Baking a Better Holiday: Chocolate-Dipped Biscotti and Hazelnut Shortbread

We recall vividly the wonderful aroma of Christmas cookies baking in the oven while growing up. Cookies are in many people’s ovens this time of year, including our own. And you don’t need butter to make a good cookie. Instead, we’ll be using extra virgin olive oil to prepare our cookies — namely the chocolate-dipped biscotti and hazelnut shortbread featured here.The recipes are part of part of our “Baking a Better Holiday” focus. “Olive oil adds a depth to the flavor,” says vegan pastry chef Fran Costigan, who once relied mainly on canola and other “neutral” oils in her desserts. “I seem to be getting a richer product when I use olive oil rather than the neutral oils.”

Fran also suggests adding our Arbequina oil to the chocolate for her dipped almond and anise biscotti (photo above), saying it helps “ensure a lovely glossy chocolate coating.” (Click here to see the biscotti recipe.)

Biscotti, you may know, means twice cooked. And these popular Italian cookies boast historical roots dating to the Roman times.

Fran makes her biscotti with whole wheat pastry flour, as well as “heart-healthy” almonds and extra virgin olive oil. She says “you really can feel good about enjoying these not too sweet, not too hard cookies any time of the day, including breakfast.” The cookies stay crisp for at least a week in a tin, and can be frozen up to a month.

Fran also notes the chocolate-dipped biscotti “look good and are simple to make.” We couldn’t agree more. Faith Durand, meanwhile, likes to bake with olive oil so much she even made an olive oil cake for her wedding. “I think that the flavor of olive oil can add something really special to baked goods where you might not expect it,” writes Faith, managing editor of the fabulous food site, The Kitchn.

Her shortbread (photo above) “consists of hazelnuts, olive oil, and a touch of lemon — and very little else.” She used Bob’s Red Mill hazelnut meal. The ingredients can be mixed up in a matter of minutes and baked quickly. (Click here to go to the recipe.)

“They taste delicious too,” Faith adds. “Sweet, nutty, savory from the oil, and salty on the finish.”

We can’t wait to put them in our oven and to smell the lovely hazelnut aroma.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch