Today is Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving in America and one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Some people have made a tradition of camping out in front of their favorite stores, waiting for the Christmas markdowns that typically go into effect today. There often is a party atmosphere and today’s cookies would be the perfect way to stay awake and be the first one in the door!
Black Friday requires copious amounts of coffee to keep your energy levels high and these Coffee-Hazelnut Biscotti are wonderful dipped in that brew. Caffeine and sugar … a shoppers best friend LOL.
Biscotti, the classic Italian treat, is unique in cookie-dom. You form the dough into a log and bake it, then cut the log into slices and bake them again. This double baking creates an incredibly crunchy cookie that softens to the perfect texture when dipped in liquid. And in Italy that liquid is usually espresso. Today’s version of biscotti contains espresso powder, enhancing the flavor of the hazelnuts, and making them even better dunked in coffee.
Espresso powder is often called for in chocolate baked goods because it actually enhances the flavor of chocolate, making it taste more “chocolatey.” You can find it in grocery stores but they often stock a rather inferior product. I highly recommend the powder that King Arthur Flour sells. It is extraordinary and makes a huge difference in your baking.
Espresso is typically made from a higher quality bean than regular coffee in the United States, but the main difference between the two is the fineness of the grind. Espresso is very finely ground so that it can be compressed into a “puck.” This is inserted into the espresso machine and hot water is forced through the grounds creating an extraction called “espresso.” The resulting drink has a much more concentrated flavor than regular coffee and therefore is served in tiny cups.
If steamed milk is added to espresso, it is a latte. If you pour frothed milk over the espresso it becomes a cappuccino. If the espresso is poured into the frothed milk it is called a latte macchiato. The Artist, Italian to his core, proudly drinks his espresso just like they do in Italy, hot and black with a twist of lemon. Adding sugar or cream would be a sin. But I won’t tell if you do – just don’t let The Artist know!
So rather than sit here and read a huge, long post from me, I know you are itching to get out the door and buy all your holiday gifts with the shopping throngs. Have fun, spend wisely and take time to have a cup of coffee and some biscotti. It will make your day even brighter.
Happy Festive Friday!
- 5 tsp instant espresso powder, divided
- 1 tbsp boiling water
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp pure almond extract
- 1 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
- Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, nonstick aluminum foil or a silicone baking mat.
- Dissolve 3 tsp of the instant espresso powder in the boiling water and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tsp espresso powder, the flour, baking powder, salt, and cornmeal.
- Working with an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar at medium speed until they are very smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs and keep beating until the mixture is smooth again, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
- Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the espresso liquid and the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until they are incorporated into the dough, which will be soft and sticky and might ball up around the beater. Add the hazelnuts and mix just to stir them in.
- Using a rubber spatula, scoop out half the dough and place it on the lined baking sheet just a few inches from one of the sheet’s long sides. Working with your hands, spread out the dough into a log that’s about 12 to 14 inches long. Shape another log on the other side of the baking sheet with the remaining dough.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until the logs are lightly browned but still soft to the touch. Leave the logs on the baking sheet and let them rest for 30 minutes.
- Gently transfer the logs to a cutting board and, using a long serrated knife, trim the ends, then cut the logs into slices about 3/4 inch thick. Put the slices back on the baking sheet, standing them up on their bases (reassembling the log), and slide the sheet into the oven.
- Bake the cookies for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are browned and firm. Put the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let the cookies come to room temperature.
- Yield: about 32 cookies; recipe can be doubled.
- Storage tips: The cookies will keep for a week or so at room temperature—you don’t have to cover them unless you want to; they can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months.