Schull’s Biscotti Takes Center Stage

Hawaii’s own Amanda Schull returns home this holiday season for a small but mesmerizing role in Ballet Hawaii’s Nutcracker. She says when she had the chance to come home for the holidays to perform with Ballet Hawaii, she couldn’t resist! “I love going home, and to be able to get on stage with some of my friends is icing on a delectable cake!” says Amanda. “My mother and father still live in the house I grew up in, and my mom decorates the house and tree beautifully. It is a real treat to enjoy the holidays with my family in such a festive way in the Islands.”

The Punahou alumna began her career as a dancer with the San Francisco Ballet in 1999, where she was discovered by the director of the film Center Stage, which launched a successful acting career. Dance lovers saw her on the big screen in 2010’s Mao’s Last Dancer, and she is currently on USA Network’s hit series Suits in the role of Katrina Bennett.

Joining Amanda onstage for this lavish, traditional production are New York City Ballet’s Megan Fairchild, Joaquin De Luz, Andrew Veyette, Amar Ramasar and Sterling Hyltin, as well as Carolina Ballet’s Lilyan Vigo Ellis and Timour Bourtasenkov. Steven Heathcote, star of the Australian Ballet and one of Amanda’s co-stars in Mao’s Last Dancer, also joins the production. Plus, Rick Hoffman – one of Amanda’s co-stars from Suits – will make a star turn. Judging by the miles these stars will travel, it’s obvious that no one can resist Christmas in Hawaii.

Catch Ballet Hawaii’s Nutcracker Dec. 20, 21 and 22 at Blaisdell Concert Hall. For more information and tickets, visit

And Amanda can bake, too. Here she shares one of her favorite holiday treats with MidWeek readers.

Almond meal or flour is made with finely ground sweet almonds that are usually blanched without the skin. It is used in pastry and confectionary and has the consistency of ground cornmeal. It is higher in fat, but contains no saturated fat or cholesterol.


* 1 cup whole wheat flour
* 1 3/4 cups almond meal
* 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
* 1 teaspoon salt (omit or use less if on low-sodium diet)
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 3 large eggs (may use egg substitute)
* 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from about 3-4 lemons)
* 3/4 cup coarsely chopped whole almonds
* optional: 18 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt. In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until pale yellow (about three minutes). Mix in lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended (dough should be sticky). Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for five minutes. With moist hands, divide the dough evenly into two equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheets. Form into two (9-by-3-inch) logs. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool five minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs (the short way) into 3/4-inch-thick slices (they should be 3/4-by-3 inches). Arrange the biscotti cut side-down on the same baking sheets with the parchment. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Note: I sometimes turn them over for even baking midway through the 25 minutes. Let cool completely.

For chocolate glaze:

Place chocolate chips in a medium-size glass bowl. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the pan does not touch the water. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Dip the end of each biscotti in the chocolate. Transfer the dipped biscotti to a wire rack, set over a baking sheet, or lay flat on clean parchment paper. Allow chocolate to harden.

Store in airtight container.