My third appendage is back in working order, and I’m intensely relieved to have my beloved laptop back on top of my lap. I’ve been sans-lifeline for a month now, and, as anyone who’s been within screaming range can attest, it hasn’t been pretty. But let’s put that all behind us and get to the navel gazing, I mean, baking project at hand:
Part I: Weird Science. Or, how kitchen chemistry trounces some seriously determined hazelnut skins.
Ages ago, in early July, the Tuesdays with Dorie baking assignment was to make hazelnut biscotti. Although I didn’t lovelovelove the actual cookies (what is with those Italians and their butterless desserts?), I learned two valuable lessons:
|hazelnut-soda brew. Now where did I put that eye of newt?|
1. Never underestimate the power of baking soda. Yes, it has been prescribed as a remedy for countless health and cleaning dilemmas throughout the centuries, but did you know that baking soda can help to de-skin nuts? For these cookies, we added three tablespoons of baking soda to boiling water, dumped in the hazelnuts for a few minutes, and voila! Once removed to a clean towel, the nuts got naked in seconds. Magic.
Fascinated by this amazing process, I did some research on the Internet. It has now been confirmed: I will never become a food chemist. However, I can say with reasonable confidence that the baking soda magic has something to do with alkaline and acidity neutralizing each other, softening the bonds and thus making the skins easier to remove. Isn’t science cool? Mostly indecipherable, but cool.
|(You gotta pay extra for the fancy belt).|
2. Liqueur can be fun! The biscotti called for a bit of hazelnut liqueur, so I picked up some Frangelico. I’m told this is pretty popular stuff among the Italian folks, but having grown up in a Jewish (read: alcohol-deprived) household, I rarely have had the opportunity to sample flavored liqueurs.
The biscotti only called for a touch of the liqueur, so the rest of the bottle was mine to enjoy as I saw fit. First I threw some Frangelico into whipped cream for dunking the biscotti (double hazelnut whammy).
Then, at the advice of my new friends at the wine store, I poured some Frangelico over ice in a fancy little cocktail glass. And wouldn’t you know it? It’s perfect! Frangelico is my new go-to beverage for a happier happy hour. Somewhere between a sweet after dinner wine and a smooth-sharp Scotch, Frangelico has a subtle, syrupy quality -- like a very nutty port without the Nyquil bouquet. I will have no problem working through that bottle. Particularly if I pair the Frangelico with the biscotti, which might be a little more dental friendly after a dunk or two…
|Tasty, but dry as a bone. Yup, this is what gives biscotti it's bad rep.|