All You Need is Love…. AND Nutella!

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I had the best-night-ever.

No, I didn’t get engaged or meet my soulmate, it’s much simpler than that….I left work at 6:45 and it’s mid-february. It an oxy-moron but it happened and I relished in it.

Love has been on my mind a lot lately. Not in the cheesy, I’m SO lonely sort of way. More in the way that I realized that I have so much love in my life and I am so lucky to be loved by so many people and sometimes I just don’t share it enough. It’s the concept of loving everyone and I mean EVERYONE. So much easier said then done.

My inspiration and motivation for this stems from a few Sunday sermons and a recent Bible study lesson on 1 Corinthians 13. It’s a passage often used in weddings but it goes FAR beyond 1 man and 1 woman.

1 Corinthians 13:3-8

“If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.”

Simply summarized: Love is everything and should be a part of everything or else we are nothing. It’s powerful stuff.

Now to the second most important part of Valentine’s day…. chocolate and in this case hazelnut and chocolate – Nutella Biscotti.

This batter…. it is also LOVE. Not the essential kind of love but love nonetheless. Make sure to save a tablespoon (or three) for yourself before you clean the bowl. We all do it so there’s no need to hide it. We’ll be better because of it.

And that batter, turns into this. It is so important when you make something with nuts that you can actually taste and see them. The consistency and the way it soaks up the coffee and softens is absolutely perfect.

Fittingly, World Nutella Day was February 5th. My new favorite holiday. I think we should get the day off so we can just stay home and bake Nutella goodies.

Nutella Biscotti

Adapted from Mignardise

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsps. cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup Nutella
1 cup chopped hazelnuts (lightly toasted, I didn’t do this and it was still delish)
*The original recipe has 1/2 the hazelnuts and 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips but I just thought that might be too much for a morning treat.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
Beat eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add sugar and continue beating on high for 2 minutes. Stir in Nutella. Add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Stir in chips and hazelnuts.
Wet your hands, then divide dough into 2 or 3 portions on the baking sheet. Shape each portion into a rectangle about 1/2″ thick.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn down the heat to 300F.
Using a serrated knife, cut slices about 1/3 to 1/2″ wide from each rectangle. Arrange slices cut side down on baking sheet and return to oven.
Bake for 10-12 minutes, turn biscotti over (onto other cut side) and bake an additional 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your slices. Remove to a wire to cool.

If you want to add that special touch (which you don’t really need but it sounds delicious), melt 1/2 cup chopped semisweet chocolate along with 1/4 cup Nutella in a microwave safe dish. When the cookies have cooled, spread a layer of the melted chocolate on their bottoms, using a small knife or off-set spatula. Sprinkle with toasted hazelnuts and allow to dry completely before storing in an airtight container. I think I kept mine for over a week and a half.

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Almond Biscotti

I’ve got this new thing I do. It’s called- eat a biscotti with my coffee every morning. I make my coffee, sit at a chair in my living room, and dip/eat my biscotti while delving into the Hunger Games series.

Speaking of the Hunger Games, I recommend them to everyone. I was a skeptic at first thinking that sci-fi really isn’t my thing but my friend Sara, who writes this book review blog, insisted. This series is in my top 10 out of all the books I’ve read the last few years…. and the movie of the first book is coming out in March. I can’t wait. 

I digress…. but this ‘eat a biscotti with my coffee every morning’ thing, it’s my 15 minutes of “me time” before heading off to my stressful job.

It makes me feel uber sophisticated and takes my Folger’s cinnamon swirl coffee up a few notches.

Be sophisticated with me and take a little time for you each morning.

My inspiration for wanting to make the perfect almond biscotti comes from the fantastic Mini Almond Biscotti at Trader Joes. If you don’t have the time or energy to make your own, this is one of the few times I say it’s okay to go with store-bought.

I found this great Joy of Baking recipe (see below) and made quite a few modifications and I think I got it down. The double baking sounds intimidating at first but it’s not. It just means it takes a little longer than you’re typical cookie and requires a mid-bake slicing. It’s pretty hard to mess up, it might be a little dense or a little crisp but that’s why you’ve got coffee for soaking!

Almond Biscotti (adapted from Joy of Baking):

1 cup sliced almonds

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 cups (260 grams) all-purposeflour

1 cup granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1 teaspoonpure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Variation: Add 1 tablespoon orange juice and 1/2 tablespoon orange zest. Mix the almonds with chopped hazelnuts or any other nut you’d like.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast almonds for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely. 

Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

In a small bowl lightly beat the eggs and extracts together.  

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until blended (about 30 seconds). Gradually add the egg mixture and beat until a dough forms, adding almonds about halfway through. Spoon out dough into two roughly shaped logs on a prepared baking sheet and then perfect the shape with your hands. About 12-14 inches long and 3-4 inches wide. Bake for 30 -40 minutes, or until firm to the touch (log will spread during baking). Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes.

Transfer log to a cutting board and, using a serrated knife, cut log into slices 1/2 inch  thick on the diagonal.   Arrange evenly on baking sheet.  Bake 10 minutes, turn slices over, and bake another 10 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.