Greetings! Happy Almost Spring! I love this time of year, mainly because the weather is really mild here in the Pacific Northwest; the heat is not here yet, but the days are not too short, either.
I had just a handful of hazelnuts left (I seem to always have just a handful of them left, lol) and wanted to make something that one could dunk in their coffee or tea, but not as fragile as a cookie; something that could last for several days easy and is not too sweet. So I thought of biscotti.
I’ve read somewhere that biscotti can be cut into any shape or size that one desires. Reading that was good enough for me! You can use any shape of cookie cutter you want, it doesn’t have to be pig-shaped, but it does have to be sharp, otherwise it may be difficult to get clean, distinct edges.
You can also have different add-ins and different nuts than what I used. I used ground anise and cinnamon with hazelnuts and vanilla and almond extracts, but feel free to switch it up to whatever flavors and nuts and add-ins that you prefer! You can even dip them halfway in chocolate. The possibilities are endless!
A few tips to making these:
-Use a small sharp knife to help cut the edges if your cookie cutter is not too sharp.
-If you are using the egg yolk/maple syrup glaze, do not use too much of it, because it may take longer to bake and also make the cookie more soft.
-If dough is too sticky right after combining the wet and dry ingredients, place in a refrigerator for 20 minutes. It makes it easier to work with.
-when working directly with the raw dough, lightly grease your hands with cooking oil if the dough is sticking to your hands.
-When shaping pieces of dough into ovals initially before the first bake, tailor the shape to ensure that there is enough dough in certain areas, such as for the ears, tail, and feet of each pig. Just to make sure that when you cut the cookie, there’s cookie to cut!
-If you want to make smaller cookies, you can either use a smaller cookie cutter for more cookies, or use less dough per cookie, but they will be shorter and likely take a little less time to bake, so adjust baking time accordingly.
Overall, I’m very happy with these! Also, because one pigscotti is equivalent to about 2 traditional biscotti, I feel like I’m not pigging out as much as I actually am!
pig biscotti (pigscotti)
4 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground anise seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cup white sugar
1/2 brown sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup hazelnuts, optional
1 egg yolk with 2 teaspoons maple syrup, optional, for brushing
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts on a small baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and chop coarsely. Set aside.
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, ground anise seeds, ground cinnamon, and salt.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter with the sugars, then add the eggs, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth.
Pour this wet mixture into dry flour mixture and stir until a dough starts to form. If using, fold the lightly toasted chopped hazelnuts into the dough.
Divide dough into 6 equal pieces and pat each of them into an oval shape roughly the same size as the pig cutter you are using. Use a scale or else divide dough first into 2, then divide each of the 2 pieces into 3 equal pieces.
Each oval will be roughly an inch in height. My cookie cutter is large, so each dough piece weighed about 7.5 ounces prebaked.
Place in oven (spaced out evenly between two baking sheets) and bake for about 20-22 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool in tray for about 10 minutes, then use the pig cutter to cut out a pig for each of the ovals. Dust the cutter in flour if dough is sticking to the cutter, but be sure to brush away any flour from the cookies afterwards. Press down hard to ensure you get clear, clean edges. Remove cutting scraps from baking sheet and repurpose or bake separately.
If you want, mix together 1 egg yolk with 2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey and use to brush lightly the tops of each pig.
Place back in oven using the same baking sheets and bake for about 20-25 minutes, until optimal golden-brown color is reached. Cookies will harden more as they cool.
Let cool completely. Store in airtight container at room temperature away from moisture for several days.