Monday, October 15, 2007
Mondays with Maida - Hazelnut Rusks
Page 260 in the old book / page 277 in the new book
I guess Maida's cookie book was written before biscotti were all the rage. Maida describes this recipe as an old German recipe and there's nary a mention of those other twice-baked cookies we've come to know and love as biscotti. To head off any complaints that the cookies were too hard or lawsuits related to chipped teeth, I warned everyone that they were indeed like biscotti and advised they might want to dunk the cookies in their favorite hot beverage to soften them up. Some dunked, others braved dental disaster and ate them dry, but everyone (including me) enjoyed these tasty cookies.
I had toasted the nuts very lightly beforehand because I was worried that they were bland. I had purchased them blanched rather then attempting to remove the skins myself (a task that I find particularly onerous). I'm not sure what process is used commercially to remove hazelnut skins, but my guess is that it is not toasting followed by rubbing the nuts in a dishtowel - the nuts I'd purchased appeared to have been mechanically abraded and sure didn't taste toasted. Anyway, five minutes in the oven perked them right up and perfumed my kitchen as well. Is there any nut with a more heavenly scent than the hazelnut?
The cookies were very easy to make. The one step I worried about just a little was neatly slicing the baked cookie strips. I remember the first time I ever made biscotti I had a terrible time cutting through the nuts. That was thankfully not the case this time around, thanks to my bread-knife. The only trouble I did have was getting those half-inch slices to stand upright for the second baking - they were acting more like dominoes then cookies!
Here's the panel...
Suzanne: "The Hazelnut Rusks were delicious. They reminded me of the mandel bread cookies that my aunt used to make. They were definitely hard and yes, I did need to dunk them to soften them up, but the dunking was part of the fun. This was a great morning breakfast cookie. Rating - 4.0"
Denny: "Excellent. Just a tad too crunchy. I considered suspending my No Chocolate penalty because they were so good, but I've got to be consistent. I'd give them a 4.0 with the -1 no chocolate penalty. I could even taste the hazelnuts. Rating - 4.0"
Laura: "Very tasty, once dunked! (Without dunking, they are indeed very hard.) Rating - 3.5"
Terri: "These are definitely like biscotti and were delicious dipped in my coffee! Since they're twice baked, they're crunchier than usual, but very tasty. The hazelnuts are delicious. Very good, but maybe not for anyone worried about losing fillings or chipping a tooth! Only kidding - they're not that hard! Rating - 3.5"
Overall rating by the panel - 3.8
Next week - Black-and-White Rusks