Yep, whole grain. Because there are whole-grain versions of polenta out there. For example, Anson Mills makes one. Click here and scroll down a bit for the "polenta integrale." It's coarse ground. And a gorgeous treat. We buy it in big bags and keeps it in the chest freezer downstairs. It makes these biscotti crunchy--very. And irresistible--very. Have a glass of red wine on hand. Or a cup of tea. Because dunking is necessary.
So let's get to it.
First off, chop up about 2/3 cup (100 grams) skinned and roasted hazelnuts. We admit it: we cheated here and bought the whole, roasted, skinned hazelnuts at the supermarket. And lest you think we shop at some chi-chi market, we bought them at our local Stop-&-Shop.
The best way to chop them is to put them in a plastic bag, seal it tight, and bash them with a rolling pin. If you've got counters that can pit or chip, do this activity on the floor. But don't take out your marital frustrations on the bag. Just give it some good, steady whops. And check the bag's seal every once in a while so bits of hazelnuts don't go flying across the kitchen on your next whack.
Now position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of your oven. Preheat the oven to 325F (165 C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Next, mix all this in a bowl:
- 2 cups (240 grams) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
- 1/4 cup (50 grams) coarse-ground, whole-grain polenta
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt; and the finely grated zest of 1 small lemon.
Stir well so the baking powder is evenly distributed in the mix.
Next, beat 3 large eggs and 2 tablespoons (30 ml) limoncello (or plain ol' brandy) in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until well-combined and pale yellow but not yet fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Turn the beaters off, add the flour and polenta mixture, and beat at a very low speed just until a soft but crumbly, dry dough forms.
Scrape down and remove the beaters. Use your cleaned hands to work the chopped hazelnuts into the dough.
Dust a clean, dry work surface with lots of that coarse-ground, whole-grain polenta. Turn the dough out onto it. Divide the dough in half. Knead one half until smooth, until the nuts are evenly distributed throughout. Then gather this half of the dough again into a ball and roll it under your palms into a log about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Place this on one of the baking sheets.
Repeat with the other half of the dough. Place this log on the second baking sheet.
Bake in the top third and bottom thirds of the oven for 10 minutes--then reverse the baking sheets top to bottom and continue baking for 15 more minutes.
Remove the logs on their sheets from the oven, set them on a wire rack, and cool for 30 minutes. (Maintain the oven's temperature.)
Transfer one log to a cutting board and use a serrated knife to slice it into 1/2-inch-thick (1-cm-thick) cookies. It's best to slice on the diagonal so you get the longest biscotti possible. Place these cut side down on the empty baking sheet. Don't worry too much about air space--just get them on there.
Repeat with the other log and the other baking sheet.
Return the cookies to the oven (in the top and bottom thirds) and bake for 10 minutes. Flip all the biscotti over and reverse the sheets top to bottom. Continue baking for another 10 minutes, until dry, brown, and crunchy.
Transfer the baking sheets to that wire rack and cool the biscotti to room temperature. Be patient--the biscotti need to cool completely so they don't steam and so you don't lose any of that crunch. But once they're at room temperature, they'll keep in a cookie jar or a sealed bag on the counter for at least 1 week--and can be frozen for several months.