Today I am going to use my blog for strictly personal intents, to write a love letter. It’s Valentine’s Day and I’m feeling romantic. When this morning I left home, it was hard to say goodbye, I could not tear myself away, I wanted to stay five minutes longer, for one last kiss, one last caress, one last scratch behind the ears.
Today I’m writing a love letter to Noa, the huge white puppy which in the last year has filled our lives with pure and overwhelming love, our garden with half a meter deep holes and my house with white hairs, like everywhere.
When I brought her home from the kennels, on the evening of February 13, it was cold but the sky was full of stars. I had to bring her home, at the first floor, in my arms, since she trembling with fear, her eyes dazed after a long journey by car. She was six months old, yet she was already 24 kilograms of white hair and softness.
Noa chose her place that night, and since then the green carpet on the left side of the bed is her safe place, where she would refuge if there are too many noisy people, if it is too windy outside or if I have just turned on the vacuum cleaner.
She came home with a daunting task: to be the second dog of the family, after 15 years of strong, deep love with Kira. Kira was a country dog, a shepherd – she had something of a German shepherd and something of a Belgian one, proud and independent, but also funny and untamable in her outbursts of race. We got to know her even better in her last few years, when already old she was always searching a double dose of family warmth.
Noa has managed not to make us forget Kira, not to take her place, but to find her perfect and new place in our heart, to give us exactly, slowly, the same amount of love that Kira gave us, in a different way with diametrically opposed manners. At first I was scared, torn between the fear that this huge white puppy could never be like Kira and the fear that I could somehow forget Kira too quickly if I had buried my nose in her soft neck .
Yet she did a magic. Two, actually, since she has also succeeded, after a year, to become good friend with Wolfi, that a funny unlikely couple!
Noa and me. We are very similar, when she expresses her emotions she is quite overwhelming, and if she is happy to see you she won’t limit herself to barely wag her tail, no, che will jump on you, hug you, lick your hands and face. Then she will follow you waving her tail as the feather of a soldier, waiting for you, coming back, running ahead and looking back, making sure you are not too far behind. Once in a while I catch her lying down, with her head resting on a wooden step, looking at me and grateful and in love.
Maybe she is grateful for this new life we gave her when we brought her home from the kennels, but she does not realize that it is her which has given us a new summer. Despite the holes in the garden, the blanket of fine hairs that stick everywhere, countless pairs of slippers that she ate, shapes of bread and cheese mysteriously disappeared from the table, Noa has won everyone’s heart.
We can’t stop talking with the same enthusiasm of a new mother, every day, the funny faces she makes when she bites her paws, when she licks the oven door, convinced to greet another puppy, her silent and graceful attitude, the incredible positions where she falls asleep, her love for stale bread (she’s Tuscan, after all).
Today is Valentine’s Day, I wanted to somehow celebrate also Noa. I made these cookies, easy biscotti with white chocolate, the exact shade of her white hair white when you look at her in the late afternoon light, and hazelnuts, the colour of her eyes and moist nose, with whom I wake up in the morning when I don’t want to get up and hide my head under the blankets.
These biscotti are not suitable your four-legged friends, but if you’re looking for a quick little edible gift to make in a short time – just an hour from the ‘let’s make these cookies’ to ‘let’s wrap them with a red ribbon’ – these hazelnut and white chocolate cookies are a keeper. Whether you celebrate it or not, keep my biscotti in mind and enjoy them with a mug of hot chocolate or tea, or, as I do, directly soaked in a glass of water. It is a habit that I took when I was a child, which I just can not give up.
Hazelnut and white chocolate biscotti
- 2 eggs, whites and yolks separated
- 200 g of sugar
- 20 g of runny honey
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
- 250 g of flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 150 g of unpeeled hazelnuts
- 100 g of white chocolate, chopped
- Preheat oven to the maximum, fan assisted.
- Whip the egg whites for about 5 minutes until they are firm, then add the sugar and whip until you get a glossy and thick meringue.
- Fold in thoroughly the honey, the vanilla essence and the egg yolks, then fold gently in the flour sifted with the baking powder. Mix in the hazelnuts and the white chocolate.
- Line with parchment paper a large baking pan and with the help of a spoon form two loaves of dough keeping them well separated, about 5 cm wide and 30 cm long.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 180°C, then bake the cookies for about 20 minutes, then remove them from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then cut them slantwise into 2 cm thick slices with a sharp knife, then arrange them cut-side-down in the baking tin and put them back in the oven for about 5 - 10 minutes, until toasted.
- You can store them in a tin for several days.