Tag Archives: giovani

Chocolate hazelnut biscotti

10 Mar

You don’t have to be a great baker to make respectable biscotti. I’m living proof of that. Besides, it rained all day today. I needed something to do.

In a large mixing bowl add the following: 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (a full teaspoon is fine), and a pinch of sea salt.

In a separate mixing bowl add 4 large eggs, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 1 teaspoon brandy. Mix until the eggs are somewhat thickened.

Gradually add the egg mixture into the dry mix and incorporate.

Add 1 cup of lightly crushed toasted hazelnuts and 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and mix until fully incorporated. (If the mix seems too dry add a little milk; I used a couple tablespoons.)

Divide the mix in half. On a floured surface take each half of the batch and form a log around a foot or more long and three or so inches wide.

Place both logs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with egg wash. Place in the oven preheated to 350 degrees F for around 25 minutes, rotating the sheet at the halfway mark.

Remove the logs and let them cool for 15 minutes.

With a serrated blade cut the logs into 1- to 1 1/2-inch slices.

Place the slices on a baking sheet and bake for around 10-15 minutes, then turn the slices over and bake for another 10-15 minutes. (Ten minutes each side should be fine for 1-inch pieces; thicker slices like these will take longer.)

When the pieces are nice and firm to the touch they’re done. Remove from the oven and allow to cool thoroughly, then place in an airtight container. The biscotti will last a couple weeks.

It’s always best to wait a couple days before eating the biscotti. No matter how many different kinds I’ve made over the years, the flavors always are enhanced over time. I usually wait at least 48 hours before serving. This batch is for Saturday night, after the osso buco I’ve got planned (today’s Thursday, by the way).

See, you’ve got plenty of time.

Giovani’s toast

8 Apr
All of us have friends who, for one reason or another, we worry about. I have a few of these people in my life at the moment, but none of them is more worrisome to me than Giovani.

The man is unhealthily obsessed with toasted bread. Not just any toasted bread, mind you. But perfectly toasted and served bread. Done in a manner that is, above all, proper. He actually thinks about this stuff, you know. A lot.

To prove that I’m not overstating, get a load of this picture. It was taken just this morning by my friend, at a luxurious vacation retreat, on an island where he and his husband Scott are supposed to be enjoying some much-needed together time. Giovani texted the toast photo to me, with the following message: “I’m a very happy man.”

I don’t know about you, but were I the “happy” guy texting a vacation picture to a pal thousands of miles away, you can be sure that it would not be the least bit similar to this photo.

Still not convinced that I have reason to be concerned about my friend’s obsessive behavior? Then try this one on for size. A while back Scott and Giovani were over the house for a dinner party. An hors d’oeuvre we were serving required a bit of toasted bread, and so Giovani was naturally put in charge of its manufacture. As mine is not the type of house that is equipped with a specialized toast server (see vacation photo of said device above), Giovani was forced to improvise.

I call it Breadhenge.

The idea here is to keep the toast slices vertical and separated. Stacking slices of warm toast, even for an instant, promotes unwanted humidity, which, according to my poor, tormented friend, “ruins everything!”

And you think you have problems.