Hazelnut Biscotti with Cinnamon Glaze
This week on Food Love Friday we have a special guest! Ricki Heller of rickiheller.com is here with us to share her incredible recipe for Hazelnut Biscotti with Cinnamon Glaze. Ricki is a gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free expert from my home town, Toronto. She’s the author of two bestselling cookbooks and a fellow Level 4 Sugar-Freer. Ricki is on a mission to heal her body from a 15-year battle with chronic candida. She has created some gorgeous sugar-free & grain-free recipes to help her and others enjoy sweet treats while living completely sugar-free. Leave a comment below to welcome Ricki to Food Love Friday!
Hazelnut Biscotti with Cinnamon Glaze
In the home where I grew up, my sisters and I were literally surrounded by homemade baked goods every single day. My mother baked several times a week, and our kitchen countertop was always loaded with pans of coffee cake, foot-high chiffon cake, trays of chocolate chip cookies or containers of brownies. My aunt, who lived in the upstairs unit of our duplex, had been a caterer in her younger years, and continued to bake biscuits, apple cake, sugar cookies and other treats as well. It wasn’t unusual for me to turn the corner of our street as I walked home from school and be accosted by the aroma of chocolate and cinnamon wafting from the windows of our house down the street.
As a result, I learned from a young age to love sweets—and to bake them myself. By the time I was in high school, I’d developed a habit of mixing up bowlfuls of homemade frosting any time I wanted a sweet snack. (Well, at least it was homemade, right?). Of course, I had to curb that habit once I moved away from my mother’s well-stocked kitchen and lived in university residence. So then, I bought cans of Betty Crocker frostings and ate those instead.
Needless to say, my younger self’s eating habits were a huge factor contributing to my ultimate diagnosis of candida related complex (also known as CRC, or simply, candida)—that is, an overgrowth of yeast in the body that flourishes wherever there is excess sugar.
Candida is triggered by an imbalance in the gut’s microflora (the mix of “good” bacteria and pathogenic bacteria that don’t cause problems in a healthy person). Once the balance is upset, candida can swoop in and take over. . . leading to an array of symptoms that can sometimes evade detection for months or even years, since it’s not recognized by conventional medicine. Treatment involves a special diet, coupled with targeted supplements and, in some cases, prescription antifungals.
Because I’m prone to candida overgrowth, I’ve been following one variation or other of the anti-candida diet now for over 15 years. When people first begin an anti-candida regime, the diet is extremely restrictive, prohibiting all forms of sugar (even fruit) as well as very starchy or refined foods. Once the yeast is under control, previously taboo foods can be brought back. For some people, this means a return to sugar and white flour; for me, it meant using lower glycemic sweeteners such as stevia, coconut sugar, or coconut nectar.
Over the years, as my condition has improved, I’ve been able to expand my dietary choices considerably, to the point that I don’t feel at all deprived (and was even able to write an entire cookbook of lower glycemic desserts). However, if I do consume too many sweet treats within a short period of time, my symptoms are likely to flare up. At that point, I return to the first stage of the diet for a few weeks to ensure that candida is kept in check.
Now, don’t whine for me. Yes, it’s a challenge to give up all forms of sugar, and sure, I love me some fresh fruit in summer. But the diet is filled with healthful, nourishing foods, and it’s definitely doable. Plus, I’m totally okay eating this way if it means healing my body and ousting the yeast.
But that doesn’t mean I’ve lost my love of sweets—or that I give up on baked goods. When I’m following a stricter diet (compliant with Alison’s Level Four Sugar-Free), I rely on other ingredients to provide richness to my baked goods, and use stevia as my sweetener. I’ve created truffles, fudge, ice cream—even sugar-free raw S’Mores—all yummy enough to serve to friends and family (and I never tell them they’re eating anything “special”—they have no idea!).
These biscotti are a perfect example of a sweet treat that can be enjoyed at any level of sugar-free living. In addition to being sugar-free, they’re also grain-free, which means they’re perfect for anyone on the first (strict) stage of an anti-candida diet, too; they’re also low glycemic. I’ve spruced these up with a little cinnamon glaze (great when you’re entertaining guests), but they are yummy plain as well, dipped into some herbal tea.
I plan to remain at this level of sugar-free indefinitely. . . thankfully, I know I won’t have to give up delicious sweet treats along the way!
Grain-Free Hazelnut Biscotti with optional Cinnamon Glaze
If you haven’t used coconut flour before, you’re in for a treat. It’s a high protein, high fiber flour (that doesn’t taste like coconut) and offers a lovely, delicate texture to the biscotti. Psyllium husks are essential to bind this recipe (it’s used to replace the missing gluten); they can be found in any health food store.
- 1/3 cup (40 g) coconut flour
- A heaping 1/3 cup (45 g) lightly toasted hazelnuts (with skin is fine)
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) potato starch (or use chickpea flour for Level 4 Sugar-free)
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) whole psyllium husks (not powder)
- 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking powder
- 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
- 1/8 tsp (.5 ml) pure stevia powder or 1/4 tsp (1 ml) pure plain or vanilla stevia liquid, or to taste
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla almond, soy, hemp or other alternative milk (except rice milk)
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural almond butter, sunflower seed butter or tahini
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure almond extract
- 1 tsp (5 ml) pure lemon extract
- Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
- In the bowl of a food processor, process the coconut flour, hazelnuts, potato starch, psyllium, baking powder, salt and stevia powder (if using liquid, add it to the liquid ingredients) until the mixture resembles a flour, and no pieces of hazelnut are visible.
- Add the remaining ingredients and process just until blended and uniformly moist (take care not to overmix). The mixture may not form a ball; this is fine. Gently turn the mixture onto the cookie sheet. Wet your palms and then shape the dough into a flat log, roughly 8 inches (20 cm) long and 3 to 3-1/2 inches (7.5-9 cm) wide and 1/2-3/4 inch (1-2 cm) high (make it higher if you prefer thicker biscotti). Using a sharp knife, cut across the log on a diagonal to create about a dozen pieces, about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick.
- Gently move the biscotti apart so there is at least ½ inch (1 cm) between pieces on the parchment. Bake for 20 minutes, until edges just begin to brown. Remove the biscotti from the oven and turn each piece over.
- Reduce heat to 350F (180C) and continue to bake for another 25 minutes. Turn off heat and leave the biscotti in the oven until completely cool, about an hour. They should be lightly browned and very crisp at this point.
- If desired, drizzle the glaze over the cooled biscotti and allow to harden. Makes about one dozen. Will keep, covered at room temperature, up to four days. May be frozen.
- 1 Tbsp (15 ml) virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
- 3 Tbsp (45 ml) coconut butter
- 1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
- 10-15 drops plain or vanilla pure liquid stevia, or to taste
- In a small pot over lowest possible heat, melt the coconut oil and coconut butter together. Add the cinnamon and stevia and whisk to blend well. Allow to cool slightly before drizzling over the biscotti (or transfer to a small bowl and dip the tops of the biscotti directly into the glaze).
Ricki Heller, RHN, PhD, is a holistic nutritionist, whole foods chef, writer and educator who shares sugar-free, gluten-free, allergy-friendly recipes and healthy living articles on her popular blog, RickiHeller.com. She is the author of two bestselling cookbooks and the forthcoming guide and cookbook, Living Candida-Free, and Associate Editor at Simply Gluten-Free magazine. Ricki has also written for Allergic Living Magazine, Living Without (now Gluten-Free and More) magazine, Clean Eating, and others. Through her blog and recipes, Ricki proves that a healthy lifestyle really can be sweet!