Hazelnut Biscotti with Orange Fondue

I’ve watched the past two weeks as all the food sites fill up with Super Bowl related snacks and meal suggestions:  lots of wings, and chili, and savory dips galore.  And, as usual, I thought I’d buck the trend and offer a sweet dip.  This would be the perfect crowd -pleasing dessert for a Sunday football party.  Crunchy hazelnut biscotti (the ultimate dipping cookie) and fresh fruit along with a creamy  orange “fondue”.  The fondue is actually a play on fruit curd, flavored with freshly squeezed orange juice and zest, and a touch of orange liqueur.  It’s texture is lightened with the addition of condensed milk and it’s just the right consistency for dipping.  Use a variety of fruit, for both color and texture.  You might even roast the pineapple and bananas to intensify the flavors.  The cookies are also fortified with orange zest and a little hazelnut liqueur.  I know biscotti purists may take me to task for dipping these little gems in anything other than vin santo, but this combo is really good.  You can make both the cookies and orange fondue ahead of time and just set them out, with the fruit, when you’re ready.  A perfect sweet finale to a day of heavy-duty snack foods.  Go Seahawks!

Orange Fondue
(makes about 2 cups)
In a medium, heat-proof bowl combine:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
With a fork, blend the sugar and zest together until the zest is evenly distributed throughout the sugar and the mixture is fragrant.  Whisk into the orange sugar:
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
Place the bowl over a pot of simmering water and continue to whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Then whisk in:
1/2 cup freshly-squeezed orange juice (Tangelos and Cara Cara oranges are particularly good here)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Continue to cook, whisking constantly for about 5 minutes.  Switch to a rubber spatula and stir the mixture in a figure of eight pattern until it thickens to the consistency of sour cream.  Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl often as the cooking progresses.  The curd will be done when it registers a temperature of 165°F.  Transfer the curd to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and add:
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk.
Pulse until the mixture is smooth and well blended.  Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl.  Add to the slightly cooled fondue mixture:
2 teaspoons Cointreau or similar orange-flavored liqueur 
Serve immediately or cool completely over an ice bath and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
(adapted from “The Secrets of Baking” by Sherry Yard)

Hazelnut Biscotti
(makes about four dozen cookies)
Preheat the oven to 350°F.  On a small baking sheet place:
1/2 cup whole, skinned hazelnuts.
Toast the nuts for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly golden brown and fragrant.  Set aside to cool, then chop into 1/4-inch chunks.  In a medium bowl, cream together:
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
When the mixture is light and fluffy add:
2 large eggs
Beat until smooth, then add:
1 1/2 tablespoons Frangelico liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
In a small bowl whisk together:
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Mix the flour mixture into the butter and egg mixture until just combined.  Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.  On a lightly floured work surface, form the dough into logs about an inch in diameter and the length of your baking sheet.  Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and lay the dough logs about 2 inches apart on the sheet.  Lower the oven temperature to 325°F and place the rack in the upper third of the oven.  Bake the dough logs for about 25 minutes, or until they are set and lightly browned.  Cool the logs on a rack for 5 minutes then transfer them to a cutting board and slice them diagonally into 1/2-inch slices.  Lay the biscotti back on the baking sheet and return them to the oven for 5 minutes.  Turn them and bake again for another 5 minutes to dry the cookies.  Cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
(Adapted from “Chez Panisse Desserts” by Lindsey Remolif Shere)


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