Did you know that the word biscotti comes from the neo-Latin word biscoctus, meaning “cooked twice”? I just learned that in the course of writing this post – I did some very scholarly research Wikipedia searching. By nature of their dryness, twice-baked baked goods last relatively longer before going bad, so foods prepared in this way were particularly useful in pre-modern times before refrigeration was an option.
Biscotti are typically served with a beverage for dunking (in Italy, with certain types of wine as a dessert, but elsewhere, typically with coffee). You might think that because I’m not really a coffee drinker, I wouldn’t be into biscotti, but for whatever reason I’ve always been fond of it. My grandmother used to keep chocolate-covered biscotti in her pantry, and, as a kid, I would sometimes sneak one during the long expanse between lunch and dinner to tide me over.
These cranberry hazelnut biscotti came about when I was trying to use up some extra hazelnuts after making several batches of truffles, and they really hit the spot – drizzled with chocolate but not too sweet (which was particularly welcome after the truffles!), crunchy/crumbly, and punctuated with fruits and nuts. Feel free to substitute other types of dried fruits and nuts – just don’t skip the chocolate!
I baked this batch of biscotti just to have around the house, but in the past I’ve also made biscotti to give as a gift – it’s a great recipe to have on hand when you’re going to a party and need a quick host(ess) gift or when you just want to show someone you’re thinking about him or her!
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter or margarine (dairy-free is fine), at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup roasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 tablespoon orange zest (from 1 medium orange)
- 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- In the bowl of a mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract, eggs, and orange zest.
- In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the sugar and butter mixture, stirring until smooth. Mix in the dried cranberries and chopped hazelnuts.
- Split the dough into two halves. On a well-floured surface, shape each half into a roll of about 12 inches long (the dough will be sticky, so flour liberally!). Place the rolls on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat. Gently flatten each roll with your hands, to a width of 3-4 inches.
- Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes, or until slightly golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 and allow the biscotti rolls to cool for 5 minutes.
- Cut the biscotti into slices (if you are using silicone mats, be sure to transfer the biscotti to a cutting board!), about 3/4-inch thick. Return the slices to the baking sheet(s), placing them with a cut side against the sheet. Bake at 300 for 45 minutes, or until the biscotti are hard to the touch, flipping them halfway through the baking time to the other cut side.
- Once the biscotti are cool, melt the chocolate chips (either in the microwave or in a double boiler). Drizzle the melted chocolate over the biscotti with a spoon or transfer it to a plastic bag to pipe it on top.