Hi. I haven’t blogged in something like 6 weeks, which I don’t think has happened in the entire 5.5-year lifespan of Stellina Sweets. But I have a very excellent reason! I have been feverishly preparing and packing to move abroad (read = NOT FUN), and I’m finally here in Israel, where I plan to spend the next year… and then we’ll see. 😉 It’s been fabulous spending time with cousins and getting to know the land of my birth– I will surely be posting a lot of Middle Eastern-inspired recipes in the coming months! I’m itching to set up my kitchen, but alas, my cake pans and baking tools are somewhere in the no-man’s-land of shipping. I even sold my beloved workhorse, my red KitchenAid stand mixer– yes, there was ugly-crying. I am now a person who doesn’t own a mixer. Who am I, even?? Somehow that blessed machine became a part of my identity, and now she has a new home. What is her new owner making? What does her new kitchen look like? I shall never know, but I appreciate the many years of baked goods that she lovingly churned out for me. Fortunately, I have secured access to at least 3 different stand mixers here in Israel, so there’s no reason to despair. Someday when the time is right, I will purchase a new one and I will have just as much room in my heart for her. Sigh.
Anyway, I have some Baked Sunday Mornings posts to catch up on. I managed (insanely and recklessly) to bake our recent recipes before I left, but didn’t have one freaking moment to write up the blog posts, so I’m glad I’ve been able to finally take a breath and write about the Hazelnut Cinnamon Chip Biscotti from BAKED: New Frontiers in Baking that I made for this weekend’s recipe assignment. Actually, the group was making a pistachio-cherry variation, but I chose this version instead, and in fact doubled the batch so I could make one half with hazelnuts and the other with pistachios– it was the cherries that I wasn’t crazy about.
I wasn’t especially thrilled with these unfortunately. I’ve just recently gained an appreciation for biscotti as a genre, and if I’m going to eat them, I’d like them to be crisp and elegant. Sadly, mine turned out not to be at all like that. They came out very American style, not Italian– that’s to say, rustic, chunky, and huge. The chocolate got melty and spread all over when I cut the loaves, and the dough looked ragged. If I made them again, I would split the dough into 2 loaves (or 4 for a double batch) and make smaller ones, as they are indeed gigantic as promised in the recipe.
To make the dough (which is easy to pull together), first beat the eggs with a mixture of sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt, then add vanilla, followed by the flour. The final addition is the mix-ins. I added chocolate chips to the entire double batch, then split the dough right before adding the nuts. I added 1½ cups chopped blanched hazelnuts to half, and 1 cup chopped pistachios to the other half. This is where I wondered if my dough had turned out right, since the other biscotti doughs that I’d made (which were admittedly few) were quite a bit stiffer. This one had the consistency of chocolate chip cookie dough, so it was difficult to shape it into logs.
If I were to make a double batch of this again in the future, I would not attempt to fit all of it on one baking sheet, because the loaves will spread a little. I got lucky that they stopped growing just as they started touching in the middle, but not so much that either was compromised/misshapen. (But again, I’d divide the dough into smaller loaves to begin with.)
The loaves baked for 25 minutes initially, though they were still too soft to cut, so I left them in for another 5 minutes or so. They’re not supposed to brown at this stage, so I didn’t want to leave them in too long; unfortunately, even after cooling for 10 minutes, the dough was so soft that when I tried to cut it into slices, it cut quite awkwardly, such that the chocolate chips didn’t stay very chip-like (got all melty), and the dough was rough and uneven. I did my best to cut them evenly and smoothly, but it wasn’t pretty. Furthermore, because the slices were so massive, I needed a second sheet pan to fit them, and I probably could’ve used a third one to avoid overcrowding.
Even after another half-hour or so in the oven, the biscotti were still rather soft. I hoped they’d finish firming up while they cooled, but the middles stayed kind of softish. I think this could be remedied by a) making smaller pieces, and b) putting fewer slices on each baking pan so that the air could better circulate.
My tasters liked these, but I didn’t feel like they were great. I don’t know that I’d make them again, but perhaps it would be worthwhile to try with the above modifications. P.S. I think the name is a bit of a misnomer, as it sounds like there are cinnamon chips in the biscotti (which would not be a bad thing), but they are actually quite chocolaty. If you’d like to give them a go, you can find the recipe for Pistachio-Cherry Biscotti at Baked Sunday Mornings, and simply add 1 teaspoon cinnamon into the sugar mixture, plus 1½ cups toasted blanched hazelnuts (I chopped them) and 10 ounces semisweet mini chocolate chips at the end, while omitting the pistachios and cherries. Also feel free to change up the mix-ins any other way you want– these biscotti are very customizable. Enjoy!
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2018.