Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

nutella 2

If you have not yet celebrated World Nutella Day, you may want to start planning now for the big day on February 5, 2014. Quite a few foods have national holidays, so why not Nutella? For example, February 18th is National Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day. February 21st is National Sticky Bun Day. National Zucchini Day is August 18th. August 6th is National Root Beer Float Day. And, April 20th is Lima Bean Respect Day. And why settle for just a day, when you can celebrate a food for an entire week. The second week in January is National Pizza Week,  the first week in November is National Fig Week, and the fourth week in February is National Pancake Week. And for those of you who just can’t get enough of the food festivities, there are entire months declared for resurrecting the popularity of some food and drinks. You may find it interesting to know that January is National Candy Month, National Hot Tea Month (obviously not to be confused with the black sheep of the family, iced tea), National Meat Month, National Oatmeal Month, National Soup Month, National Wheat Bread Month, and Prune Breakfast Month. So, why not National Nutella Day? In our house, however, we don’t need a government decreed holiday to enjoy the good stuff.

We have yet to come across an Italian home that does not have a jar of Nutella in the cupboard and at least one extra jar in the pantry. We would like to say we don’t eat it directly out of the jar with a spoon, but we’d be lying. We use Nutella for dipping apples or strawberries or pretzels, making grilled Nutella and banana sandwiches, lathering on pizzelles, and spreading on biscotti. However, including Nutella in biscotti dough is new for us. While delicious on their own, the addition of a layer of Nutella and chopped hazelnuts elevates these tasty treats to a level of decadence. The creaminess of the Nutella with the crispness of the biscotti, each bite infused with chocolate and hazelnut, will not disappoint. We were in the car yesterday when my daughter’s favorite song came on the radio and she said, “When this song is on, it makes my feet feel like conducting.” We think these biscotti come pretty close to making our feet do the same thing.

nutella collage

Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ¾ cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup 100% dark chocolate cocoa powder

2 eggs and 2 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract extract

½ cup Nutella

½ chopped hazelnuts

____________________

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, vanilla extract, and Nutella.

4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes. 

6. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

7. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

8. Spread Nutella on the top of each biscotti and sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts.

____________________

What to do with the ends #13: Throw the ends in a game of hopscotch instead of rocks.

 

Chocolate and Marzipan Biscotti with Almondolas

almondola 3

I am a lover of all things almond. I love dark chocolate covered almonds, honey roasted almonds, and those crunchy cinnamon coated almonds that come warm in a paper cone from street vendors. I adore the Baltimore Coffee and Tea Company’s Toasted Almond coffee with a splash of almond milk. A big bowl of salted chocolate almond ice cream makes me happy. And I can’t forget marzipan, which I have been known to snack on to the point of it being considered an addiction. The kids love to snack on almonds, certainly appreciate a piece of toast lathered in almond butter, and will never say no to the sliced almond cookies from Vaccaro’s Italian Pastry Shop in Baltimore’s Little Italy.

So, when coming up with this recipe we tried to think of as many ways as we could to pack in the almonds and satisfy our addiction. We used almond meal, almond extract, almondolas, and marzipan. When you knead the dough, the marzipan tends to spread and leaves ribbons of almond flavor throughout the biscotti. Almondolas, almonds coated with chocolate, hazelnut paste, and powdered sugar, don’t last long in our house. So when we buy them, we use them right away.

almondola 2

 

Chocolate and Marzipan Biscotti with Almondolas

YIELD: approximately two dozen

2 ½ cups flour

½ cup almond meal

1 cup sugar

2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

¼ cup dark chocolate cocoa powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs and 1 egg white

1 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup almondolas

½ heaping cup diced marzipan

____________________

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the middle of the oven.

2. In a large flat-bottomed bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, and cinnamon.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg white, and almond extract.

4. With a rubber spatula, stir the egg mixture into the flour mixture until the dough just starts to come together. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough in the bowl until all the ingredients are incorporated and the dough is tacky.

5. Add the almondolas and marzipan, and knead the dough until incorporated, about 10 to 20 times.

6. Separate the dough in half. Form two logs, approximately 3 inches wide and 1 inch high on a parchment lined baking sheet. Leave several inches between the logs, the dough will spread as it bakes. Firmly press the top with granulated sugar.

7. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until the tops begin to crack or split. Transfer logs to a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

8. Transfer biscotti logs to a cutting board. Slice the biscotti on a diagonal and place cut side down on the same parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for an additional 20 minutes, turning the biscotti once halfway through. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.

____________________

What to do with the ends #12: Give the ends to the kids and let them play biscotti tag in the back yard. When they are done throwing them at each other, leave them for the birds and squirrels. (I can’t take credit for this idea. It is actually my brother’s brainchild. And I am imaging he would have enjoyed throwing the ends at my head when we were kids!)