Chitlins, do you have any idea how hard it is to photograph biscotti to make them look as delicious as they taste? I’ll tell you it’s harder than I was willing to put the effort into last week, and I’m sorry for that. There were a number of melancholy events that didn’t exactly put me in the mood for really puttering over how to photograph some silly cookies (when you looked at the grand scheme of life).
Anyway, this wasn’t my first time at the biscotti rodeo, I’m a huge fan of them. Everyone’s always complaining they’re not sweet enough or they’re too crunchy or wah wah wah. Well that’s what makes them perfect for your non-sweets loving friends. All those people who claim not to like cookies and cakes. who are they!? This is what you make those people who sniff at your beautiful, sweet cupcakes.
I think the most eye-opening aspect of this recipe, for me, was the method used to skin the hazelnuts. Let me tell you a story. In grad school I took this class where we studied cookbooks from the 14th century to the 18th century. As part of our assignments we had to recreate a dish from the cookbook to see how effective they were. I chose a cookbook from the 14th century in France and picked a fairly innocuous recipe – a hazelnut milk of sorts.
I spent roughly an hour trying to toast and peel two cups of hazelnuts. And then I spent another hour trying to mash them in my tiny mortar and pestle with water, before I finally gave up and chucked the whole mess into the blender.
But this method, of boiling them with baking soda and then rubbing off the skins, BRILLIANT! It took me no more than 10 minutes and one sad dishtowel and voila, perfectly peeled hazelnuts! Love it. If they weren’t so expensive I’d be making hazelnut goodies left right and center.
I also made another batch where I substituted white chocolate and orange liquor/zest for the hazelnuts. The batter for that isn’t as tasty as the hazelnut one (watch out folks, you might eat all the batter before you even make the loaves!) but it makes for some delicious biscotti.