Tag Archives: hazelnut

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.

Pasta with garlic & hazelnuts

30 May

I just couldn’t not think about Christmas. Last night, I mean. As I was cooking this stuff.

See, nine out of ten times Aunt Rita serves a version of this pasta to start off our big family meal on Christmas Eve. That would be right after we’ve plowed through a couple trays of Anna’s baked clams, of course.

First thing to do is lightly toast the hazelnuts, either in a pan (as shown) or on a baking sheet in the oven. This is around two-thirds of a cup of nuts and it took less than five minutes to toast them. Then set them aside for later.

Saute a couple good-sized garlic cloves and a little crushed hot pepper in extra virgin olive oil.

Okay, you can consider this next step optional. Those are anchovy fillets I’ve added, but I know a lot of you don’t go for that and so skip this step if you want. (I’d up the amount of garlic, though.)

Add the hazelnuts and turn up the heat to high. (I’ve left the nuts whole here but you can lightly crush them too if you like.)

Add your pasta of choice (angel hair here) and enough of the pasta water (be sure to save a couple cups) to keep things moist. This is around a half pound of pasta and I used a good half cup of the pasta water. (About the water: It’s a pretty important ingredient in this dish, so make sure that it’s very well salted.)

And there you go. Christmas in May.

Aunt Rita would’ve liked this version, I’m pretty sure.

Homemade Nutella

3 Feb
Some things are best left to the cold and faceless experts. Such is the case with Nutella, my favorite before-bedtime spoonful of sweetness.
Ferrero, Nutella’s multinational manufacturer, is a far more reliable source for the creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread than I will ever be.
Not that I haven’t tried. In the past several weeks I have made two different batches of homemade Nutella, thank you very much. One was a disaster, the other an acceptable imitation but not in the slightest way memorable.
Coincidentally, and as fabulously idiotic luck would have it, I learned just last week that Saturday, February 5, will mark the fifth annual celebration of World Nutella Day. The event, concocted by a couple of Americans living in Italy, appears, as best I can tell, to call upon cooks around the globe to, well, cook something, anything using Nutella. If you are in Texas this weekend, do not be surprised if you are offered a Nutella enchilada, or perhaps a barbecued Nutella cheeseburger. If you are in Krakow, rest assured there is some person nearby who has just slaved over a batch of Nutella-filled pierogi. Traveling the South East Asian Peninsula, are you? Maybe you can score a few bites of banana-Nutella tempura.
I had never heard of World Nutella Day before either, but it seems that a lot of other people have. I checked over on Facebook where, as you might expect, the “event” has its own page; nearly 17,000 people “like” it. Over on Twitter, WND has more than 2,000 followers. (I am positively green with envy on both these points, I’ll have you know. As of this writing, a mere 54 Facebook users “like” Mister Meatball and there are even fewer Twitter “followers” than that.)
So, what was the point of attempting a homemade version of the Italian condiment? I could say that the holidays, when the first batch was attempted, might have had something to do with my enthusiasm. But do you want to know the truth? It beats the absolute hell out of me what the point of all this was.
I like the stuff. I saw a recipe. It happens.
You start with lightly roasted and skinned hazelnuts.
Work them in the food processor until they liquify. (This will take some time, so be patient. I was not at all patient the first time and it proved my undoing.)
Vanilla, confectioner’s sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and hazelnut oil are next up.
Mix them together and add to the liquified hazelnut mix.
Process about a minute more.
And there you go, homemade Nutella.
Well, sort of. The real Nutella is on the left, mine’s on the right.
Not bad. In fact, pretty tasty, if coarser in texture than the real stuff, and not as sweet.
On the other hand, I still know how to get my hands on the real Nutella, the one that’s made in Italy (it’s produced all over the world, you know), and so I’m not sure what the point would be of going through all this again.
Maybe I’ll just stick with meatballs.

Homemade Nutella
Recipe adapted from the Los Angeles Times
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
2 cups raw hazelnuts
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil, more as needed (I had hazelnut oil in the house, but if you don’t, and don’t want to buy it, I’d think canola oil might do.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts evenly over a cookie sheet and roast until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer the hazelnuts to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins. (I went with already-skinned hazelnuts on my second try, and roasted them a little less time.)
In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes.
Add the cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla, salt and oil to the food processor and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter; if it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved. Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Allow the spread to come to room temperature before using, as it thickens considerably when refrigerated. It will keep for at least a week.