Biscotti with Anise and Hazelnuts

by formerchef on December 19, 2010

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Everyone is familiar with the phrase, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade, right? Well, my lemons are still on my tree, not ready to be picked, and unfortunately, my computer’s hard drive is now toast and there’s no great parable for that, no way to make lemonade out of a 20 lb paperweight.

One morning last week a awoke to find an error message on my computer. I ignored it, clicking on whatever button I could to make it go away. That was the last I ever saw of my computer. Shortly thereafter it froze up and never rebooted again. Had I known, I would have said my proper goodbyes.

It took me a while to determine that the hard drive was good and truly dead. Fortunately, I have an external backup drive and the contents are current. What I don’t have is a full size computer with photoshop on it and a big monitor to work on. This makes blogging difficult, especially on blogs like mine which tend to be photo intensive.

Perhaps when it rains, it pours fits better here. I had so many ideas of things I wanted to share for the holidays, and instead I spent hours trying to troubleshoot my computer woes and/or shopping for a new one. Plus, I had holiday baking to ship off to family while trying to photograph, write, and work on my posts on a netbook with a 10″ screen. This is why I have not been posting much.

So, I apologize for my lack of posts and hope to make it up to you in the new year. In the meantime, please take this lesson from me instead; always, always, always regularly back up your computer. If I had not done this I would have lost over 12 years of digital photos (that’s over 41,000 files) plus all my documents, music, personal financial information, everything. I use an Iomega 1 TB External Hard Drive I bought for under $80. I like it because it came with backup software which allowed me to set it up once and then forget about it. The night before my computer crashed and burned it did an automatic backup. Hallelujah. Everything is there. Now I just need to buy a new computer to put it on.

These biscotti are a holiday favorite in my family, but really, they are great year-round. They’re not too sweet and are perfect with a cup of coffee any time. They’re also very adaptable; leave out the nuts or change them to another kind. Dip them in chocolate. You can leave out the anise if you want, but I think they are the flavor which makes them distinctively biscotti in my mind.

I gave some biscotti to my husband in a cute little box, along with a loaf of my persimmon-cranberry bread to take to the ladies who work in his school’s front office. The bread made it to them, the biscotti did not; he kept them for himself in his classroom. Sorry ladies, you know who to speak to about the missing cookies…

Biscotti with Anise and Hazelnuts Recipe

6 large eggs
2 cups white sugar
2 Tbsp toasted anise seeds
2 Tbsp lemon juice
8 oz (2 sticks) butter, melted
7.5 cups all purpose flour
1.5 Tbsp baking powder
 
1.5 cups chopped, toasted hazelnuts (optional)*
 
*The nuts are completely optional and I usually make a batch with nuts and then one without. I used hazelnuts this time, but you could also use pine nuts, almonds, pistachios or any other nut you prefer.
 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
 
Toast the anise seed in a small saute pan over medium heat until the seeds begin to color and become fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Quickly remove them from the heat and the pan to stop them from cooking.
 
Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl if mixing by hand). Beat until the eggs and sugar are thoroughly combined. Mix in the anise seed, lemon juice and melted butter. If adding nuts, include them in now.
Add the flour, one cup at a time with the mixer on low. If doing this by hand, after 5 cups the dough is going to get very thick and harder to mix. You may have to incorporate the last cups with your hands.
 
On a floured surface, divide the dough into 3 parts. You will need at least 2 baking pans, preferably 3. Form each part into a long roll about 2″ high and as long as a typical cookie sheet. Place the roll on a cookie sheet lined with either a Silpat Baking Mat or parchment paper. Then press down with your hand to from a loaf about 4″ across and 1″ high.

Bake the loaves for 20-25 minutes until they are firm and a skewer comes out clean from the center. Remove them from the oven (but leave it on) and let the loaves cool for about 10 minutes.

Slice each loaf on the diagonal in 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices and lay out the biscotti on an unpapered pan. Don’t worry if the cookies are slightly sticky in the center, they will finish cooking when they go back in the oven. But if they are more sticky then not in the center, you might want to put the whole loaf back in for a few more minutes.

Place the pan on the bottom rack of the oven and toast the cookies for about 15 minutes or until they are light brown on the bottom. Turn the cookies over and toast for another 5 minutes or until the other side is light brown. Repeat with the other trays of cookies. You can save a little time by putting the other trays in the oven to start them drying out, but they really toast best on the bottom rack.

At this point they are done and ready to be dunked in your morning coffee. One final option is to melt some chocolate and either drizzle it on or dip half the biscotti in it. Place them on a pan with parchment paper and refrigerate until the chocolate is firm.

 

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Charles G Thompson December 19, 2010 at 6:55 pm

So sorry to hear about your computer woes. There’s nothing worse than computer problems! Glad you’ll be able to get everything back (I, too, back up nightly to an external drive). The biscotti look like perfect biscotti. Happy holidays.

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2 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen December 20, 2010 at 9:11 am

Sorry to hear about the demise of your computer! I think these biscotti would do a good job in cheering you!

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3 Myra December 22, 2010 at 8:20 am

I’m making biscotti this morning, but since I’m not a fan of anise, I’m trying a gingerbread version. Looking forward to many more of your delicious ideas in 2011 on your new computer!

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4 formerchef December 22, 2010 at 8:26 am

Gingerbread sounds interesting! You can certainly try these cookies without anise if you don’t like it, but it will taste different.

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5 Myra December 22, 2010 at 9:31 am

Since I don’t have you on speed dial — I keep coming back to this post to help fill in the gaps in my recipe, which wasn’t written clearly, and is slightly confusing. Your pictures on how to form the “log” have been a huge visual help.

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6 Eunice December 23, 2010 at 2:33 am

hey! That’s an outstanding biscotti i’ve came across with ! With anise … I never try this before, it’ll be my to-bake-list ! Thanks for sharing ^^

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7 Tiffany December 25, 2010 at 10:28 am

So the Biscotti Fairy is a myth?
I… I can actually make them myself? Your recipes are so clear; everything looks easy.

Sorry about your harddrive. :(

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8 formerchef December 25, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Yes, the Biscotti Fairy is a myth, sorry.

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9 Peggy December 28, 2010 at 2:08 pm

Bummer about the computer! Hope Santa brings you a new one!

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10 Robostir January 4, 2011 at 8:45 am

This biscotti with anise and hazelnuts recipe looks great! Thanks for the post.

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