Vanilla Hazelnut Biscotti

Simple baking projects, like making homemade biscotti, are my favorites.  This week  I made two cakes that sounded good in print but didn’t turn out – maybe they contained too much fruit layered into the raw batter or were under baked (?) but they both had terrible sort of mushy textures.  The first cake was a banana rum raisin and the second one was a rose flavored raspberry filled loaf cake.  I guess the tip off should have been there were no photographs of either cake in the cookbooks I used and being slightly suspicious I do wonder why some recipes don’t have pictures!?

My tender biscotti filled with toasted hazelnuts and flavored with three kinds of vanilla are  all around good eating cookies that don’t need to be softened up by dunking.   I’m also sharing a few pictures-always a good sign of baking success.

They would also be good served with espresso but mainly I like to keep them in a container in my kitchen to help myself when the cravings for vanilla hazelnut biscotti hit which for me could be just about at any moment.

I gave these fairly thick sliced biscotti a good sprinkling of lavender vanilla sugar.  The best way to evenly slice biscotti  is to slice straight down through the cooled baked log with a serrated knife.  I like to toast one side and then flip to toast the other side until they are a light golden brown in color.  Make sure to lower the heat of the oven before toasting your biscotti.

It’s easy to get into biscotti baking and fun to collect favorite recipes.  They also make great gifts, especially for shipping around the holidays.  I shipped a box of my Nutella biscotti for Valentine’s Day to  Athens and they arrived weeks later still fresh.  I didn’t realize how long the package would take to arrive when I shipped them but thankfully I made and sent biscotti which are a very forgiving traveling cookie.  A good eating, dunking and traveling cookie- I like having biscotti in my cookie jar.

Vanilla Hazelnut Biscotti

Yield: 30-35 biscotti

Adapted from King Arthurs Flour.

Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup Italian style flour, King Arthurs Flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry roasted hazelnuts, Oregon Lewis variety hazelnuts
  • 1 tablespoon lavender vanilla bean sugar, Savory Spice Shop, for sprinkling on top

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Line two baking sheets with parchment, one extra for toasting the biscotti.
  3. In a medium size bowl combine the flours, salt and baking powder, set aside.
  4. In the bowl of a standing mixer beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and smooth.
  5. Beat in the vanilla and eggs, scrape down as needed.
  6. Turn speed to low and beat in the flour mixture until smooth, stir in the hazelnuts.
  7. The dough will be sticky.
  8. Using slightly wet hands shape the dough into a smooth log, slightly angled on the baking sheet.
  9. Sprinkle the top with the lavender vanilla bean sugar.
  10. Bake the log for about 30 minutes or until light golden brown, remove from the oven.
  11. Reduce the oven temperature to 325F.
  12. Wait until the log has cooled before slicing.
  13. Cut the log crosswise or angled into slices, depending on the size and shape biscotti you like.
  14. Place the biscotti slices on the baking sheets.
  15. Bake for about 12 minutes and flip sides and baking pans from top to bottom of oven, continuing to bake for 12 more minutes or until light golden brown on both sides.
  16. Remove biscotti from oven and cool on metal racks.
  17. Store in airtight container-they will keep for weeks.
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Caramel Apple Jam

Attention Gravenstein apple lovers! The all too short but oh-so-delicious Gravenstein apple season is under way in Sonoma County! This past Saturday at my favorite Santa Rosa farmers market I met a nice lady from Walker’s Apples and picked up a 5 pound bag of my favorite Gravenstein apples. I bought enough for both this caramel apple jam and brown butter apple tartlets which disappeared quickly from my kitchen, what happened-where did they all go? Apparently my tartlets did not make it to the freezer to enjoy at a later date. However, I will share the tartlet recipe later this week. I try to use Gravenstein apples in new recipes each time I get my hands on a bag of these beauties. My previous neighbors used to give me a bag of pears from their tree, but since they moved away the only pears I see in my back yard are the ones the raccoons drag over the fence that include a few teeth marks, not so appetizing looking. It’s early for pear season here but the reason I bring it up is because I used to make a recipe for pear butter that was caramel flavored and wildly popular with both friends and family. So, I thought why not try something similar with my Gravenstein apples…I did and also added a healthy splash of Calvados to the finished apple jam -which was a stroke of genius, if I don’t say so myself! This apple jam is very close to apple butter in texture but as it’s not cooked over a low heat for as long as apple butter so it doesn’t have apple butter’s dark color. I think it’s amber color is actually prettier than traditional apple butter. A spoonful of caramel apple jam spread on buttery toast is a swell way to start your day but I will issue a slight warning-Be Careful Using A Spoon Around One Of These Jars!! Beware- Addictive Cooked Apple Substance!! That would be my Gravenstein apple jam-a new recipe that’s a keeper.

Caramel Apple Jam

Yield: 3 pints

Adapted from The Joy Of Jams, Jellies, And Other Sweet Preserves by Linda Ziedrich

Ingredients

  • 3 & 1/2 pounds Gravenstein Apples, cored and sliced (unpeeled)
  • 3 & 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons calvados
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Instructions

  1. Place the apple slices in a heavy preserving pan and cook partially covered over low heat until soft, about 20 minutes.
  2. I added a little water to keep apples from sticking to the pan.
  3. Puree the apples in a food mill using the medium screen, set aside in a bowl.
  4. Wash and dry the preserving pan before placing 2 cups of the sugar, the water and the lemon juice in the pan over a high heat.
  5. Bring the syrup mixture to a boil, without stirring.
  6. Gently boil the syrup until medium brown in color, remove from heat before the caramel becomes overly dark.
  7. Stir the apple puree into the caramel off the heat.
  8. Place the pan back on a medium heat and add the remaining 1 & 1/2 cups sugar, stirring to dissolve.
  9. Bring the apple mixture to a boil, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
  10. The apple jam is done when it becomes thick, jammy and leaves a clear line in the bottom of the pan when a spoon is dragged through the mixture.
  11. Remove the pan from the heat- add the calvados and vanilla bean paste, stir until combined.
  12. Ladle the jam into small mason jars, adding lids and rings.
  13. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
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