven.  They are typically eaten on November 1st, which is All Saints’ Day here, which is called “La Castanyada”, meaning the day of chestnuts.  You eat them for dessert with a nice glass of dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts.  Very yummy indeed.  Now, as all good recipes go, there is the catch, to use sweet potatoes or not?  Some people say it is a sacrilege, others say it imparts a moistness that you don’t get if you only use the almonds.  I chose to use the sweet potatoes, because they’re good for you!  And traditionally, they are coated with pine nuts, but lately they come covered in coconut and almonds too.  I did a few in coconut because I ran out of pine nuts.  The choice is up to you!

Now, this is the first time I have made them at home.  After 10 years of being here, I am ashamed of this.  But, to be totally honest, it’s like making Oreos at home.  They are so readily available at this time of year that it almost is stupid to make them.  But, I have to admit that, this is so far from the truth.  Now that I have accomplished this feat, I have to tell you, this is baking 101.  So super easy.  And, the bonus is that they taste MUCH MUCH MUCH better than the store-bought ones.

Now, who feels like a fool?

I really hope that you try to make these, not only are they tasty, they’re pretty healthy as far as cookies go.  No butter.  No gluten.  If you really want to make them über healthy, abstain from the regular sugar and go brown or with stevia.  Up to you.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

To make about 30 cookies

250g sweet potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and mashed

450g ground almonds, preferably marcona

Grated lemon peel from 1 whole lemon

400g sugar

3 eggs, separated, keeping the whites in one bowl, and TWO yolks in another, and ONE yolk in another bowl

400g pine  nuts (coconut and crushed almonds optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C (350F).  In a large bowl, mix the mashed sweet potatoes with the sugar.  Mix in the almond and lemon peel.  Add two of the egg yolks and mix well.

Make small balls about 2 inches in diameter.  Beat your egg whites slightly.  Now align your bowls with the egg whites, the pine nuts and the rest of the coatings if using.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Now dip your cookie balls in the egg white, and roll in the pine nuts (or the other coatings if using) and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat until you have finished all the cookies.  Brush them with the 1 egg yolk, and bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheet and refrigerate for about an 1.

Serve with dessert wine and some hot roasted chestnuts!

Visca Catalunya!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla

Peanut butter, Almond, and Pine Nut Slab Cookies

Peanut butter, almond and pine nut slab cookies

It’s cause I was sick.  I needed cookies.  I had the cookie monster on my shoulder saying, COOKIE…COOKIE….YOU WANT COOKIE!  COOKIE IS GOOD FOR YOU  WHEN YOU SICK.

So I listened.  And I made these three nut cookies.  Just cause I love peanut butter.  And almonds.  And pine nuts.  So why not all three in one?

Also, slab or log cookies are perfect.  You don’t have to make 36 of them and then you either eat them all in one go….or they go bad.  Slab cookies you can chill, cut the amount you want to bake, and then freeze the rest of the dough.  How great is that?

So I hope you give in to your inner cookie monster and make these COOKIES NOW!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from “bigfatcookies” by Elinor Klivans

1 cup unbleached flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup peanut butter, room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup coarsely chopped and whole pine nuts

Sift the flour, almonds and baking soda in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the peanut butter and butter until smooth and blended together.  Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until blended, about 30 seconds.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until thoroughly blended, about 1 minute.  On low-speed, add the flour mixture and blend until just incorporated.

Form the dough into a rough rectangular slab.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes, to firm the dough up a bit.

Check the dough and reshape into a “nicer” rectangle.  Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.  Or you can freeze it for a month; thaw in the fridge before using.

Preheat the oven to 350 deg. F (175 C).  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/3 inch slices.  (Slice as many or as few as you need).  Press the pine nuts into the cookies.  Bake for 14 minutes.  Cool them for 5 minutes on the same sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla