Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I'm pretty glad the end of the year is coming. There'll be no major celebration for me (the other half is away in blistery Minnesota with the blokes) - just a good night in with the dog and a movie that hopefully doesn't involve love triangles or bad Al Pacino acting. Or decapitated bodies. A nice French movie, perhaps. Or Iron Man. Either way works.
Over Christmas my mum got me the glass Bialetti Mukka Express from Williams-Sonoma. It's a really pretty contraption, but I haven't had quite the Victrola experience with it yet. It bubbles my milk rapidly, then the froth dies away in a very disturbing way. It's like cappucino maker rabies. The video on the Williams-Sonoma website is a fake, I swear. Look at that man and his perfectly frothed cup of cappucino - I want to stab him with my faulty pressure valve...
One of the good things that came out of a half-arsed cappucino maker though, is my desire to be all faux Italian-suave. I made a batch of white-chocolate hazelnut and cranberries biscotti that I conjured from scratch. And while roasting hazelnuts is single-handedly the worse experience rubbing nuts (ahem!) you will ever have, it's well worth it since roasting brings out the smoky and earthy flavour of the nuts.
White chocolate is in itself a little sweet, so I was careful to use less sugar than normal. I know chocolate-connoisseurs will pooh-pooh at the idea of anything less than 65% cacao,but white chocolate really goes well with the hazelnuts and a cup of flat white coffee.
Oh, and while you're at it figuring out the calorie content of my biscotti, have an oogly-eyed moment at my very mischievious and rascally dachshund. He's one of those dogs that "counter-surf" acrobatically and eat chocolate.
White-chocolate, hazelnut and cranberries Biscotti
Makes about 36 biscotti
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 cup cranberries
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (roasted and skinned, see below)
Heat oven to 275°F and slowly roast shelled raw hazelnuts for about 15 - 20 minutes until the skins start to the flake and the nuts are browned. Remove nuts and place them on a kitchen towel. Gather up the ends of the towel and twist them tightly over the nuts. Allow the nuts to steam for 10 minutes, rubbing the occasionally to remove the skin. After 10 minutes, with the kitchen towel, rub the nuts in between you hands until almost all the skin is removed. Set aside to cool then roughly chop the cooled nuts in a food processor.
Bring the oven temperature up to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
In a medium bowl, combing the flour, baking powder, salt, nuts, chocolate and cranberries.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, vanilla and amaretto. Slowly add in the flour mixture bit by bit until a dough forms. The dough will be stiff.
Divide the dough into two balls. For each ball, transfer to baking sheet and using a rolling motion, extend the dough into a 12-inch log. Flatten the log into 7/8-inch thickness. You will have two loaves of dough measuring 12-inches long and 7/8-inches thick.
Bake at 350°F for 20 minutes until the logs are risen and just beginning to brown. The logs will be slightly soft. Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for about 20 minutes. This will allow the chocolate to set and make cutting easier.
Bring oven temperature down to 325°F.
Using a serrated knife, cut the baked logs diagonally into 1/2 inch widths. Place on baking sheet and toast each side of the biscotti for about 5 - 7 minutes until brown.
Cool completely on wire racks.