My PhD supervisor is a man of many talents. He is one of the most intelligent people I’ve met, and also one of the most interesting. He is a doctor and a scientist. He has a lot of love for life, and dabbles in everything from hardcore science, to music (he plays the violin and piano), to photography, to cooking and baking and he’s good at everything he does. I’ve been to a couple of parties at his place, and this man can really really really cook. My supervisor also brings weekly treats to the lab when we have meetings, and sometimes he whips up some of his super home-baked stuff and we always leave incredibly impressed.
Once he made some biscotti and brought them to the office. It never occurred to me that biscotti can be made. You know how you think some stuff just can’t be made at home (like xiao long bao and macarons for me)? I’m stupid enough to think that the biscotti in pretty boxes and those that are served with coffee at restaurants just appear out of thin air (along the same naive lines as how I think beautiful people don’t shit or need to shave their pits, and if they do take a poo, it doesn’t smell at all).
Poo and pits aside, let’s just say my supervisor inspired me to make biscotti at home. I know these biscuits go really well with coffee, I can’t drink coffee as I get very bad headaches after that (I can however eat coffee-flavoured ice cream, cakes etc), so I thought it would be nice to make some for my husband when he downs coffee by the gallon to help him stay awake during revisions.
As usual, I hopped over to Smitten Kitchen for a biscotti recipe, and found an almond one. As I had hazelnuts at home, I made hazelnut biscotti instead. I also didn’t have Grand Marnier or orange liqueur so I used what I had at home, which was Marsala. I can’t remember how much the recipe yielded as I made these a long time ago, but the results were great. Brittle, fragrant, nutty biscuits. M loved them with coffee. I loved them on their own.
Here’s the recipe:
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen’s Almond Biscotti)
3 and 1/4 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cup sugar
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
1 tablespoon Marsala
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 large egg white
1. Position rack in centre of oven and preheat to 180 degrees Celsius. Line baking tray with baking parchment
2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt.
3. Mix sugar, melted butter, 3 eggs, vanilla paste, Marsala and zest in a separate bowl.
4. Add sifted dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix with wooden spoon till well combined.
5. Mix in the hazelnuts.
6. At this point, the dough would be very sticky. Divide dough in half, and with floured hands, arrange each half portion of dough into 6cm wide logs on the baking tray, ensuring they are spaced well apart as the dough will spread when baked. The length of the log would depend on the length of your tray.
7. Whisk egg white in small bowl until foamy; brush the whisked egg white over top and sides of each dough log.
8. Bake logs until golden brown for about 30 minutes. Place the tray on a cooling rack and cool the logs completely. Keep the oven on.
9. Transfer the logs to a clean work surface, and cut them diagonally into 1/2 inch thick slices. Place slices, cut side down, on baking tray without the baking parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes. Turn the biscotti over, and bake until just beginning to colour for about 6-8 minutes. The exact timing will depend on your oven. Transfer the biscotti to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store these in airtight container at room temperature.