Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti with Dried Cherries

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Happy Valentine’s Day! I feel like this is a holiday that people tend to be rather opinionated about. Usually, I find, it’s a love or hate kinda thing. Either that, or people will attempt to ignore it. I do not fall under any of these categories. I take it as an excuse to eat cute heart-shaped foods, indulge in chocolate, and to tell my friends that I love them. If I was in a relationship, I would probably take the opportunity for a nice, romantic dinner, but I do find the cards/flowers/teddy bears a tad excessive.

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So, I actually went on a bit of a whim with this one. I have a confession. I don’t really love the infamous combination of hazelnut and chocolate. Nutella doesn’t excite me. The hazelnut gelato that my favourite cafe is known for? I could do without it. I’ve tried, but the flavour just doesn’t do anything for me.

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But when I decided to make chocolate biscotti yesterday, I couldn’t convince myself to pair anything else with it. I added sour cherries and extra chocolate, but the hazelnuts just felt necessary. And you know what? I’m glad I went with my instinct. The hazelnuts are not overpowering in this, like I usually find them to be, and especially when dunked in coffee, I really enjoy their flavour.

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Biscotti is one of my favourite treats, mainly because I am a coffee/tea fanatic and they are delicious when dunked. These aren’t overly sweet, and traditional biscotti (like this one) doesn’t contain any butter, making it pretty low fat as well (if you’re into that kinda thing).

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Double Chocolate Hazelnut Biscotti with Dried Cherries:

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes About 30 Cookies (depending on how thick you make them)

1 cup Whole Hazelnuts, preferably blanched

2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour, plus more for work surface

1/2 cup Cocoa Powder

1 tbsp Espresso Powder

1 pinch Salt

1/2 tsp Baking Soda

3/4 tsp Baking Powder

4 Large Eggs

1 1/3 cups White Sugar

1/2 cup Dried Cherries

1 cup Milk or Dark Chocolate Melts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread hazelnuts on baking sheet and toast about 10 minutes, until lightly browned. If hazelnuts are not blanched, toast them until the skins begin to crack, then remove them from oven and wrap them in clean linen or cotton towel. Rub hot nuts to remove most of the skin. Set toasted nuts aside.

2. Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.

3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough. Fold in dried cherries.

4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface (the dough will be quite sticky). With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the hazelnuts on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg.

5. Place in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, until firm to the touch. (This took me until 20 to 25 minutes.) Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. (I found that letting them cool for five minutes made this easier, as well as a sharp knife with a tight serrate.) Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, until they are crisp and dry.

6. Place chocolate melts in a microwave-safe bowl and melt in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds until smooth. Flip biscotti so that they are sitting vertically, then drizzle melted chocolate over the biscotti. Allow to cool completely before serving or storing.

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