For many a year now I’ve tried to make a lot of my Christmas gifts, and some years I’m more successful than others, mostly due to time contraints. A few years ago, I found that I was stressing myself so much over buying presents—financially and from a shopping perspective—that it was taking over the holiday season as well as my pocket book.
These days I’m trying to focus more on the idea of being of good cheer, sharing my time with family and friends, making new memories and sharing the old, and giving things that are handmade or homemade and from my heart. It takes a lot of time and planning—time that’s super hard to find, but whenever I do make the time, I feel so good about it. And I’ve noticed that the homemade gifts are better received than anything I’ve ever bought.
So, what I’m about to share with you is one of the things I always make around the holidays for gifts, and it’s become perhaps the most eagerly anticipated item I make next to the Cranberry Liqueur. It’s Chocolate, Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti, otherwise known by my family and friends as “Those Biscotti.”
Of all the biscotti recipes I’ve tried, and that’s been quite a few, so far this one is my favorite—although I must say there are some recipes posted out there that have caught my attention recently and that I want to try, namely the gingerbread biscotti at Just A Smidgen, the orange ones at Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide and the limoncello ones at Savoring Every Bite. If you’re as much of a biscotti fan as I am, you might enjoy checking those out, too. This Chocolate, Hazelnut and Ginger biscotti recipe makes a very crisp cookie that stays that way even filled with moist candied ginger, chocolate chips and nuts, plus a luscious milk chocolate drizzle on top.
“Wow, that’s a LOT of chocolate!” you say? Yes it is, and in the past, I haven’t been a big fan of chocolate on chocolate and sometimes not even chocolate in chocolate. And yet, this is a perfectly balanced and decadent bite in my book. Like all twice-baked biscotti, these take some time to make, but the result is sublime. I can promise you they won’t last long in your house, so my recommendation is to bag and gift them right away before you eat them all yourself. Or, as I’m doing this year, make a batch to have and share early AND a batch to give away later….ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee, ha, ha, ha!
Chocolate, Hazelnut and Ginger Biscotti (Bon Appetit, December 1999)
Makes about 48 biscotti.
1 2/3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus one for brushing an egg wash
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (8 oz.)
2/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
6 oz. good quality milk chocolate such as Lindt, coarsely chopped
(The original recipe called for white chocolate, which looks prettier, but I prefer the taste of milk chocolate on these.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat. Sift the first 5 ingredients into medium bowl. Add 3 eggs and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips, nuts and crystallized ginger (dough will be firm). Turn dough out onto floured surface. Gather into ball. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into 12-inch-long log. Transfer logs to the prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart. Flatten each to 2 1/2-inch-wide log. Whisk remaining egg in small bowl to blend. Brush logs with some of beaten egg.
Bake logs until golden and firm to touch, about 35 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Transfer logs to cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut logs crosswise into scant 1/2-inch-wide slices. (This width is important in order to make a crisp cookie) Place slices, cut side down, on large baking sheets. Bake until firm, about 15 minutes. Transfer biscotti to racks and cool completely.
Stir the milk (or white) chocolate in top of double boiler set over barely simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water. Place biscotti on rack set over baking sheet. Using a spoon, drizzle melted chocolate decoratively in zigzag pattern over biscotti. Let stand until chocolate is firm. (Can be prepared ahead. Store biscotti in airtight container at room temperature up to 2 weeks or freeze up to 1 month.)