I’m a sucker for a good self-help book. I was recently recommended French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano and while I was browsing the English library for travel books last week, I came across it accidentally. Of course, I figured it was destiny and had to check it out. I started reading on Tuesday, could not put it down, and I finished it on Wednesday. That never happens unless I’m on a beach vacation. I found the book to be so logical and inspiring and it made me wonder why us Americans haven’t figured out how to properly eat. Myself included.
The basis of why French women don’t get fat is that they eat in moderation. They usually have one large meal a day, whether lunch or dinner, and the other meal is smaller, usually a healthy soup. Breakfast is always hearty, but not the main meal of the day. They drink wine with every dinner, but they only have one glass (maybe two on special occasions). They eat their meals slowly, without distractions, and enjoy every bite. They eat dessert, but only one piece of chocolate a day, and a more indulgent dessert maybe once or twice a week. They eat whole, real foods, not processed junk food. They don’t go to the gym, they just walk more and always opt for the stairs. And they drink tons of water.
Such simple concepts that make so much sense! She was basically telling me I can eat anything I want, never go to the gym, drink wine, and not gain weight. The only catch is controlling portion sizes. Quite a big catch, but it’s worth a shot.
So I’m trying it. No more elevators or eating in front of the TV for me. And my chocolate consumption is going to have to decrease dramatically. But the best part about this? There will still be wine, and most importantly, there will still be dessert. Including these biscotti.
I was always hesitant to make biscotti because of the multiple step process. But I assure you the multiple steps are simple, just a bit time consuming. The result is worth the wait. First up: roasting hazelnuts and removing their skins.
Next up: processing the chocolate and sugar into a fine meal.
Dip in chocolate, let dry, and enjoy these chocolate hazelnut biscotti!
But enjoy just one, while sitting, and focusing your thoughts on the delicious biscotti at hand. Truly savor every bite, because that’s how a French woman would do it.
- 3/4 cup hazelnuts* (113 grams)
- 4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (113 grams)
- 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (200 grams)
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (220 grams)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (40 grams)
- 1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6-8 ounces semisweet chocolate for dipping (200 grams)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, 180 C. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly browned and the skins are starting to peel off. Take them out of the oven and cover the nuts with a clean dishtowel. Allow the nuts to rest under the towel for five minutes, and then rub the towel with the nuts inside, which should peel off the skins. If it is difficult to do with the towel, grab a handful of nuts in your hands and rub them together to get the skins off. Coarsely chop the skinless hazelnuts and set aside.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F, 150 C. Place the coarsely chopped chocolate and brown sugar in your food processor. Process until you have a fine meal.
- In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla with your electric mixer for about one minute, until combined. Add the chocolate meal and the flour mixture and beat until a stiff dough forms. Add the hazelnuts about halfway through.
- Divide the dough in half. Lightly flour your surface and form each piece of dough into a log shape, roughly 10 inches (25cm) long and 2 inches (5 cm) wide. On a parchment paper lined baking sheet, transfer your logs of dough, leaving about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in between. Bake until they are almost firm to the touch, about 35-40 minutes. Take out and let them cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.
- Cut the dough into ¾ inch thick slices (2 cm), on a diagonal, with a serrated knife. Place the slices cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and remove from the oven. Turn the slices over and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
- Once cool, start melting the remaining chocolate in a small bowl that sits on top of a pan of simmering water (double-boiling). You can also microwave the chocolate, but do it in 30-second increments, stirring in between each. Dip the ends of the biscotti in chocolate and leave them out to dry on a piece of wax paper. If you please, sprinkle some finely chopped hazelnut or other sprinkles onto your melted chocolate for decoration. You can store the biscotti in an airtight container for several weeks.
- Serve with coffee or tea, and dunk them in if you wish!
- *You can use up to 1 cup (150 grams) and you can also replace the hazelnuts with almonds.
- They taste best one or two days after baking, so plan accordingly!