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Hazelnut Biscotti (Tozzetti)

Tozzetti take their name from tozzo, “stale bread,” an allusion to their crunchy, crumbly character. They belong to the Lazio tradition of homemade dry sweets, which also includes various biscotti made with milk and eaten for breakfast, or with wine, such as ciambelline al vino. Tozzetti are distinguished from Tuscany’s almond-laced cantucci by the use of hazelnuts, an important product of northern Lazio. These biscotti are a staple of the city’s pasticcerie, so only dedicated bakers make them at home today. Serve them with a sweet wine in late afternoon or after dinner or with morning coffee.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups hazelnuts (filberts)
  • 3 large eggs 
  • 11⁄2 cups sugar 
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled 
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon salt 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Spread the hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast, shaking the pan every 10 minutes, until the nuts darken and give off a strong aroma, 25–30 minutes. Pour them out onto a plate to cool. (There is no need to remove the skins.) Put one-third of the cooled nuts into a food processor and pulse to chop very finely (do not process to a powder). Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well blended. Stir in the melted butter. Add the finely chopped nuts and mix well. Add the flour and salt and mix well. Finally, add the whole hazelnuts and stir to distribute them evenly. At this point, the dough will be very stiff.

Preheat the oven to 350°F . Line a large rimmed baking sheet or two smaller baking sheets with parchment paper.

Transfer the dough to a floured work surface. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. Form each portion into a rectangle about 3⁄4 inch thick, 2 inches wide, and about 6 inches long, or as long as your longest spatula. Using the spatula, transfer the rectangles to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them about 2 inches apart.

Bake the rectangles, watching to make sure the bottoms do not get too brown, until the top of each is firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and, using the spatula, transfer the rectangles to a cutting board. Let cool slightly, then, using a large knife, cut each rectangle on the diagonal into slices 5⁄8 inch thick. Place the slices, with a cut side down, on the baking sheet (if all the slices won’t fit, bake them in 2 batches). Bake until the cookies color slightly and are quite firm, 20–25 minutes longer.

Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to several weeks. Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Foods of the World Series, Rome, by Maureen B. Fant (Oxmoor House, 2005).