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Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti

Hazelnut and Dried Cherry Biscotti
Biscotti means "twice baked" in Italian, and double baking is the secret to making these popular, crunchy cookies. To make biscotti, the dough is shaped into an oblong loaf and baked. The baked loaf is then cut into slices that are baked again until they become dry and hard. As durable as they are tasty, these cookies keep extremely well and are a good choice to give as a gift. They are delicious served with fresh fruit, and are perfect for dunking in coffee or a sweet dessert wine such as vin santo.

Ingredients:

  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room
      temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely
     chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried tart cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour 1 large baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. Have another ungreased baking sheet on hand.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter on high speed until fluffy and pale yellow. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty when rubbed between your finger and thumb. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla until blended.

Over a sheet of waxed paper, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed or stir with a wooden spoon just until incorporated. Mix or stir in the hazelnuts, cherries and orange zest until evenly distributed. The batter should be very soft.

Turn the batter out onto a generously floured work surface and divide in half. With well-floured hands, transfer one-half onto the greased baking sheet and shape into a log about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on one side of the sheet. Repeat with the remaining batter, leaving at least 4 inches between the logs. (They will spread as they bake.)

Bake the logs until the edges are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the logs cool for 10 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs, still on the pan, on the diagonal into slices 1/2 inch wide. Carefully turn the slices on their sides and return them to the oven. When you run out of room on one baking sheet, start transferring slices to the other sheet.

Bake until the edges are golden, about 10 minutes more. Let the biscotti cool completely on the pans on wire racks. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 4 dozen biscotti.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Cookies, by Marie Simmons (Simon & Schuster, 2002).